Tag Archives: exotic animals

Visiting the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari ParkVisiting near Siouxland, Ashland, NE

4 Jan
An elk at the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari Park Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 near Ashland, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In the coming new year, this year, I hope to get out to more parks and preserves and view some majestic animals, whether cared for in facilities or in nature itself. Sometimes plans don’t always go as one might like, but it’s a nice goal to have. Seeing these animals up close is special in a way as many can not make or afford the trip to the mountains or other locales for a 2-3 week hunt for such creatures, whether here in the U.S. or other international locales.

An older looking bald eagle at the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari Park Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 near Ashland, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An older bald eagle at the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari Park Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 near Ashland, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing animals up close sometimes hopefully gives one a better appreciation of how precious they are, better seen alive and in person than on some trophy wall adorning some narcissistic individual’s need to gloat or feel superior in some superficial way. I sometimes wonder if fortunes were reversed and these individuals were put onto the same “playing fields” as the creatures with only their hands, arms and legs would they fare any better from the creatures around them. A terrible thought, but maybe a lesson.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A bald eagle at the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari Park Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 near Ashland, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A bald eagle at the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari Park Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 near Ashland, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Location, Location, Location near Siouxland, Lee Simmons Wildlife Park, Ashland, NE

15 Nov

A turtle suns itself on a rock at the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari Park Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 near Ashland, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when looking for a nice spot to sun oneself, it all comes down to where one happens to be. While visiting the Lee Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari outside of Siouxland proper, I noticed different turtles within the park all having varying degrees of luck of where they were catching some sunshine during my visit. When I was younger and would visit a beach, it was a fun day, but I am not a big fan of having sand all over me. I just find it unpleasant. But am guessing sometimes a tortoise doesn’t have an option and goes with the flow, enjoying a moment or several out of the water as best it can.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A turtle suns itself on a log at the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari Park Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 near Ashland, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A turtle suns itself in a pond filled with scum at the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari Park Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 near Ashland, NE. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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

27 Aug

An Asian tiger yawns from the soon to become heat of the day at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This summer in Siouxland like many places has been extremely hot and dry. When I visited the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE earlier in the summer on such a day the animals reminded me that sometimes it’s okay to take a break during the heat of the day, if possible, and not over do it. Although for humans that is not always possible, as temperatures seem to become more extreme both in summer and winter maybe the human race needs to re-evaluate it’s life and needs to accommodate a climate that is not always hospitable. But that will never happen as the wheels of commerce and industry and those who wield the power will never acquiesce to such a mind set as they work from their mostly air-conditioned and more temperature controlled board rooms and offices.

But watching the animals at the zoo, they understand nature and seem to know when taking a break is a reasonable option too puruse.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Resting but always wary, a tiger lays on a cool cement floor at the start of a soon to be hot day at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Nap time for a young cheetah at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A young cheetah looks up at the sound of a noise at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A young spider monkey picks off something from another at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Two spider monkeys look out what their enclosure at the humans watching them at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Two spider monkeys look about from their enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sharing, Kind of, in Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

3 Aug

Two giraffes apparently can share their eats when one isn’t aware of the other seen at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I have taken more interest in photographing animals, backyard birds, zoos, wildlife in nature around Siouxland and such, I began looking more at their behavior and interactions. Probably applying human attributes, fairly or not, as I watch them interact with one another.

The giraffe in the foreground didn’t seem to notice as opposed to not minding, the other giraffe sharing some of its food at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE the day I visited. Sometimes a gentle touch is a better approach. Just like siblings, sharing is good when one is the recipient of the sharing.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A little sharing at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Food and Thought in Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

23 Jul

A baby gorilla looks almost contemplative while eating a midmorning snack at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I try often as I can to visit the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE. While technically not in Siouxland, it’s a relatively easy and “short drive” (1.5 hour drive) compared to visiting other nearby communities. Des Moines is a three hour, 200 mile drive city edge to city edge. And visiting the zoo is enjoyable to watch the animals. Although it sometimes requires getting up early to get to the zoo when it first opens, arriving early one may happen to find zoo personnel feeding the animals which will then find them more animated and before they decide to take a nap on a hot and humid, muggy kind of day.

A lowland gorilla eats a leafy snack at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A lowland gorilla looks thoughtful as it eats a leafy snack at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The gorillas in particular are most times reflective, watching the humans watch them, it almost seems contemplative. But since they have only a small area in which to traverse, pondering life seems a better way of dealing with circumstances. Maybe food for thought for the human counterparts.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A lowland gorilla eats a leafy snack at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A lowland gorilla eats a leafy snack at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Getting a Hug in Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

5 Jul

A couple of African lions show that some days are meant for lounging at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Every now and again, everyone and everything needs a hug. Folk and critters in Siouxland notwithstanding, this applies everywhere. Just a little reminder of our human and other nature, animals included. Traveling to the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE, it was kind of surprising to see the animals show affection. The lion sitting up was sitting by itself on a higher elevation rock when it got up and made its way down. The day was warming up and its fellow lion intimated to the other that getting comfortable was a good plane.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A couple of African lions show that some days are meant for lounging at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A couple of African lions show that some days are meant for lounging at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A couple of African lions show that some days are meant for lounging at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing Light in Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

23 Jun

A young orangutan eats a snack at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes trying to photograph a subject presents challenges of its own, in Siouxland and elsewhere, and “seeing the light” and best understanding the best way, and sometimes only way to make a photograph helps one grow and learn.

A recent visit to the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE found some of the animals active as they receive their morning meal or snack. This is most often the case. Even when traipsing about in the countryside animals are more active in the morning hours.

A young orangutan eats a snack at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The morning sunlight did a nice job of illuminating the wire fencing surrounding the orangutan enclosure at the zoo. And certain changes at the zoo with access or how close one can get also prevented one from finding a better angle to help alleviate or position oneself to photograph the young primate while it ate and be able to show its face. In addition to the sun, there was the matter of focusing on the face. Today’s AF points are pretty small allowing one to zero on a specific spot to autofocus, but trying to achieve that through the fencing presented its own set of problems. And the little guy did not want to sit still while trying to squeeze every last bit of meal from the package in its hands.

That left me using manual focus which is okay, but I have noticed as one gets older and the glasses go from being a single eye prescription to one that includes bi and try-focal additions, life get interesting.

The Olympus camera body I am currently using does allow one to set bright, colored peakness focusing assistance which helped me make certain the young orangutan was sharp.

An older orangutan eats a leafy treat at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Then an older orangutan was eating its meal sitting in a much brighter area of the enclosure and not cooperating by looking my way while I was trying to photograph it. But its mind and tummy was focused elsewhere. The same problems photographing the younger primate sitting in shade applied here as well and I probably made a number of images trying to keep focus and catching a look of the eyes as it fed.

I am one not opposed to practicing my skill set at times and I was getting the hand/eye coordination and seeing and hitting the shutter at the right moment as this orangutan moved about eating. One never knows either, that sometimes nice images can be made with a little patience and practice. While none of the images are stellar, the fact that the younger primate’s face shows keeps the attention on him and his activity of eating even with the distracting sunlit wire fencing.

And then there is photographing your subjects behind glass.

Sometimes it’s just what it is.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An older orangutan eats a leafy treat at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A silverback gorilla looks over at the window to see humans watching it as it roams about its enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Friday, June 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Hanging out with Mom in Siouxland, Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

25 Aug
A baby spider monkey hangs on to its mother while she walks about looking for food in its enclosure after staff recently fed the animals at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Venturing out in Siouxland has been nice even though there are still COVID concerns and one of the places I do enjoy visiting is the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE. The zoo is continually updating its facilities, which sometimes can be compared to highway construction, but it’s all good in that areas for the animals keep enlarging and to the extent possible mimicking the area of the world these creatures ancestry hails from. Learning recently that some of the creatures are rescue animals and others from already existing zoos. Plus walking about outdoors is pleasant even in the August heat and humidity that the Midwest produces.

A baby spider monkey snacks as it hangs on to its mother as she moves about the enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A baby spider monkey hangs on to its mother as she moves about the enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Watching a baby spider monkey cling to its mother’s back while she moved about the island the animals are kept on was simply amazing to watch. Its own tail curled around the mother’s as she climbed, swung, moving in all directions, especially when handlers brought food to the animals for a morning meal. Observing and watching behavior is always fascinating to me. And just a chance to get out, stretch one’s legs and enjoy the day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A baby spider monkey looks about as its mother moves about the enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A baby spider monkey hangs on to its mother as she moves about the enclosure at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE Tuesday, Aug. 17, 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©)

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©)

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