Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Thursday Thirteen 300: Henry Vilas Zoo

Madison is mourning the passing of our 18-yr-old male lion, Henry, this evening. Henry came to the Henry Vilas Zoo in 1997. He and mate Vilas, who died last year, raised eight cubs together.

The Henry Vilas Zoo is one of only about a dozen FREE zoos in the US. Land for a 63-acre park was donated to the city by the Vilas family in 1904, with the stipulation that it always be admission free. The 28-acre zoo was built on that land, and the first animal exhibits debuted in 1911. The zoo has undergone many changes over the decades. My sisters and I have fond memories of Monkey Island, which had a seal moat around it (see another photo here). At certain times of day, you could buy fish to throw to the seals. They discontinued that practice for the health and well-being of the animals.

I featured photos of Cyber, an Amur (Siberian) tiger and the river otters (my zoo favorites) in previous posts for Wordless Wednesday, but in memory of Henry, here are a few more pics from a recent trip to the zoo.

One of two alligators at the Herpetarium.

There are several African penguins at Vilas. The one on the left is Meredith, the first
chick to be born at Vilas in sixteen years. She hatched on January 18.

Bucky Badger, resting up for fall football.

The zoo has two adult chimpanzees, Cookie and Magadi.

One of two new male reticulated giraffes at the zoo. I think this one is
Eddie, the 4-yr-old. Wally is slightly smaller and only a year old.

Geoffrey's Marmoset--these guys were fun to watch!

Shakura, our new two-year-old female African lion, arrived in March.

The prairie dogs, part of the North American
Prairie exhibit, are always fun to watch.

George the White Rhino snoozes in the sun. His mate, Gracie, passed last summer
at age 41 from a uterine tumor. Zoo rhinos typically live into their mid-30's.
George and Gracie were the zoo's longest-living residents.

This is either Betty or Blackie, one of our two adult harbor seals. They had a pup
last year, christened Lucille for a character on "Arrested Development."
Seals usually stop having pups in their early 20s, but both parents are age 42.

One of two tortoises at the Vilas Herpetarium--both are teenagers in their 30s.

My sister and this white-handed gibbon were making kissy-faces at each other.

RIP, Henry. We'll miss hearing you roar!

LINKING TO: Thursday Thirteen


Shelley Munro said...

Aw, that's sad. Love the giraffe pic.

sandyland said...

great photos

colleen said...

I'm glad you showed a picture of Henry at the end. What a great zoo.

Heather said...

Shelley: Thanks, I love that giraffe pic, too. It's kind of funny seeing them bend down to graze, instead of munching on the leaves of trees.

Heather said...

Thanks, Sandy!

Heather said...

Colleen: Of course I had to include a pic of Henry! It really is a nice zoo, considering how small it is in comparison to more "known" zoos. They are finally breaking ground for a new "Arctic Passage" that will house the seals, reindeer herd, bears and other animals.

Alice Audrey said...

I want to go back and hang out with you there again.

Heather said...

Alice: Any time! And maybe next time you're in the area it won't pour rain like last time so we can walk through the Arboretum, too. ☺

CountryDew said...

Great shots. When I was child we used to go to Mill Mountain Zoo - loved it. It was a summer excursion. I haven't been in years and years.

Paige Tyler said...

Great pic! We love zoos!


My TT is at

Heather said...

Anita: We always looked forward to visiting the zoo as kids. Now I live only a couple miles from it.

Heather said...

Thanks, Paige! Visiting the zoo with my niece is always fun. ☺

Hazel Ceej said...

Awww.... Is that a giraffe curtsey? Beautiful all.


Heather said...

Hazel: LOL...since it's a male giraffe, I suppose he could be bowing to his adoring fans. *G*

Alice Audrey said...

That would be great.

Heather said...


Rekaya Gibson said...

I love your pics of the zoo animals. Thank you for sharing.

The Food Temptress

Heather said...

Thanks, Rekayah, I'm glad you liked!