01 April 2007

It is a Zoo in Here

Instead of work on Friday, I decided to take a day off and head to the zoo. Why the zoo you ask? Well, I wanted to check out some of my camera gear before heading to Africa (33 more days!) and what better way to do that then to photograph some animals. I have a new 1.7x tele-converter for my Panasonic Lumix FZ20 as well as a new monopod with shoulder brace. I wanted to try this new gear out to make sure it would work for my african safari. I also have an older 70-210, f/2.8 zoom lens that I am thinking of taking with me, but it is heavy and I was not sure if it was worth the extra weight to drag along.

So off to the zoo I went, getting there early to avoid any crowds and catch the animals while they were still active. I hit the African safari exhibit first (of course), seeing a hippo and some lions. The africa wild dogs were great and I hope to get a chance to see these wild in Botswana (they are rare).

About when I was finishing up with the Africa exhibit, in came the hoards.... a mass of screaming, whiny school kids. Ugh! There is not a better form of birth control than having to navigate this seemingly endless hoard of brats.

I quickly went the opposite direction and found a little bit of solitiude in the Jungle exhibit. The gorillas were enjoying their breakfast and the Jaguar was pretty sitting there posing for all. But the best was the lemurs. Now I am sure we have all seen the animated movie Madagascar which features these wonderful little critters, but seeing them live up in the trees was a treat. Howling and jumping all over the place, they are as cute as their animated movie counterparts.

After a brief lunch, I headed to the far-off North American exhibit with grizzy bears and mountain goats, but as it was mid-day, most of the animals seemed to be in sleep or hide mode. The good thing though, the school kids also seemed to be in hide mode. YAY!

The Asia exhibit was next with elephants, orangutans, and other cute monkeys then it was time to head to the exit via the Africa exhibit. The wild dogs were much more active as it was close to feeding time.

It was a fun day watching all the animals and it was nice to see our local zoo focus on a lot of endangered animals. I think it brings some great awareness on the plight of some of these endangered species. I do however, wish that people would actually read the signs next to each animal exhibit. I lost count of the folks who called the wild dogs hyenas or called the jaguar a tiger or called the lemurs monkeys. And I am not talking about the school kids either; it was their parents, teachers, and chaperons who were getting this wrong. The signs are there for a reason folks!

As for the camera gear .... I was very happy with the results. The teleconverter on my Lumix was fabulous, getting me up to near 700mm zoom capability and the monopod allowed me to use the massive 70-210 f/2.8 zoom and maintain most of the sharpness. I was happy with the results and it made the trip to the zoo and the day off work very worthwhile.

For more photos, you can check out my smugmug site.

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