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Those Lazy Days of Summer in Siouxland, mostly Summer, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

18 Jun
A sleepy lion fights to keep its eyes open for a noon time nap at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I visited the Henry Doorly Zoo south of Siouxland this past spring. Although temperature wise it could have been considered summer by normal standards. The big cats were lazing about in the sun after having eaten earlier that morning. Looking at them a nap sounded good. The zoo sprawls over a fair distance and I must admit, some days I am feeling rather tired. But it’s fascinating watching the animals and then watching the people watching the animals.

An Asian tiger walks across its compound at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Enjoying a look at the Asian tiger during a public school spring break at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In April it was already shorts and tee shirt weather. The animals staying in the shade except when tempted out, ignoring the humans straining to get a look as they admire the big cats and other animals. I want to visit the zoo again this summer, but already weather forecasters are predicting heat indexes of 100 or better, and the Siouxland area has had numerous 90 degree weather days already, without much rain. Like the big cats, I don’t feel overly energetic on these days, and driving an hour to see them in 90 degree or higher temps isn’t as inviting as it might once have been.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Nine Lives in Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

25 May
A young cheetah looks for a squirrel who scampered up a tree in its enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I visit a zoo just outside of Siouxland and focus more on observing behavior of the animals and folk around them, the more human nature and animal nature seem to show through. On a recent visit when the animals were a bit more active on a cool, yet sunny day, a number of people were gathered about a cheetah exhibit. As I was walking up I saw two younger animals quickly encircle a tree. While not quite fast enough to raise my camera even though I was still a bit too far away to capture a decent image, a squirrel scampered up the backside of a tree escaping for another day and expending one of its nine lives and out of the reach of a couple of “curious cats” that tried climbing the tree but were foiled because of a metal barrier around the trunk. Guessing in place for this explicit purpose as all cats like to climb trees.

A young cheetah sniffs for the now scared witless squirrel that escaped up a tree in the enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A cheetah pauses before laying down for a mid-morning nap at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ever vigilante, it took a while before the younger cats decided they expended enough energy on this fleeting morsel and hopefully the squirrel realizes that this particular enclosure is not a good place to store nuts for the winter or any time of year. And probably thankful for another nearby tree with limbs reaching into the exhibit compound and giving it a chance to enjoy another day of life.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A young cheetah relaxes after chasing a squirrel up a tree within its enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Siouxland Day at the Zoo, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

17 May
A young giraffe eating a morning snack at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when I want to get out and about in Siouxland and yet not certain where I should go, I go long. Taking a drive down to Omaha and then visiting the zoo. The Henry Doorly Zoo has quite an extensive array of animals in its keeping and is laid out fairly nicely, both for the visitors and the animals themselves. I find it fascinating, yet sad, to see these creatures in captivity. Although I know many are born other places as well as locally, and returning them to “the wild” is not feasible. It is an opportunity to watch them though, and folk who come to visit and see them.

Taking a pause in a morning snack at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Parents and children abound during a public school spring break at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Because of the drive I never arrive too early, as that would require seeing the sunrise on the drive down. And I would miss my second cup of coffee. Going midweek I find the crowds are a bit less, unless of course one happens to go during a public school break. But one does what one can. Not all creatures at the zoo are confined. Some drop by to snack while others preen a bit. It’s a fun place to stroll, relax and observe.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Even local sparrows look for snacks at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A couple take a selfie in front of a large elephant statue at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday, April 5, 2021 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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

16 Mar
A child doesn’t see that a curious penguin has come to visit through the glass portal at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s always fun to watch people interact with the animals at the Henry Doorly Zoo. During this past year with the pandemic I read an article where zoo people said they could see the animals there were missing “time” spent with people who come to visit. I thought that an interesting observation.

A child waves at a penguin at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As spring arrives and temperatures get warmer more people will be getting out, enjoying sunshine and a chance to be outside without freezing temperatures. But it will also be interesting to see if people still heed some caution as the pandemic continues, even with vaccinations ongoing everyday. I would guess the animals would hate to see a pause in folk wanting to visit them because of carelessness and not remaining safe until everyone is safe from the coronavirus.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A child watches a penguin swim inside its enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying the Blue Waters in Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

2 Feb
Watching the fish in the shark tank at the Henry Doorly Zoo aquarium in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when I get to some destinations around Siouxland, I like to stop and just enjoy the ambiance and the moment. Like a few photographers I know, I sometimes tend to overshoot. But knowing this, I also try to embrace the idea of just enjoying what I see without a viewfinder, mostly.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Enjoying the shark tank at the Henry Doorly Zoo aquarium in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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

23 Jan
Feeding time at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Everybody loves meal time. Some of us snack a little too much sometimes in between. It was fun during a day trip out of Siouxland to see zoo staff at the Henry Doorly Zoo feeding their flock of penguins. The little guys and gals eagerly greeted the staffers.

Feeding time at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One poor little guy was hoping for a little special attention but the staffer through the food over his head toward the water leaving him standing there.

One lone penguin was hoping for a little special attention during feeding time at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Feeding time at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 12, 2012. (video by Jerry L. Mennenga©)

Most got a little attention as the attendants made sure each were fed a fish, or two. And the creatures scurried here and there knowing it was chow time and no excuses, even though a few were reticent about eating their fish, one or two gulps and the birds then took a dip.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Feeding time at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A little personal attention during feeding time at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Feeding time at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Time for a swim after a meal at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A swim after a meal at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A Tufted Puffin at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A Tufted Puffin looks out at visitors at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Wednesday, January 13, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing Humanity in All in Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

28 Nov
A silver back gorilla makes his way in its enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some anthropologists and behavioral scientists talk about we humans are close in nature to the primate, maybe even descending from the creatures millions of years ago. Of course folk will debate that scenario until the end of time. But it is fascinating that there are quite similar traits between humans and other creatures. Even if we don’t admit it. And finding that observation in Siouxland just reinforces my notion that all living creatures and interconnected at some point. For good or bad.

On a recent visit to the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE I saw what I believes to be an all too common trait of humans, Children especially, but I have seen a few humans behave this way as well. And it reminded me of the cereal commercial, and the siblings exclaiming, “Mikey likes it!” And with Thanksgiving recently occurring I am sure there were a few sceptical humans wondering if they wanted to try something new at the dinner table.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A silver back gorilla checks out a possible snack left in its enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A silver back gorilla eyes a possible snack in its enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
When in doubt, a silver back gorilla checks out a possible snack in its enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Humans honestly come by their scepticism to food if a “distant” cousin also seems suspicious at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A sliver back gorilla decides this snack may not be so bad afterall at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Finding Refuge in Siouxland, Scatter Joy Acres, Omaha, NE

17 Oct
Scatter Joy Acres in Omaha, NE, Friday evening, September 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This fall I came across a small petting zoo located in a quiet neighborhood outside Siouxland in Omaha, NE. Scatter Joy Acres is a place where people can go and on a much smaller scale than the other local zoo in Omaha see animals and sometimes interact with them.

There are a variety of animals and it seems a very family friendly venue as families roamed the grounds waiting for an event to start just checking out the various animals on the grounds.

Scatter Joy Acres in Omaha, NE, Friday evening, September 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Scatter Joy Acres in Omaha, NE, Friday evening, September 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Scatter Joy Acres in Omaha, NE, Friday evening, September 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Exploring and finding new places to check out is always fun and the joy of traveling even if that means driving an hour away. Hidden gems to a visitor not familiar with the area. Sometimes these are overlooked because one is a visitor, but then that just means more exploring closer to home and a chance to spend more time on the ground looking than driving or flying.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Scatter Joy Acres in Omaha, NE, Friday evening, September 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Scatter Joy Acres in Omaha, NE, Friday evening, September 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Scatter Joy Acres in Omaha, NE, Friday evening, September 18, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Checking on Visitors at the Zoo near Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

13 Sep

A peacock walks by visitors at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday August 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Humans are not the only curious “animals” on this planet. Zoo animals exhibit a curiosity as well when visitors drop by, and some even like to show off a bit and relax while checking on visitors to their domain. Maybe even smile at someone they see.

A meerkat takes a break from preening at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday August 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A giraffe smiles at a visitor at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday August 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But like people animals can be a bit aloof and not pay any mind to those who are checking them on on a warm day. People watching in reverse or just not interested. Although under different circumstances, maybe.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A curious peacock takes a closer look at a visitor at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday August 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

After a meal, a nap is always inviting at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday August 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A meerkat and smaller antelope watch visitors watching them at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday August 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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

14 Aug

 

One could almost hear hear this gorilla asking if closing time is near while visitors try to get its attention at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday August 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It would probably be an understatement that during this pandemic that people miss seeing their friends, even here in Siouxland. I read a recent feature story in a Nebraska newspaper where a zoo official said that while the zoo itself has been impacted with layoffs and less revenue coming in because of it like other businesses was shut down a number of months, this zoo official also thought some of the animals had missed seeing their human friends.

Two young boys get a closer look at one of the gorillas in the gorilla valley exhibit at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday August 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An orangutan rests in its exhibit at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday August 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Most people have had a pet in their life at one time or another, either as a child or later in adulthood. Or if not, certainly a friend. And while folk gov overboard at times for their pets, they each fill a space in one’s life that most people can appreciate. I would guess the same is true of animals at the zoo. Seeing hundreds, probably thousands of people pass by their exhibits. Some times when I have visited the zoo previously the gorillas seem distant or even a little annoyed at their human cousins by turning their backs to them and even hiding out of view of the windows there for people to see through. People staring, making gestures and of course trying to capture that perfect selfie.

Children check out a gorilla in the gorilla valley exhibit at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday August 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Maybe showing off a bit as this gorilla relaxes in the gorilla valley exhibit at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday August 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A gorilla checks out visitors during a family day in the gorilla valley exhibit at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday August 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This time I found most all of the gorillas interacting, as much as that is possible, with the humans passing through the exhibit. Some even showing off a bit as they lolled about in their enclosure, sometimes feigning awareness but warily watching. Although some, mothers in particular, kept trying to find someplace away from prying eyes as it fed its young, moving the little guy to different locations but not avoiding those damn tourists. And there were a number of young gorillas in and about the enclosure which also drew people’s attention as they watched them behave like any child.

A mother gives her child an close encounter with a gorilla in the gorilla valley exhibit at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday August 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

No privacy blankets for this mother trying to feed her young in the gorilla valley exhibit at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday August 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Although I did spy what I thought was an unusual addition to the exhibit as personnel did a little house cleaning. Also ignoring those prying visitors’ eyes as she went about her work.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A different species does a little house cleaning in the gorilla valley exhibit at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday August 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

An entry point into the gorilla valley at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Monday August 3, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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