Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium

I have had the most exasperating, asinine and anal week! It started off with a high note, and came to a bitter conclusion today.
(By the way... the pictures here are best viewed at full screen.)

To summarize: I was offered a job. Good. Teaching. Great. Kids. Fantastic! I spent the last three days toiling on lesson plans and gathering data for their age group. I stopped by the facility and prepared the room (cleaning it top to bottom and organizing the materials already on hand!) I met with the staff. I have spent the last 72 hours immersed in preparations, including researching various programs that would advance the project as a whole. Today, thanks to an oversight on their part and a persnickety administrative bureaucrat, it was decided that my contract would not be signed. "Perhaps next year?" My would-have-been direct "boss" was ticked off four ways to Neptune, not at me, but at the board itself, as he really wanted to incorporate me into their curriculum.

Am I depressed over it? Not really. These things happen, and it "was not meant to be at this time." But am I pissed? Oh, I am indeed. The anger is not directed at anyone personally. It’s just a general sense of mal-use. I will get over it.

So, now free of imminent obligations, and not wanting to spend any more time in front of the computer (and deleting email pertaining to the courses I was going to teach) I decided on a whim to drive up to Pitt and check out the zoo and aquarium. We all need capricious moments to bring levity to dismal days.

The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium is a good little place. The admission is only $9 per adult, and membership is dirt cheap. The facility itself is nicely laid out, promoting a natural habitat environment for the animals in an effort to support conservation. They have developed research, breeding and conservation programs in tandem with international organizations and zoos across the country, and have more than thirty-two threatened or endangered species on their grounds.

The layout, as I mentioned, is very well thought out. You do not see much of Pittsburgh from the zoo's pathways, although some of the exhibits' moats prevent people from seeing the animals at close range. We arrived at 3 PM, and the heat was not too bad, but most of the animals were wisely resting at the back parts of their enclosures to better utilize the cool rocks and shade. I would have liked to have seen more enrichment toys for them, but I do understand the zoo's desire to make the habitats appear as natural as possible.

So, today (midday) was not a good time to view animals. Most were a flop, as they could not be seen from their cool spots in the tall grasses. I captured a few photographs, which are present here, and ended up cropping them (as the zoom feature on my digital camera only allows for so much distance!)

I am pleased to see that they have a Komodo dragon. These are breathtaking lizards, and although they can be fierce, they are generally more interested in their food and enrichment treats than scuttling along the ground in search of stray children. Like most zoos, Pittsburgh keeps these creatures behind a think panel of glass (bacteria is a major problem.) The Komodo here, No-name, was perfectly content to play dead among the grass.

The West African Dwarf Crocodile was an added delight. I have not seen one of these in captivity (but my zoo-going prowess is near nil, anyway.) They had several on display, which were basking in the sun (the open mouth helps regulate body temperature. It is quite comical to see 4 or 5 of these fellows all lined up on the bank with open mouths gaping at the crowds.)

The Snow leopard, Siberian tiger and Amur leopard were no-shows today, although we could see bits of ear or tail poking out of hidey-holes here and there.

On the African Savanna MIA list were the Black rhinos, African lions (we did see one lioness flopped high on the ledge), blesbok, Dama gazelle, and Thomson's gazelle. The ostrich, zebra and giraffe were happy to wander about their exhibits, as someone from the animal husbandry department was walking about with a water hose. The African elephants were inside their housing, but visitors could walk through to see them up close.

We had providence with the Tropical Forest, as the primates are housed indoors. The lemurs were content to frolic (and yes, lemurs smell terrible!), as were the other smaller monkeys. Their Bornean orangutan had a small male baby, and we watched as she set him to play on the branches overhead while she straightened up their nest. Orangutans are very intelligent creatures, and I felt a profound sense of general boredom from her. Perhaps it was the way she half-heartedly moved the hay back and forth, or her downcast eyes, or maybe she was simply sleepy - I am not a primate expert by any means! Still, it was a moment that had sadness to it.

We moved on to lunch and the African Ravine, where the African wild dog exhibit (a new addition) is kept. Much like their neighbors, these fascinating dogs hid themselves in the cool grasses and brush, so the observer was treated to bits of ear sticking up from their hiding spots.

After a quick meal of hamburgers and French fries, we found the bear exhibit. The Kodiak reminded us of our dog, Mattie. Its facial expression... one of half sleep and half "who are you people?" was a near duplicate of our dog's own face when she is bothered out of her nap. The bear hugged its favorite log play toy, and was asleep again before we had even passed by. The Spectacled bears were a bit more awake, and gazed at us. The black bear, next door, retreated to the confines of the shady portion of its exhibit, and did the perfect imitation of a shaggy rock.

We did not complete the whole zoo tour, and will have to visit the Worlds of Discovery (reptile house, amphibians, meerkats etc) at a later visit. But, we did stop by Water's Edge, the aquarium portion.

Water's edge is a small aquarium, but their tank layout done rather well. Of course, I took pictures of the leafy sea dragons (my favorite of seahorses!), as well as a few other fish.

We left right around closing at 6, but do to a concert at the Pavilion, we did not get back to Steubenville until late this evening (traffic! WOW!)

I think I will do a little work tomorrow, and then come home and relax. Despite the disappointment early this morning, it was a lovely day.

3 responded with...:

LoRi~fLoWer said...

I love zoos, but I went through a stage where I felt guilty for liking to see animals in captivity. However, with the zoos now fronting a lot of the conservation, research, and release programs, most of that guilt is assauged.

TMTW said...

Lori, I agree with that! It's been a long effort, but zoos are changing for the better!

Anonymous said...

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