~ Minnesota Zoo ~
On friday, Marty, Collette and I, picked up my little sister Kayla and her friend Patienece. We’ve had an amazing weekend (which I’ll tell you all about) and we did a lot of great stuff. Kayla received four free tickets to the Minnesota Zoo and for her birthday (she’s 19 now) she wanted to go. Her four tickets got Marty and myself, and Kayla and her friend into the zoo (Collette is young enough to get in for free). We invited Marty’s friend Stephi to go with us, and we eventually met up with her friend Lauren and Lauren’s little sister (who look like identical twins).
(Kayla and Patienece took the photo)
Upon arriving at the zoo on Saturday morning, it was early enough that we were able to quickly find a spot in the Gibbon parking lot and make our way to a short ticket line at the entrance. Once we were in we made our way to the penguins, and then down the Tropics Trail. We saw a large variety of birds, as well as gibbons, red pandas, lizards, and several others. It was indoors, and was a large, curvy trail that made its way up and down, and all around, giving us many different views of some of the enclosures. Including an above and below view of a tropical aquarium filled with beautiful fish, and some lovely coral and plant life.
At the end of the Tropical Trail was the entrance to the Minnesota Trail. We entered there to find the beaver exhibit was empty, but they had a camera on the inside of their dam and we were able to watch that for a bit. After growing bored we moved down the trail to see a river otter, coyotes, and an owl before getting to the grey wolf exhibit. We searched for the wolves for a long while with no luck, and moved further down the path. There we saw the puma, wolverine, lynx, a bald eagle, and the black bears. The black bears were probably the best part of our entire zoo trip. Three black bears ran across their exhibit, climbed up the trees, and played in the water, all while fighting each other. Crowds grew around the glass to watch them. Unfortunately, because the glass was so dirty from people touching it, it was difficult to get any really great photos, but I got a lot of good ones.
While we watched the bears, we were also waiting for Lauren and her sister to meet up with us. When they did, they said they saw a grey wolf right up against the glass a few exhibits back. Marty and I ran as fast as we could to get back so that we could get some good photos of him, only to find that he was walking along the back of the exhibit and was covered by grass or trees the entire time. But I did get one photo that turned out alright!
Along the way, there were small tunnels, and viewing things for kids. We found Marty in nearly every one of them…
Next we headed to Discovery Bay, the zoo’s large aquariums. My sister and her friend spent a lot of time petting the sharks and rays that they had, while the rest of us spent a lot of time looking at the smaller stuff. They had sea dragons and horses, as well as jellyfish (which I love). Unfortunately, it was difficult to get any really great photos due to lighting, but with time I was able to get some.
We exited the large building for the aquarium and headed to Russia’s Grizzly Coast! There we found the sea otters, grizzly bears (which were sleeping right next to the glass, with a LOT of people crowded around them so no pics), wild boars, and a leopard. Kayla and Collette were pretty much inseparable for a large part of zoo. We also stopped at the Tiger Base Camp, but didn’t find any of their tigers. Moving down the trail there were takin, bison, and prairie dogs before we reached the Africa! exhibits.
They had a large grassland area, with a few trees and a small lake for the giraffes, bongo, ostrich, wildebeest and some white gazelles. We didn’t spend a lot of time there before moving on to the Asian Wild Horses. I spent a lot of time photographing both of the new foals as they ate and slept. At less than a month old, they were incredibly addicting to watch as they interacted with the adults and each other. This was probably my favorite because of my attachment to horses.
As it was getting close to the time we needed to leave, we rushed somewhat through the rest of the large circle. Stopping briefly at the dhole, moose, and caribou exhibits, getting a few photos of each before moving on. They had a second tiger exhibit where we finally got to see two tigers, though they had already given up on the rest of the day and were lounging in the sun.
On our way towards the exit, we were distracted by the dinosaur photo stations, and decided to snap a few photos. Collette was all but excited to ride a T-Rex, but once Lauren gave her a bracelet to play with, she was happy to the ride the Triceratops!
~ ☼ ~
From a photographer’s view:
I had a few issues, but they in no way hindered my experience at the zoo, just made it a little harder to get pictures.
Our zoo experience was great, but unfortunately, the glass being dirty on most exhibits made it difficult to get any really great photos. Anyone without a zoom lens would find it difficult to get a good photo of a lot of the birds (bald eagle included) with the type of mesh they have to keep them in, which is an observation and a tip to others who go, not bashing the zoo! How else would they keep the birds in safely? I’m just glad it wasn’t glass! The only other issue I had was the lighting for the aquariums; large, bright lights on the ceiling were pointed inconveniently in places that made a lot of glare throughout the tanks. If you’re patient, and follow the fish, you should be able to get a few photos without a lot of glare. Where there weren’t bright lights causing glare, there were no lights at all, which wasn’t a big deal, just frustrating.
Overall, we all enjoyed ourselves, and I got quite a few good photos. But, sometimes you need to put the camera down and just watch with everyone else.
~ ☼ ~
Thanks for reading!
Group photo taken by my sister Kayla.
Moose photo taken by Marty.
Triceratops photo taken by Stephi.
All other photos are mine.