Wednesday, February 04, 2009


There is something about blowing off work in the afternoon to go to the zoo. Today, Todd and I went on a private tour of the Roger Williams Zoo in Providence, RI. Though we try to visit the zoo at least twice per year, we still managed to see and do things at the zoo that we hadn't seen before.

The Roger Williams Zoo was established in 1872, and is one of the oldest zoos in the US. It's home to many rare creatures, one of which I had seen today for the first time--the American Burying Beetle. This beetle is nearly extinct, and the conservationists are working to restore the beetle's populationby breeding them at the zoo and releasing them into the wild. We got the chance to see where the beetles are being raised and to learn about how their population is now thriving on Nantucket Island.

Also on our tour today we were given the opportunity to feed the elephants and giraffes. We held pieces of pears, green beans and oranges and they were sucked from our hands by Katie, a 24 year old elephant. It's a strange sensation, as there are 80,000 muscles in the elephant's trunk. The tip of the trunk extends to enclose the piece of food as it sucks to hold the food into place. Then the trunk carries the food to the mouth. The food is held in place by the suction and by the amazing muscle control the animal has in its trunk, which surprised me. While I know that there are no teeth in an elephant's trunk, I expected there would be some in there that would help her hold onto the food. She stretched the ends of the trunk over my hands to make sure that she captured the food. We played tug with her, and she gently pulled onto the food until she managed to free it from my hands. To give you an idea of the control they have with their trunk, the zookeeper told us that the elephants have been known to unscrew bolts in their pens with their trunks. Imagine unscrewing a bolt with your nose.

Todd is feeding and petting Katie. You can see how she closed his fingers into the end of her trunk. It didn't hurt, it just felt strange.

This is Xiang, an endangered red panda. The zoo is currently looking for a mate for this panda to help perpetuate the species. I would love to see those babies, I mean, look at that face.

This is Kenya, a baby giraffe born in late December. Kenya's mom and dad, Sukari and Griffin, are in the pen with her. There is another pregnant giraffe in the pen as well, who will give birth soon.

This is Sukari, Kenya's mom. Todd is feeding her some romaine lettuce here.

Katie's teeth. If you look closely inside her mouth, above her tongue, you'll see two rows of molars on either eide.

Camels in the sun. I wonder how these desert animals are coping with the snow.

Kenya sitting. She awkwardly lowered herself over her gangly legs, and clumsily flopped onto the floor. Adorable.

Beej feeding Sukari. Griffin, the darker giraffe, is on the left. They drool. A lot. I should have brought an umbrella.

Flamingoes in the snow. How weird does that look?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great pictures, Beej. Especially the giraffes. They're beautiful.

February 5, 2009 at 1:58 AM  

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