Saturday, July 25, 2009

It's a jungle in there

I've been there before, but all summer I've tried to make plans for a trip to revisit the Memphis Zoo. Today, I made it. (The shot on the left is what you see when you first enter.) I had three photographic goals:

1. Get a shot of one or both pandas -- check.
2. Get a shot of the tigers -- check.
3. Get a shot of the polar bears -- oops. What do they say? Two out of three ain't bad.

The pandas are the crown jewel, so to speak, of the zoo. There are only three other zoos in the U.S. that have a panda exhibit.

Technically, the zoo doesn't own them, rather they are leasing them. In other words, there is a fee the zoo pays each year. The exhibit area cost $16 million to build. The small photo to the left shows the entrance.

You probably know that pandas are becoming extinct. The reason is that they have a limited diet -- mostly bamboo shoots. They eat more than 40 pounds a day. Areas that can support them are being encroached on by humans, squeezing them ecologically.

The panda you see is named Ya Ya. (There is another called Le Le.) I wrote panda, but the actual name is giant panda.

Sometimes they eat outdoors and that was what I was hoping for. I arrived about 20 minutes early and set up a tripod (whoa, fancy, no?), but then found out they would be eating indoors. That meant shooting through glass with reflections and hand prints. Because they are eating bamboo shoots, I thought of a title: The shooter shoots the shoots. Sorry, it's my blog, so you have to put up with stuff like that. Just sayin'.

The image above is of the Chinese Tower.

This (above) was taken inside the China area.

The first time I went to what they call Cat Country, the tigers were taking a nap. It was 90 degrees today. Also, I'm guessing they may have just had lunch. For these two reasons, they were engaging in siesta time. Above is one of them.

I went back after I visited the pandas (and did other things), and got this shot. It took a while. Most of the time, he was pacing around, but away from me. Then he came towards me and I snapped what you see. I think he posed just to get rid of me as if to say, "You got your stupid photo. Are you happy now?"

If you look at the tee shirt, you might figure out who this zoo-goer person is.

You can read more about the Memphis Zoo if you go to Wikipedia here.


  1. Is that YOU in the photo? LOL!!
    Thanks for stopping by my blog today!

  2. Those pandas are adorable. Great pics! Love the t-shirt, also.

  3. What a great series. Pandas are in my favorite animal list! I really like the first shot because the people give you an idea of the scale...the entry is huge.

    You zoo reminds me a lot of the Miami zoo.

    Did that guy wearing that funny T-shirt finally go away and leave you alone? ;-)

  4. I can't believe that you got a shot of the pandas eating! I have never even seen them move. They are always sleeping when I go there. But, I did get some really fun shots of the tigers one day when they were all playing with pumpkins. They seemed to be such cute and cuddly creatures then. LOL! - Your photos are awesomely crisp and colorful. I am really enjoying them!

  5. Lovely day at the Zoo. And some great photos.But I don't see why you would need a tripod.
    Very nice work.

  6. @joni: yep, that's Mojo. Joni's artwork is amazing and then some. I love the way she works with vibrant colors.

    @jusdealem & dbcooper: yeah, the pandas are awesome

    @jacob: thanks, high compliment coming from you. Any readers intersted in photos should check your web site out:

    @nikki: thanks for stopping by. Nikkie has a daily photo blog (Leeds AL), too:

    @Wolynski: Thx for your comments.

    This lady has two blogs and my favorite is:

  7. @Wolynski -- Forgot to respond to this: The outside feeding area has a "fence" that is actually plexiglas. I didn't want to shoot through that, so was planning to extend the tripod so I could be taking shots above the glass.

  8. I had no idea that Memphis had pandas! It's my daughter's favorite animal and she wants to visit a zoo that has them someday.