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Showing posts with label Animals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Animals. Show all posts

Monday, 20 May 2019

Capybara (The World's Biggest Rodent)

A Capybara Sits On The Grass.

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Address:  2000 Meadowvale Road
Date: May 2019
Website: www.torontozoo.com

  Some people may be surprised to learn that the world's biggest rodent is not a rat found in the New York subway system.  The title belongs to South America's capybara which weighs up to 65 kg, stands almost 2 feet tall and can grow up to 4 feet long.  We have come across capybara at several zoos, but had a real close encounter at the Toronto Zoo.


  Diego the capybara lives at the Toronto Zoo.  The zoo just recently started some Wild Encounter programs.  We were able to learn more about him as well as feed him a treat of some fresh lettuce.  Capybara are herbivores and eat only plants.  In fact the name capybara translates roughly to "master of the grasses".  All rodents have teeth that constantly grow and must gnaw on things to wear the teeth down.  As we fed the lettuce we had to make sure not to get near those teeth.

Capybara's Webbed Feet.

  Capybara are semi-aquatic and spend most of their time in the water.  They have webbed feet which helps make them great swimmers.  Their nostrils and eyes are high on their face so they can breathe and see above the water, but if they have to, a capybara can stay under water for up to 5 minutes.

The Behind Of A Capybara.

  Capybara have a high rounded back.  Diego looks kind of like a coconut with legs in the photo above.

Capybara And A Waterfall.

  The other capybara at the Toronto Zoo can be found near the waterfall in the Americas section.  Diego prefers to keep by himself and lives in the Kid's Zoo not that far from his relative the guinea pig.

Capybara eating in the water.

  The keepers said that Diego was about 6 years old.   We think that the photo above may have been taken while Diego, his brother and parents enjoyed a family dinner together.

High Park Capybara Family.

  In Toronto there are also capybara at the High Park Zoo.  Two of the High Park capybara are famous for escaping.  One of them wasn't found for almost a month before being returned to the zoo.  In the photos and video above you can see the runaways with their babies.  Baby capybara are called pups.

A Capybara During Feeding Time.

  Feeding the capybara was fun and Diego was friends with whoever had a piece of lettuce.  Once all the lettuce was gone he went off to the other side of his enclosure to be by himself again.  It was great to see and learn about this amazing rodent up close.   Next time we are in New York City though, we would still like the rats to keep to themselves.


Click here to take a virtual tour and see our collection of Toronto Zoo animal photos.

Map of Our World
Toronto Zoo (Kids Zoo) , High Park Zoo

Post # 251

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Courtship Display of the American Woodcock

Sun Setting At The Leslie Spit Toronto

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Address: 1 Lesle Street
Date: April 2019
Website:  www.torontobirding.ca

   Spring is in the air.  As the sun is setting, the courtship dance of the American woodcock is about to begin.  We joined an enthusiastic group of birders on Toronto's Leslie Spit to see this strange little bird in action.

A Taxidermied American Woodcock

   The American woodcock is a weird looking creature that has a round body, short legs, and a long bill.  Woodcocks also have their eyes up high on the sides of their head.  This lets them see 360 degrees.  They use their long bills to pull worms from the soil.  They can actually open and close just the tip of their beak to grab a worm underground as if using a small set of tweezers.  In Ontario, breeding woodcocks arrive in mid-April and courtships can last until the end of May.

Power Plant On Unwin Avenue Toronto

  Our group had come to the Spit just before sunset specifically to view the courtship display.  After some discussion from our group leader explaining what we would be seeing, we drove to a bend in Unwin Avenue and pulled over to the edge of the road.  Woodcocks like to breed in pastures, small forest openings or along a roadside.  A male will mate with as many females as it can and has no involvement in the nesting or caring for the chicks.  It is however, up to the females to decide if they are impressed with a male woodcock's performance and agree to mate.

Let the dance begin!

  It wasn't long after we parked that the woodcocks began to perform.  There were about three males competing in the area surrounding us.  Tonight they would have to attract a female by making their presence known over the occasional traffic noise and a group of about 15 noisy humans.  You can hear the sounds the woodcocks make if you listen carefully to the video below.


   First the woodcock makes what is called a "Peent" sound.  It will do this several times as it turns in place.  Next it will suddenly fly up into the air and do several large circular passes.  Its primary wing feathers create a twittering sound as the wings flap through the air.  After making the larger circles it heads back down to the ground much like a stunt plane at an air show.  It returns in small tight spirals to land almost exactly where it started from.  If no female approaches then it starts the whole process over again.  A male woodcock will do this courtship display every night during the breeding season.

CN Tower As Viewed From Leslie Spit

    As darkness took over, the performances continued.  We decided that standing on a poorly lit street staring up at the sky while traffic came around a sharp bend in the road behind us was not where we wanted to be.  We wished the woodcocks the best of luck and headed home.  Once again, the beauty and complexity of nature had amazed us.

Map of Our World
Tommy Thompson Park (Baselands)

Post # 249

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Ripley's Aquarium Of Canada

Ripley's Aquarium Of Canada

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Address:  288 Bremner Blvd
Date: March 2019
Website: www.ripleyaquariums.com

Click here to take a virtual tour and see our collection of Ripley's Aquarium animal photos.

   Ripley's Aquarium of Canada is a relatively new attraction in downtown Toronto.  It opened in 2013 and we visited one time before becoming members last year.  Our membership is about to end so we thought that now would be a good time to dive in and take a closer look at what we have seen.  From sharks to goldfish, we did our best to see them all, but some species have still managed to elude us.

Ripley's Aquarium (Alewives)
Ripley's Aquarium (Ray Bay)
Ripley's Aquarium (Blue Ring Angelfish)
Ripley's Aquarium (Anemone Wall)
Ripley's Aquarium (Pacific Sea Nettles)
Ripley's Aquarium (Sand Tiger Shark)
Ripley's Aquarium (Goldfish)
Ripley's Aquarium (Life Support Systems)

The aquarium is divided into several sections.  You can see fish from Canada's oceans and lakes.  There is a colourful tank filled with different urchins and anemones. The Rainbow Reef is filled with hundreds of fascinating tropical fish.

A Green Sea Turtle in Ripley's Aquarium Dangerous Lagoon.

A conveyor belt takes you into the shark filled Dangerous Lagoon.  As sharks swim around and above you, you may even spot one of the green sea turtles that call this tank home.

A baby seahorse at Ripley's Aquarium.

The Gallery has poisonous fish, seahorses, cuttlefish and more.

A Shrunken Head At Ripley's Curious Creatures.

Curious Creatures has unusual things like a peacock mantis shrimp, flashlight fish and even an actual shrunken head from Robert Ripley's travels.  This is more like the Ripley of Ripley's Believe It Or Not.

Ray Bay is filled with stingrays which look like they are smiling as they swim up the tank walls.  Planet Jellies has jellyfish in a tank with ever changing back lighting.

A Scarlet Cleaner Shrimp Gives A Manicure At Ripley's Aquarium.

If a hands on experience is what you want you can touch the rays that swim to the top of Ray Bay.  There are also touch tanks with horseshoe crabs and bamboo sharks.  You may also like a shrimp manicure from a scarlet cleaner shrimp.

Life Support Systems at Ripley's Aquarium Canada

The Life Support Systems area is where you get a glimpse behind the scenes as over 5.2 million litres of water are filtered and pumped throughout the aquarium.  Fortunately, 95% of the water gets recycled. 

Example Of Ripley's Aquarium Rainbow Reef SignageStripey (Sign)Example Of Ripley's Aquarium Signage

One complaint we have with the aquarium is their use of video signs.  These signs slowly change from animal to animal.  So in a tank like the Rainbow Reef with hundreds of fish and many different species it can take a long time to match a name to a fish or a fish to a name.  Don't worry, we posted as many of the screens as we could on our special photo page.

We will write some more aquarium specific blogs in the future, but for now you can browse the best photos from our visits. 

Click here to take a virtual tour and see our collection of Ripley's Aquarium animal photos.


Map of Our World
Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

Post # 245

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Penguin Beach

The Penguin Beach SIgn At London Zoo

Location: London, England
Address:  Regent's Park
Date: September 2015
Website:  www.zsl.org

  The penguins at the London Zoo were faced with a problem in 2004.  They could no longer stay in their old penguin pool and as a result needed a new home.  They were housed in many places including the sister zoo, Whipsnade Zoo.  Finally in 2011 Penguin Beach opened.

Humboldt Penguins at London Zoo's Penguin Beach.

    The penguins now reside in the biggest penguin pool in England.  The pool holds 450,000 litres of water.

A Humboldt Penguin at London Zoo.

  The exhibit is filled with a colony of Humboldt penguins.  Humboldt penguins are found in South America along the coasts of Chile and Peru.  One distinguishing feature to tell them apart from other penguin species is the pinky area between their beak and their eye.

Humboldt Penguin Colony At London Zoo.

  There is a large group of penguins living at Penguin Beach.  

Penguin Outside Nest Penguin Beach London Zoo

  At one end of the enclosure were many nests where breeding pairs of penguins can do their part to further increase the population.  Humboldt penguins usually lay up to three eggs twice a year.

Ricky The Rockhopper Penguin.

  One lonely bachelor was Ricky the rockhopper penguin.  He can be recognized by the long yellow feathers on his head.  Ricky was the only non-Humboldt penguin in the pool and seemed to really like attention.  He was there when we visited in 2015 but he has since moved to Whipsnade Zoo to join a group of other rockhoppers.  We will see if his personality can still stand out surrounded by similar penguins.

Feeding Time At Penguin Beach.

  Feeding time at Penguin Beach draws quite a crowd.  The penguins line up to be fed fish from a bucket or fight for the fish thrown into the pool.

A Grey Heron Stands At Penguin Beach In London Zoo

  As well as other penguins competing for food, the penguins have to look out for local intruders.  Seagulls swoop down at the pool to try and get some fish scraps.  A grey heron stood motionless waiting for its chance to do the same.  We saw grey herons stealing food from a group of Asian small-clawed otters later in the day.

Humboldt Penguin At Penguin Beach.

  Penguins are always entertaining.  We could watch them walk around and swim all day.  Penguin Beach is a great place to do just that.

Map of Our World
London Zoo (Penguin Beach)

Post # 244

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Lubetkin Penguin Pool

Old Lubetkin Penguin Pool At ZSL London Zoo

Location: London, England
Address:  Regent's Park
Date: September 2015
Website:  www.zsl.org

  In 1934, London Zoo opened its famous spiral-ramped Penguin Pool.  The pool was designed by Berthold Lubetkin who worked for an architectural firm called Tecton.  It is one of the first uses of reinforced concrete and is a grade I listed structure in England.  A grade I listing is reserved for buildings of exceptional interest.

  The movie About a Boy was released in 2002.  In the movie there is a small scene where Will (Hugh Grant) and Marcus (Nicholas Hoult) visit the zoo.  As they have their discussion they walk past the Penguin Pool.  There are still penguins in the enclosure as they did not leave until 2004.

Grade I Listed Lubetkin Penguin Pool At ZSL London Zoo

   We saw a few reasons for the penguins moving out of the pool.  One said that they were contracting bumblefoot due to walking on concrete.  Bumblefoot is a bacterial infection on the feet of birds.  Some people say there was originally rubber over the concrete and it should be put back.  We also read they were moved to a duck pond during some repairs and seemed to really enjoy their new location.  Another lesser believed theory was based on the popularity of the About A Boy movie and the inclusion of the pool in the film.  It was said that the pool attracted too many Hugh Grant fans and the penguins requested to move to a new location where people came just to see them.  Who knows?  At any rate you can now visit the London Zoo and see the old exhibit which sits empty.  You can also see the colony of penguins who are happily living in a new area of the zoo called Penguin Beach.


Map of Our World
ZSL London Zoo (Lubetkin Penguin Pool)

Post # 243

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Year of The Pig

Chinese Zodiac Pig Sign
  1. Hawaiian Pigs
  2. Babirusa
  3. CNE Pigs
  4. Miss Piggy
  5. Miss Piggy
  6. Red River Hog
  7. Tamworth Pigs
  8. Pig Pot at the ROM
  9. Pigman at the Campbell House
  10. Warthogs
  People born in the Year of the Pig are said to be thoughtful, polite, reliable, courageous and ready to help others.  They can also be naive, and self-indulgent.  2019 is the Year of the Pig according to the Chinese zodiac.  To celebrate here are 10 of our favourite swine encounters. Oink Oink.

1 ) Hawaiian Pigs
Mini Pigs At Dan's Green House in Maui

Dan's Green House is located in the town of Lahaina, on the island of Maui, in Hawaii.  They have exotic plants and rare birds as well as mini pigs.  We got a chance to spend some time with these two little guys.  Aren't they just the cutest?

2)  Babirusa
Babirusa with a keeper at the Toronto Zoo.

Speaking of cute, we are sorry but babirusa are just the opposite.  They have long legs, weird curvy tusks and look like all of their hair just fell out.  They are only found on a few islands in Indonesia and are unforgettable.  We saw this pair at the Toronto Zoo.

3)  CNE Pigs
Pig feeding her litter at Canadian National Exhibition.

When the Canadian National Exhibition comes to Toronto at the end of each summer so does "The Farm".  You can experience the sights and smells of livestock.  There are always lots of pigs and usually one big sow who spends her day constantly feeding her litter of piglets.

4)  Miss Piggy
Miss Piggy in Wedding Gown at Museum of The Moving Image.

In Queens, New York the Museum of the Moving Image has a Jim Henson Exhibition.  Miss Piggy is one of our favourite Muppets and favourite pigs.  Here she is in her wedding gown ready for her big day.

5)  Miss Piggy
Miss Piggy Plane crash site in Churchill Manitoba.

This Miss Piggy is a crashed freight plane.  It can be found in Churchill, Manitoba still sitting where it crashed in 1979.  Miss Piggy the Muppet made her debut in 1974.  We have read that the plane is named after Miss Piggy because it was overloaded or it once carried a cargo of pigs.

Front of Miss Piggy Plane in Churchill Manitoba.

 We think it should be called Miss Piggy because of its flat snout.

Miss Piggy plane engine in Churchill Manitoba.

  By the way Miss Piggy, your engine is way over here.  Also watch out for polar bears hiding amongst the rocks and wreckage.

6)  Red River Hog
Red River Hog At The Toronto Zoo.

The red river hog is a colourful African pig.  We like its whiskers and red coat.  It turns out that we have a fondness for animals with red coloured fur.

7)  Tamworth Pigs
Tamworth Pigs At Riverdale Farm.

Based on our previously professed love of red furred anuimals you can see why we like Tamworth pigs.  They are one of the oldest breeds of pigs.  You can also see the curly little tail in the photo above that makes pigs even more appealing.  These pigs are from Toronto's Riverdale Farm.


8)  Pig Pot at the ROM
Pig Shaped Pot At The Royal Ontario Museum

This pig shaped vessel was at the Royal Ontario Museum.  We imagine it could be filled with some sort of liquid which could then be poured out of the spout in the snout.  We didn't make note of what was listed as its intended purpose and often the museum uncovers artifacts whose purpose is only assumed.

9 ) Pigman at the Campbell House
Campbell House Museum.

We took this photo of the Campbell House Museum in Toronto.  The Campbell House was built in 1822 and was actually moved to where it sits today.  Looking at our photo later we noticed something odd.

Man Dressed Like A Pig At The Campbell House in Toronto

There was a well dressed pig man on the grounds.  We hope he was there for an event or promotion at the museum. 

10 ) Warthogs
Warthogs At A Waterhole In Greater Kruger Park.

We took a trip to Africa and encountered many wild warthogs.  We watched them come and go at a waterhole in Greater Kruger in South Africa.  We also watched them mow the lawn in Zimbabwe beside the mighty Zambezi River.

A Warthog Kneels On The Grass At A'Zambezi Lodge.

Because warthogs have such short necks they usually have to kneel down on their front legs to eat grass.  In the video below, various African animals eat beside a waterhole until the warthogs come and take over.


New Year Celebrations At Scarborough Town Centre.

  That is our list of favourite pigs.  We took part in some celebrations at the Scarborough Town Centre for the Chinese New Year.  You can celebrate and enjoy pigs all year long.


Map of Our World
Post # 241