Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Bring any seal sandwiches?

Okay, okay...I can hear that collective gasping of my name, several exclamation points at the end, but really -- what do you think polar bears in the wild eat? Guess it's a lucky thing for the seals that their habitat is at the other end of the zoo, eh? (Just kidding, really! I happen to love the seals.)

This is one of two polar bears at the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, which is one of only a handful of free zoos left in the United States that is AZA accredited. Yes, I said free. As in no admission and no parking -- a stipulation made by the Vilas' when the land was donated to the city in 1904 in order that all people may enjoy the park. The zoo is supported entirely by donations and annual fundraisers, and over the past decade has been undergoing a massive "reZOOvenation". Last summer saw the revamping of the children's zoo, including the addition of a "conservation carousel" that will feature endangered animals. They also started work on a new habitat for the bison and prairie dogs (the latter of which used to be in the children's zoo). This year they begin work on a new "Arctic Passage" exhibit that will include polar bears, harbor seals (so much for seal safety, hehe) and reindeer.

I read today that the five lion cubs born here last spring will all be going to new homes, too. The two sisters are going north together, one male has already gone to a new home, and the other two males will be leaving soon. I'm sure they are going to good homes, but it's a bit sad saying goodbye, having watched them grow up over the past year.

Photo by HL Lester, Sept 2005


Jana said...

LOL Trix...You are baaaaad. :-D

Great pic, though. I love the polar bears. I don't think any of the zoos I've ever been too had them. Of course, it's been AGES since I went to a zoo...well, other than a petting zoo. hehehe I think the last time I went was freshmen year of high school. Went to the Jackson zoo on a field trip.

Heather said...

Sorry, I couldn't resist! LOL

I love the polar bears, and we've had two at our zoo for ages. We started with twin males, then they traded one of them for a female. That's either Nanuk or Nora in the pic. I try to go to our zoo here at least once a year - I mean, it's close and it's free and though it's small compared to the big city zoos, it's a nice walking workout. It's been ages since I've been to the Milwaukee County Zoo, or any of that size. I'm sure we'll be taking Payton there before too long!