The Miami Metrozoo

White Tiger

Originally uploaded by Miracle Man

I enjoy zoos and I try to get to them when I can. On a lot of my trips, there usually isn’t time to stop in. But on a recent trip, I managed to have a couple of hours before my flight to make a repeat visit to the Miami Metrozo.

Zoo’s basically come in two varieties: The older style zoos have their exhibits in cages for the most part. An example of this is the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. The other is more open natural habitats where cages are exchanged for pits with electric fencing to keep the animals in.

Generally zoos that cage are constrained on space. The natural habitats take lots of space. For an inner city zoo like Lincoln Park, they do an amazing job in so limited space.

The Miami Metrozoo is a natural habitat zoo. The walk is 3 miles covering 300 developed acres out of 750. They offer a monorail and rentable 2 and 4 seat quad-cycles to help get around.

I was a little unprepared for the price. Still, the price is reasonable at less than $14 per adult. I was expecting under $10 but thats what I get for not visiting the zoo in almost 10 years.

The Metrozoo’s showcase exhibit is the tigers which is just off the front entrance. They have two typical bengal tigers and one white tiger. They are beautiful. The exhibit is decorated with what appear to be ruins from older civilizations.

As a photographer, there isn’t a lot of motivation to leave this exhibit. In particular around feeding time as the tigers can be rather active. They are quite photogenic and with a reasonable 80-200 mm lens attached to most digital SLR’s you can expect to get reasonable photos.

Then you turn around and a pond filled with colorful Caribbean flamingos await your lens.

My trip to the zoo was cut short by rain. And if your used to life in South Florida, it rains pretty much every day, but they are brief popup showers and usually a few short minutes later the sun is evaporating the rain creating a lovely hot humid day. Well this day, it was destined to rain for the rest of the afternoon.

I had gotten about as far into the park as the gorillas which is a story in itself. Anyone questioning evolution would have realized today that Darwin was on to something.

The big silver back was sitting by hisself just to the left of an edge in the rocks. About 10 feet to his right around the other side of the edge sat an older female who was sporting a rather round mid-section. Yes, she was an expectant mom. No big deal so far. However, the expressions were priceless. The silverback clearly had the “I’m in the doghouse… Please let me out” expression on his face. The female’s face was full of anger. Clearly she was unhappy with the greyback and she was sending him a silent message through her expression. He was begging for forgiveness and she wasn’t falling for his charms.

Not a word was said, but it spoke volumes.

While on the subject of evolution, just around the big rock sat the chimpanzees who were munching on some lovely coconuts. However, several were using sticks to extract the meat much as we would use a fork or spoon. Yep, thats tool use. Evolution right in front of our eyes. Next up for them, Corvettes!

I decided it was time to leave once I realized how wet I was and how much fun it was going to be on the airplane soaked.

The flipside of evolution, proof that there is a greater power at work. On my way into the park, a plastic grocery bag was blowing across the parking lot. Now of course having the bag make it to a habitat would be bad so I picked it up and with the brooding skies, I decide to pocket it instead of trashing it.

My Nikon D200 was being protected by this lucky plastic bag which just happened to float its way to me. Someone was watching out for me that day.

On the way back out, the tigers were up and moving and alert. Rain or not, it was time to spend more time with the kittens. Using my already soaked Publix bag as a raincoat for my camera I snapped a few more shots of the cats and then some very active shore birds.

Enough was enough. Car, Lunch/Dinner, then off to MIA for my trip home.

So if your in Miami, spring $14 and go see this fabulous zoo.

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