I was hoping to go with one of the new Amurs this year, but a long delay in access to their exhibits for the viewing public meant any great shots of them would be snapped too late for my publishing deadline, so it looked as if I’d be “tigerless” for one more year. But at the 11th Hour – while my friend, Lynda, and I were at the Zoo hoping to finally catch a glimpse of the huge cats – lightning struck.
Considering how infrequently I get down to see the grizzly bears – relative to all the rest of the animals in the Zoo – they are pretty well-represented among my favourite photos and “Calendar Animals.” When you toss in the polar and panda bears, I am fairly certain that I have more “calendar-worthy” shots of animals in the Ursidae family than any other.
I had a big advantage that day, because I had gone into work early and, therefore, was able to finish early. As a result, I spent a good chunk of the afternoon at the gorilla exhibit before most other people got home from work or school, saw the news about the baby, and made it out to the Zoo.
When the babes finally did reappear, they must have sensed that the hammer was about to fall, because they did not come completely out of the den a second time, preferring instead to watch the funny-looking creatures staring back at them for as long as they could. And they almost overstayed their welcomes, because…
Dora was an amazing first-time Mom. Six is quite a large litter for an Arctic wolf and there were times when she looked so impossibly thin I didn’t know how she was going to survive until the cubs weaned. But survive she did, and a good portion of that credit goes to her sister, Auntie Vera.
The best guess anyone has is that the cubs were born on May 10, judging from when Dora was last seen (May 6) and when she reappeared for some food (May 11). And while everyone headed for the clearly dug-out den at the northwest corner of the enclosure –a fence was set up to keep giddy visitors a little farther from the “den” – my first glimpse of the new Mama (pictured here at right) came in an entirely different area of the domain.
A quick word about that name, “white rhino.” There are five existing species of rhinoceros: greater one-horned (sometimes called “Indian”), Javan, Sumatran, African white, and African black. The white rhino is, of course, not “white” at all, as can easily be seen in this photo of Tom. The most popular theory of the etymology of this name is that it is derived from the Afrikaans word weit, which means “wide,” referring to this species’ broad muzzle.