Gorilla gorilla, Gorilla

Visiting Toronto Zoo during the Thanksgiving weekend was perhaps not the brightest idea I’ve ever had – the place was uncomfortably busy, with rather a preponderance of morons banging on the glass to try and get the animals to do something (what kind of idiot does that anyway?).

However, in amongst all this was the rather touching sight of a mother gorilla with her recently arrived baby; this was one of a few shots through the glass that came out okay.

I feel that scenes such as this do reinforce the notion that the great apes are people too.

(Incidentally, I was very well-behaved and resisted the urge to throttle people referring to these things as ‘monkeys’)

People too?

Orangutan, Toronto Zoo

It’s difficult to do Orang-utans justice in just a few lines; they have such intelligence and depth to them – I still recall being taught about their behaviour, when I was at university and eventually reaching the conclusion that you can make a very good case that they are people too – admittedly, hairy orange ones. When you meet their eye or watch them for any period of time, it’s hard to deny.

One of humanity’s more deplorable activities is the destruction of the Orangs’ habitat (and the habitat of hundreds of others species at the same time), much of it to produce palm oil. So, don’t buy stuff that has unsustainable palm oil in it – at the moment, that apparently includes Tim Horton’s doughnuts and suchlike (sorry, Canadians).

Incidentally, for anyone who doesn’t know, they are not monkeys (contrary to what I hear a lot of people saying at the zoo) – they’re apes, dammit!

A grand old lady

Clouded Leopard, Merriweather, Toronto Zoo

This is Merriweather, Toronto Zoo’s venerable Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa); every other time I’ve visited her, she’s been asleep – this was a rare opportunity to see her moving about.

When you’re as old as this Clouded Leopard, you’re entitled to a bit of rest!

A typical life-span for a Clouded Leopard in captivity is apparently a little over a decade; Merriweather was almost twice that when this image was taken. These days, she is no longer on public display and is living out her final years in secluded retirement, I’m told.

This isn’t the clearest image, partly due to being shot through glass and at a comparatively high iso setting.



This rather splendid fellow is a resident of Toronto Zoo, although I’m embarrassed to say that I can’t remember the species – it’s some sort of modest-sized crocodilian, possibly an American Alligator.

One has to be very careful when visiting zoos in Ontario: mainly due to a lack of serious regulation, a lot of them are apparently very sketchy in terms of animal welfare etc. Toronto Zoo is about the only one that I know about that you can visit hereabouts with a reasonably clear conscience – they take pretty good care of their residents.

I never get tired of visiting zoos and photography provides another reason to visit: they provide a good opportunity to practice getting images of animals, although visiting early in the day is wise (or nearer evening feeding time), if you want to catch much behaviour. Otherwise, you’re essentially shooting still-life…