The photo was taken as the Zoo was about to close and I was on my way out, exactly one week before the first lockdown hit us, in March of last year.
Vasili remained at Assiniboine with his brother until he and Kira – who had stayed in Calgary her whole life to that point – arrived in Toronto to populate the Amur tiger exhibit once again with the departure of the panda family.
From my very fist visits to the walk-through I was able to view at least a piece of the joey’s anatomy (most often a leg or tail) protruding from the opening of Tori’s pouch, indicating that it wouldn’t be very long before the entire beautiful little creature would emerge and show himself to the world.
Outside, they have a spectacular exhibit just south of the main entrance to the pavilion. There is a sun shelter (the cave you see in this photo), a pond, some interesting nooks and crannies to explore, and lots and lots of very tasty grass! This is an awesome place to view these amazing creatures, as the railing around the exhibit is very comfortable to lean on and quite close to the tortoises.
Of all the times I’ve been to see Stevie, however, far and away the most memorable was the time represented by this month’s photo. That browse she has just taken a bite of is being offered to her by yours truly.
Lenny and his partner Holly are getting up there in years, but still going strong. Lenny was born on December 2, 1975 while Holly’s birthdate is estimated as sometime in 1972 (she was wild-captured).
Makepeace was born (hatched) on June 13, 1986, which makes him well over 33 years old! This site lists their life expectancy at 12-14 years in the wild and, for some inexplicable reason, shorter in captivity; I don’t imagine that second part to be true, but still: for Makepeace to outlive his normal life expectancy by a factor of nearly 2.5 is absolutely incredible.
At the very end of May, Philip and Tisa were “re-re-re-introduced” to each other and they began to breed the very same day. They bred again the next day, too; and when they went out on exhibit together on Day Three Tisa had had enough of Philip’s advances, but no problem: they just lay down a few feet apart, rooting and nibbling on whatever they dug up.
When I chose my featured subjects for 2020’s calendar, I tried to work in as many animals as I could whom I had never written about before. With a few days left before my self-imposed deadline to compose and print the calendars, Puzzle made her debut on exhibit in the Australasia Pavilion, and immediately began to steal the hearts of everyone who visited her.
Early in my time as a Volunteer at the Toronto Zoo (probably 2014 or so) I signed up to help out with a “Scent Study” with the polar bears. A grad student from Guelph, whose name I have sadly long forgotten, was doing some research for her thesis…