“There’s an exact moment for leaping into the lives of wild animals. You have to feel their lives first, how they fit the world around them. It’s like the beat of music. Their eyes, the sounds they make, their head, movements, their feet and their whole body, the closeness of things around them – all this and more make up the way they perceive and adjust to their world.”
This year I’ve decided I want to get back into my photography by going on an ‘artist date’ every couple of months. Fortunately, I have a wonderful group of creative friends and it’s usually not too difficult to convince others to join me in these types of outings. First up this year was a trip to the Melbourne Zoo to photograph the wildlife. I was joined by Megan Jackson (whose wonderful photographs can be seen at Stardust and Melancholy) and we had a brilliant day. We patiently observed the wildlife, took lots of photographs, and enjoyed our stroll around the zoo.
We watched the lions for some time. The light was falling very nicely for us, even looking through a glass enclosure, and the lions seemed content, for the most part resting in the shade.
The Sumatran Tiger made us both feel a bit anxious and sad, as he was pacing back and forth along the back fence of the enclosure. I must admit that I have a love/hate relationship with zoos. I know they do incredible conservation work, but it’s so hard to reconcile seeing animals caged in a zoo after you’ve seen them in the wild. I’ve never been fortunate enough to see a tiger in the wild, but I have seen elephants, lions, giraffes, zebra and many other animals wandering the vast plains of Africa. The first time I went to a zoo after that trip, I was heartbroken, especially for the elephants that were housed in a tiny concrete enclosure. It was a long time before I went to another zoo.
The elephants at the Melbourne Zoo have a much better enclosure than the zoo I went to not long after I’d been in Africa, but I think these photographs serve to highlight my complicated feelings about seeing elephants in zoos. Also, if you read my blog, Botswana’s elephants, it might make more sense.
The orangutans are always fun to watch and we spent quite a long time watching this youngster playing and then cuddling with her mother.
I enjoyed seeing the lemurs, particularly as they were in a free-range enclosure. They seemed equally curious by us humans as we were in them, and they came very close to a few children who were delighted to get up so close and personal.
We finished our outing by having a drink overlooking the giraffes enclosure. I love giraffes… and I particularly love the last shot I got… the textures from concrete enclosure, the tree and its branches, and the giraffe, make for an interesting photograph.