Monday, June 8, 2015

Bronx Zoo Part IV: Madagascar, Mouse House, and Congo Gorilla Forest

Alternative title: Everywhere Else I Went to But Did Not Take Enough Pictures Of.

The Madagascar exhibit at the Bronx Zoo is one of the best I have visited, even though my pictures may not demonstrate that adequately. Most of the enclosures were spacious and it did a good job of showcasing the varied environments that can be found on the island. (It is not just one big jungle!)

Here is a Coquerel's sifaka, well known for its distinctive leaping gait on the ground and hosting an educational children's show about animals.

A collared brown lemur.

A ring-tailed vontsira, one of the few live specimens you can see in North America! Once thought to be mongooses, vontsiras are now known to be part of a distinct Malagasy radiation of feliform carnivorans, the euplerids.

I passed by an Aldabra tortoise pen while walking to my next stop, but perhaps even more interesting than the inhabitants (to a paleontology enthusiast) was this sign with a sculpture of the Triassic stem-turtle Odontochelys.

My next stop was the Mouse House. The name of this building is not only a nominal shorthand for "small mammal", as it really does focus on rodents, and especially rats and mice. I appreciated that, for they are commonly neglected by many zoos (but not the Ueno Zoo, another similarity between these two geographically disparate institutions). This is despite rodents representing most of extant mammal species and frequently being very active and adorable (i.e.: potentially appealing to visitors). That is not to say the Mouse House only houses rodents; a memorable resident I saw was a very energetic spotted skunk. I was far less pleased to see a number of inconsiderate assholes shining their cellphones into the nocturnal exhibits.

Regrettably, fast-moving critters and dimly-lit habitats were not a good combination for my aging camera, so the only satisfactory picture I got out of the Mouse House was of this green acouchi. But should you ever find yourself visiting, remember to check out the Northern Luzon giant cloud rat!

My final stop was at the Congo Gorilla Forest, a series of quite impressive displays of African rainforest animals, culminating in (naturally) gorillas. This is another part of the zoo that requires you to pay extra and it was evidently a major attraction, because it was incredibly crowded when I visited. Due to this last factor in particular, I am once more unable to provide a representative sample of photos.

An okapi, the short-necked forest cousin of the giraffe.

A Nile monitor lizard.

An African lungfish.

A long-tailed hornbill.

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