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At the zoo my photos, my words

A zoo visit, the subject of my featured gallery for April, provides opportunities to photograph unusual animals, but getting quality photos is challenging. It's often more difficult for me to get quality photos at a zoo than it is in the wild.

It seems like it should be the other way around. After all, I know exactly where the animals are at a zoo. There are maps and signs. Can't miss 'em. Just walk up to the pen and start shooting.

Except there are often high fences to shoot through. Or glass walls, usually covered with scratches behind a coating of sticky fingerprints. And crowds of people. And the animals tend to seek shelter far from the viewing areas.

A flamingo in its rest stance at Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio.

The best chance for success is to carry a long lens, spend time walking around the exhibits to find positions that provide clear line-of-sight to the animals and hope for some luck.

I enjoy visiting zoos. During the last few years my wife and I have visited zoos in Columbus and Toledo, Ohio, Philadelphia, San Diego and Washington, D.C.

But a zoo visit also brings mixed feelings.

Sun bear in tree, Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio.

Most modern zoos are designed to motivate normal (i.e., non captive) behavior by the animals, part of an effort by zoos to provide enriched habitats for animals. There are structures to climb, ropes for swinging, open spaces for running or roaming.

That’s much better than the small cages that housed zoo animals in past decades.

Two brown bears spar at the Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio.

But there are still walls and moats that restrict just how far the animals can roam. The have space, but not freedom.

Modern zoos foster wildlife and science education by providing the public with opportunities to learn about various animals and the care they require. They are also important in protecting and preserving endangered species and rehabilitating injured animals. And the move toward enriched habitats have greatly improved life for the animals. But the animals are still captive and often suffer from stress, boredom, and confinement caused by a life behind bars.

Cheetah in cage, Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio.

Thus the mixed feelings.

Tiger in water on a hot day in the Philadelphia Zoo.
A flamingo in its rest stance at Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio.
Sun bear in tree, Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio.
Two brown bears spar at the Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio.
A sea nettle floats in the water in the Toledo Zoo, Toledo, Ohio.
An orangutan looks like he's had a long day at the Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio.
Cheetah in cage, Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio.
A koala sleeping, Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio.
A snow leopard rests in the Toledo Zoo, Toledo, Ohio.
Orangutan in pensive pose, Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio.
A Ring-tailed lemur makes eye contact in the Toledo Zoo, Toledo, Ohio.
A brown bear walks through tall grass at the Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio.
A pair of Budgerigars lock beaks in the Toledo Zoo, Toledo, Ohio.
Male mandrill, Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio.
Polar bear up close, Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio.
An Andean bear holds a fish between its paws in the San Diego Zoo.
A male lion rests in the National Zoo, Washington, D.C.
A Toco Toucan perches with an open beak in the San Diego Zoo.
A Gelada baboon rests its head on its hand in the San Diego Zoo.
A koala looks around during a rare moment awake in the Toledo Zoo, Toledo, Ohio.
A sun bear prepares to climb over a log at the Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio.
Cheetahs on watch, Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio.
Western Lowland Gorilla, National Zoo, Washington, D.C.
A fish swims in the aquarium at the Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio.
A panda rests its chin on its paw in the San Diego Zoo.
Mexican wolf taking a walk, Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio.
Gibbon resting on branch, Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio.
Giant fruit bat hanging, Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio.
Crimson-rumped toucanet in the Philadelphia Zoo.
Bonobo eating leaves, Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio.
A lion cub born in August 2015 yawns while resting in the sun at the Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio.
Komodo dragon at the Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio.
Lowland gorilla and greens, Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio.
Galapagos tortoise in the Philadelphia Zoo.
Black-naped Fruit Dove under cover, Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio.
Sea lions looking up, National Zoo, Washington, D.C.
A double-wattled Cassowary in the National Zoo, Washington, D.C.
Pygmy marmoset staying alert in the Philadelphia Zoo.
Blue-breasted kingfisher in the Philadelphia Zoo.
Koala sleeping in tree, Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio.
A pair of turtles share a log in the San Diego Zoo.
A klipspringer calls quietly from a rock in the San Diego Zoo.
Ostriches at the Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio.
A markhor rests at the Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio.
Giraffe walking in Heart of Africa area of the Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio.
Blue-crowned motmot, National Zoo, Washington, D.C.
A small-clawed otter watches its surroundings in the National Zoo, Washington, D.C.
A rhinoceros walks in the Columbus Zoo, Powell, Ohio.
Click on a photo to see a larger version.
Created By
Pat Hemlepp
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All photos and text © Copyright - Pat D. Hemlepp. All rights reserved.

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