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User / Jim Frazee / Sets / Elephant Mesa
Jim Frazee / 4 items

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Explore #406, 10/8/08.

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I was rummaging through old photos today and I found this one amongst the ones of the babies that I shot last July. I hadn't noticed, prior to this, that her tongue is sticking out, which makes it different from other shots I've seen of meerkats, so I couldn't wait to process and post it.

The most recent ZooNooz (San Diego Zoo monthly publication) featured an article on the meerkats that live on Elephant Mesa, which I found interesting. For example, I found out that the person in my shot with the curious babies is Laura Weiner, senior keeper at the Zoo, who was interviewed for the article.

According to Weiner, "They are curious about anything and everything. They have burlap bags and sisal doormats to dig in and sit on. For enrichment, sometimes we put items in boxes for them to discover, and they love it. Everything must be explored--even my shoes. They're funny little animals with distinct personalities. They aren't prairie dogs or other rodents like some people think. But they do have one catlike quality--they can come up and touch me, but I'm not supposed to touch them." (Which is exactly what's going on in my photo, where you can see her sneaking a gentle pet with her thumb.)

By Googling the name on the instrument she was holding (InfoPet), which I was able to read in other shots I had taken, I figured out that these animals are micro-chipped and that she was probably reading the chips, possibly to tell them apart for her paperwork. I also found out from the article that, although they are extremely social animals, they have lots of spats, which sometimes have to be broken up by the keepers (explaining the wound, visible in one of my shots). Also interesting was that one of the subordinate females, Kasane, was mated with and had to be moved to another enclosure, because they thought she was pregnant and the dominant female, Ngami, would not have allowed babies that were not hers in the colony. Turns out she wasn't pregnant, after all.

Tags:   Reflections Meerkat Suricate Suricata suricatta Elephant Mesa San Diego Zoo wiseass SuperShot The Perfect Photographer platinumphoto wonderful world! ABigFave mywinners

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Masai Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi). Males grow to 18 feet tall and weigh up to 4,275 lbs, yet they can run 35 miles per hour, and kill a lion with a single kick. They have a four-chambered stomach and chew their cud like cows. Their tongues are 18 inches long. Who knew that they are purple?

While I was shooting the giraffes, several tour buses came by, and every one of the drivers mentioned that the giraffes have seven vertebrae in their spines, the same as humans.
I think I've got that down, now. Some of the drivers even quizzed the passengers as to how many vertebrae there are in a giraffe's neck, but the response reminded me of the scene in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", where Ben Stein's character was teaching economics. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Seven.

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Tags:   Masai Giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi San Diego Zoo GoldStarAward NaturesFinest BEJ ImpressedBeauty F.A.B. ABigFave AnAwesomeShot SpecAnimal

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Alignment of horns and mane reminds me of a gun sight.

It's not polite to eat with your nose open.

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Tags:   Masai Giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi San Diego Zoo wiseass UltimateShot OvertheExcellence NaturesFinest BlueRibbonWinner GoldStarAward

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Greater Indian One-horned Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis)

I had already zoned out on the tour bus drivers and didn't get the story on this rhinoceros, which was next to the giraffes, so I'll have to go back again (darn!) and listen to it. She was isolated in her enclosure, for some reason and, in a bit of anthropomorphism, I now feel really sorry for her, which I didn't at the time. Maybe it's because, in this shot, she appears to be crying.

Here you go, Jill. You asked for it. ;-)
(Everybody knows this is not Jill's ass, because this animal is alone, and Jill has tons of friends here on Flickr.)

Tags:   Greater Indian One-horned Rhinoceros Rhinoceros unicornis San Diego Zoo wiseass A-ZofDigitalEditing


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