Wednesday, October 27, 2010

No Grizzlies Mangling Pumpkins, but Still a Lovely Day

Went up to the zoo today, intending to join a press photo shoot heralding this upcoming weekend's Pumpkin Bash--an event featuring the joyful union of curious, hungry animals and large orange gourds. (Think "hippo eating pumpkin.") I looked forward to seeing meerkats dart in and out of Jack o' Lanterns and the grizzly bears destroying theirs. This week, however, has been confusing, and I had shown up on the wrong day.

But this was not even remotely a disappointment. For the sky was deep blue, the air crackling with autumn chill, the leaves flaming with color. And any day that includes meeting a wallaroo is a good one.

The keeper noted that this wallaroo is
the grand old lady of the zoo's mob and
often appears to pose for pictures with
great dignity. I like her black gloves.

The barred owl was enjoying a nap
on his branch, stirring only to regard me
soulfully before shutting his
eyes and no doubt getting ready
for a good day's sleep.

The Komodo dragon, proudly displaying his lacerating claws
and his deadly, bacteria-laden saliva.

You can never have too many meerkats.
The day also offered up many non-zoo animals to enjoy: a bevy of crows in a bare birch tree, lots of very busy squirrels, and many tiny Anna's hummingbirds zzzeeping and zipping overhead. Anna's hummingbirds overwinter in Seattle, which is a fairly recent phenomenon. Ornithologists speculate that a combination of feeders, exotic garden plants, and climate change may account for this shift in behavior (and they have suggestions here for how to take care of hummingbird feeders in winter).

Hummingbirds can also sink into a state of torpor at night
when it's cold in order to conserve their energy.

The nice thing about having missed the photo shoot, of course, is now I have an excellent excuse to skip off to the zoo again in the middle of another work day.