On Thursday the 6th, our friend Kris Wilke came in from Madison to visit. She's particularly fond of our Zoo, and the weather was good, so off we went. We got there just as the Zoo was opening, and just ahead of a tidal wave of school children on class trips. We surfed ahead of the wave deep into the park, and got to see a few of the animals in their early-morning routines before the horde caught up with us. Our route took us past the badger's enclosure, and we were delighted to see the badger was out and about. Normally, they are actually shy creatures, and about all we are accustomed to seeing is the animal's nose and eyes as it crouches defensively in the opening to it's inner cage. Not this morning, though! We got to watch for several minutes as the badger strolled about, sniffed and scratched (showing us its impressive claws). That was great! The ubiquitous peacocks that roam the Zoo were in fine feather, and we were amused to note that some Canada geese seem to be acquiring peacock habits, such as trying to pose dramatically on outcrops of the Zoo rock formations. We watched the sea lion apparently doing "loosening up" exercises on its neck (revealing how much neck it actually has) while the harbor seal floated still asleep. We sat caracal kittens in the Cat house which was a treat, although we were sad to find that the Zoo's elderly male lion had died of cancer. The Siberian tigers were quite magnificent, as usual.
We also looked in on the Red Pandas (the smaller cousin of the large black-and-white pandas), gorillas and bonobos, the renovated Bird house, and the "Raptory" theater for a close look at hawks, owls, and buzzards, before calling it a day. The Zoo also hosts warthogs (feeling antisocial today), koalas, and arctic wolves, but we'll get back to them another time.