Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Travelogue Logged Down!

Whew.  A post on Friday.  Nothing Saturday.  Two Sunday.  Nothing yesterday.  Maybe I can finish up today.  The culprit has been the bug that invades your chest and explodes your head.   I never felt it coming and it's taking it's own good time in leaving.  However, on toward home.

Our last stop of any significance was at Zoo Montana in Billings.  We love the little zoo and make it a point to visit when we're in the vicinity.  We were upset to learn they are having financial woes and are having to scramble to keep their accreditation.

Not being locals, we don't know the ins and outs and politics of the situation; I'm sure there are many.  With a zoo it's probably a lack of administrative capability or board capability or both.  It sure can't be the fault of the residents!

Since it is the only zoo in the entire state,  I'd think the locals would see it as a source of pride as well as tourist revenue. It was opening time the Monday after Easter and the place was filling up fast with families.  There was nothing but great enthusiasm.  The youngsters were far more lively than the animals.  Many were just beginning their day and oh, sooo sleepy like the little red panda!

A lot of the displays, like the barn and the petting zoo had not opened yet.  The volunteers were busy at work sprucing up a garden.  This group were ladies of a certain age enjoying the fresh air and sunshine.  The exercise and the chance to chat with anyone willing to engage them.  Zoos aren't just for the young.  Of course, I'm proof positive of that!

They have an eclectic selection of animals, many native to the region like wolves and mountain sheep and grizzly cubs.  Others on loan from other zoos or funded by corporations like the Siberian tiger sponsored by Exxon.

As much as I don't like to see animals fenced, today's zoos, even small ones like this, are a far cry from what they used to be.  Kids learn about these animals in school, to have the opportunity to see them alive and up close can't help but inspire some awe.

A pair of nesting bald eagles.  Mom hunkered down on her eggs.  You look her in the eye and go no further. You just silently wish her and her soon to be young ones well.

A pair of wolves basking in the morning sun.  Photographing through fencing brings home the fact these beautiful creatures are no longer free, but at least they are alive and will never be hunted by man.  I get the urge to open a gate, but...I don't.

Sometimes luck plays out and you find a nook or crannie where there is no fencing and for a brief time you can imagine the otter are entwined on a real river bank.  But of course they are not though I seem to care a lot more than they do!
The most famous current residents are probably the grizzly bear cubs.  They were given to Zoo Montana for care after their mother had been euthanized.  She had attacked some campers and actually ate one of them.  This is a definite breach of bear etiquette!   All the bears were mal-nourished when found.   An autopsy showed the mother was ill and unable to produce milk for her cubs.  I don't know.  Sad animal stories make me sad, but such are the ways of nature as Hub will remind me when I see a hawk grab one of my quail! I'd have never made it as a pioneer!

The story, thus far has a happy ending.  The cubs are as you'd expect.  Full of life and energy and a barrel of fun to watch.  The video is of Ozzie playing in his pool then taking off at full lope for his den, water flying everywhere.  There came to mind a certain Saint Bernard that used to look very much the same after a bath!

Here's to Zoo Montana.  A wonderful end to what had been a great vacation.  I hope they get their problems solved.

Now it's back to the real world.  Oh, my.  Must I?

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