Animals have always been what I’m drawn too. As a child, when asked what I wanted to be, I answered with the typical veterinarian answer. I loved all things about the ocean (specifically dolphins as my swim team was the Blue Dolphins) and when my parents traveled to Vegas and brought back a white tiger stuffed animal from the then-popular Siegfried & Roy show, I fell in love.
Thanks to my desire to be a mermaid, aquariums always fascinated me. Even from when I borrowed my mom’s tiny point and shoot camera, I would take a million photos and go home excited to view each and every photo of blurry fish warped by the tank’s glass. Zoo’s were less common to me as there are none in New Hampshire, so I still get excited when José and I go.
On our way out of Boston from our anniversary weekend, José suggested we stop by the Franklin Park Zoo. Because of the season, a large portion of the exhibits were closed including most of the Australian animals, the giraffes, and few other small buildings. Thinking that the zoo was going to be pretty empty, I brought along my camera to play with the new lens I had purchased myself for Christmas. (Note to self: Next time don’t get so excited about the price that you forget to check if the lens has much-needed image stabilization.)
The zoo’s Tropical Forest building was the busiest—at a toasty 72° compared to outside’s 35° I wasn’t surprised. Most of the animals were napping aside from a western lowland gorilla who was dragging a blanket around, a male giant anteater who was eating, some cotton-top tamarins, and the free-flying birds that swooped around overhead.
The only animals I could really capture were a group of ring-tailed lemurs who rotated between yawning, napping, and grooming one another. It made me want to put a crown on one and call him King Julien, but I’m pretty sure they would have kicked me out.
The second we stepped outside of the Tropical Forest all you could hear was the lions roaring. We passed a few cranes and other large birds while walking around, but there wasn’t much activity until we got to the Serengeti Crossing and Tiger Tails exhibits.
One of the two male african lions (apparently they are brothers) was lounging on a rock while the other was pacing by the viewing panels howling at the children behind the glass. Every now and then the other one would chime in and you could hear them almost across the entire park.
I couldn’t help but joke about how their manes are like Ax in the winter if I didn’t clip him and the rest of their bodies were Ax now that he is completely naked.
The tiger enclosure was right next to the lions and had two of the big cats—one white named Luther and one classic orange and black named Anala—that were rescued from an illegal home. Of course, I was obsessed with the white tiger (though I didn’t get any good photos of him) and tigers are also José’s favorite animal, so we spent a bit of time there.
They took turns pacing by the fence that separated them from the lions and the gate that seemingly led to where they get fed or stay overnight while the other would take a cat nap. We noted that there must’ve been quite a few feathered fatalities as all the birds that were flying around steered clear of the big cat enclosures and laughed about how the fence warned “ANIMALS MAY BITE” as if it wasn’t obvious to not stick your fingers into a tiger’s cage.
Right before leaving we wandered over to the Children’s Zoo that had black-tailed prairie dogs, red pandas, and a Reeve’s muntjac that kept standing under the red pandas, waiting for them to drop their snacks. If the zookeeper wasn’t standing nearby I probably would’ve climbed the enclosure to snuggle with the red pandas because they just look like soft stuffed animals that are alive.
While most of my shots didn’t come out as expected (and I realized just how much I need to make sure I don’t ever accidentally buy a lens without stabilization again) I did love getting to see all of the animals at a quieter, almost barren time of year.