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Visiting the Great Plains Zoo in Siouxland, Sioux Falls, SD

23 Feb

A Siamang gibbon reacts while visitors look on at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Looking forward to visiting area zoos near the Siouxland area again this coming year as the warmer weather permits the animals to be outside, probably making a better experience for both them and visitors. While not a large zoo, this one in Sioux Falls, SD has a variety of animals on display, both exotic and domestic and is a nice way to spend a morning or afternoon.

An entrance to one section of the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019.

The zoo is set up to allow visitors to pace themselves as they wander cemented trails from exhibit to exhibit. Although sometimes I find it an interesting juxtaposition of seeing some exotic animals with very identifiable deciduous plants that would not be found in the various species original habitat. But the shade provided by the trees is a welcome relief some days and colorful in the fall.

And just a more pleasant experience for the visitor as one learns about the animals residing there.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A water fountain near the entrance with playful monkeys at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019.

Robins, a Hopeful Spring Sign in Siouxland, Omaha, NE

9 Feb

Robins looking for food and staying warm on a cool day at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

I am always happy to see robins flitting about and gathering this time of year around Siouxland. It makes me feel that spring is much closer than it seems. Weather folk predicting more snow and maybe a mixture in the coming days. And while I have not seen any of these gems in the Siouxland region proper, as Omaha is generally 10-15 degrees warmer, I just think they are taking a brief respite before continuing their journey north.

Robins looking for food and staying warm on a cool day at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Robins looking for food and staying warm on a cool day at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

These little guys didn’t want me coming anywhere near them as they scavenged among the leaves looking for morsels. They looked plump, but am guess they just had on their “down” jacket as the temperatures still hover below and just barely above freezing. But soon as the prognosticating rodent made his call about the spring and the weather recently, this year feels like it can’t come soon enough.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Robins looking for food and staying warm on a cool day at historic Fort Omaha, now the Metropolitan Community College, in Omaha, NE Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (photo by jerry L Mennenga©)

Dreaming of Catnaps in Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

1 Feb

A lion rests in the shade on a particularly hot day at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Mother Nature is teasing Siouxland residents in the next week or with promising temperatures in the high 30’s, which would be nice if some of the ice from previous recent rainfall, snow, then more rain and freezing temps have accounted for 2-3 inches thick coatings on sidewalks around the area. Walking becomes a sport as one tries to balance and smoothly glide to a destination. And I can’t say that I have fared so well.

Some days I think a daylong catnap is in order. Much like some of the bigger cats I saw at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE this fall. Hot days are meant for snoozing and the animals have limited means to escape the heat until the sun goes down.

A lion rests in the shade on a particularly hot day at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A lion rests in the shade on a particularly hot day at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

On extremely cold days during the winter I feel like that myself in reverse. Not venturing outside if I can be so lucky and patiently waiting for March and maybe temperatures in the 50’s. One can always dream a bit. A slow day to cherish and time spent pondering.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A snow leopard using a rock for a pillow as it naps on a hot fall day at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A hot fall day deserves a long nap by this cheetah at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Feeding Time in Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

16 Jan

One possibly sleepy California sea lion misses out on treats on the other side of the enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There is an old adage about snoozing and losing, and I think it applies equally well to animals. Visiting the Henry Doorly Zoo this past summer south of Siouxland in Omaha, NE, I happened into the zoo at the right time and found it was feeding time for some of the creatures. Zoo personnel were training and feeding their sea lion charges as well as entertaining those watching.

Visitors watch zoo personnel feed California sea lions at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A California sea lion moves in to slightly nuzzle a ball held by zoo personnel at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The seals approached and did some aquatic tricks before receiving their treat. Some tricks in water and others out of water. It was interesting in watching as the zoo people worked with the animals. It was also interesting to see the folk who were watching took a while before walking closer to watch along the railing allowing spectators fairly close proximity to see what what going on.

After performing a minor response to a zoo personnel a California sea lion is rewarded at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But like ball players having a bad day on the diamond, as quick and agile as the sea lions are, they didn’t always manage on the first toss to capture their treat. But once in the water, they certainly acquired it on the second try.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A near miss by a California sea lion of a snack at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Making Friends at the Zoo in SIouxland, Great Plains Zoo Sioux Falls, SD

5 Dec

A couple of Zodiak bears stand at the entrance of their den at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I have mentioned previously how fascinating I find it to watch the animals at zoos. Their interactions with one another and visitors enrich the experience for the visitor. One hopes it does that as well for the animal. We creatures of all stripes are curious beings, although we all have days when we like to keep folk at arms length.

Big horn horn sheep find different niches to use as a resting spot on their rock pile at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A big horn sheep lays quietly during a warm fall day at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And sometimes they can be coaxed out of their shyness with a bit reward, like food nuggets. Who doesn’t like an afternoon snack and a head scratch.

A visitor makes a goat’s day by feeding it a snack at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A goat accepts a head scratch from a visitor at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And hopefully it leaves them and ourselves asking for a little more attention and time, plus snacks. Snacks are always good and there is no foul in asking for more.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A goat calls to a visitor that just fed it a snack, making asking for more, at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, SD Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Making Friends in Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

23 Nov

A giraffe takes a treat from a child at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When visiting the animals at the zoo, it is amazing to me to see these creatures interact with visitors. The more tame creatures that is that would not pose a threat under the proper conditions. Outside of Siouxland the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE does provide a chance to people to interact and get a close up encounter. I often wonder if some of the children that do interact later in life become veterinarians or wildlife advocates.

Visitors attract giraffes with treats from a high viewing platform at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A giraffe seems nonplussed about its photo being taken at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The encounter certainly makes a visit more memorable and most likely will entice visitors to return. Although sometimes the “wild” creatures may not only be walking around in the penned up areas. What looked like some of kind exercise building field trip for a group made me curious, but not enough to interrupt their process. Certainly memorable, I would think for the participants and the impersonating giraffe.

 

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

During an outing at the Henry Doorly Zoo one of the participants dresses in a giraffe costume in Omaha, NE Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A giraffe takes a treat from a visitor at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying the Zoo near Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE

20 Oct

A Flatland gorilla stares back at visitors while sitting perfectly still at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A Flatland gorilla sits in a shady area on a hot fall day while visitors watch at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Primates are interesting creatures. Much like their “human” counterparts. They are expressive and inquisitive and sometimes just annoyed. I noticed on a visit to the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE how the Flatland Gorillas would ignore the inquisitive humans looking at them in their enclosure only occasionally looking at them. Many times they sat just beside the paned windows just out of sight. Looking possibly for their own bit of solitude away from prying eyes.

But that’s hard to do in a zoo environment I would think. Even inside people tried to get up close and engage these creatures. And a new member of the gorilla family made it even more apparent that we are fascinated with wildlife.

A parent Flatland gorilla and its youngster lay quietly on a hot fall day while visitors watch at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A staff member of the Henry Doorly Zoo talks with the baby Flatland gorilla as it moves about in its enclosure in Omaha, NE Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A baby Flatland gorilla works at getting its balance at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In a way you can’t blame these creatures for wanting to avoid prying eyes. And I find it interesting to watch the entire scene while people watching. The lengths we go to see something in our lifetime we will never see in a natural setting. To enjoy the majesty of these animals the lives they represent but do not live themselves. I am not certain what in human nature makes us wonder about such things. But I know I will continue watching, pondering questions I can’t possibly answer but still intrigued the thoughts.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Flatland gorillas sit in a shady area on a hot fall day while visitors watch at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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