Every year the local zoos do a free admission for Mother’s day. I usually have a membership to the Boston zoos but this makes for an excellent excuse to see the Roger Williams which is close but not one we go to frequently.
There is nothing like seeing the real animal for understanding how it truly moves and behaves. Photos capture a moment, but observation allows for all the little quirks to come to light. I wish i had all day to sit and sketch, which I think is even better than photography to understand them.
I know zoos come with complex issues, but I support the ones I do because they are AZA accredited, take animal welfare seriously, and participate in survival plans that save the species I love. For example, the Roger Williams Park Zoo helps treat fungal disease in the Timber Rattlesnake, which is an endangered animal I find in my own backyard! And they also hatch and raise eggs for release.
Another SSP (species survival plan) they help with is the genetics of Red Wolves. Smaller and rarer cousin to the Grey wolf, these are only found in southern North America. There are very few left. They have a pair that is a bit shy but can be seen from time to time. Today was very rainy, but their female Shiloh apparently had no problem lying out in the wet. She was cleaning her toes and trying to catch a nap!
One of my favorite exhibits is their rain forest building. Aside from the larger, dangerous animals, like the komodo dragon and giant otter, there are no cages the animals are freely moving around you with plenty of space away from people. The sloth sleeps directly overhead on a branch and the birds fly around unhindered. They interact with the visitors and seem interested in the excitement. Golden lion tamarin monkeys climb on the ropes overhead. It’s quite an experience!
My daughter loves to come, and it’s wonderful sharing this experience. We try to talk a lot about the adaptations of the animals and also show appreciation for those that aren’t as charismatic as the tiger. We try to spend as much time with the tree kangaroo and the snakes as the larger animals. I wish I could see the animals in the natural habitats but I am grateful there are good places that take animal welfare into account.
These field trips inform and inspire some of the work that I do, and I’m glad to share <3