The current pandemic has wreaked havoc on our usual approach to travel. 2020 saw most sites closed or severely restricted. 2021 has brought some softening, which means that we were able to resume visits to major cities. For many years, we have had watchful eyes on a chance to visit Memphis, Tennessee. One of our itineraries would bring us close to the “Birthplace of Rock and Roll”. With only one day to see as much as possible, we had to narrow down our must-see list. Topping the list was the Memphis Zoo, which is home to some species not found in zoological parks in our neighborhood.
We want to thank Memphis Travel and the Memphis Zoo for hosting our visit. Rest assured that all opinions are ours.
The number one species that we were looking forward to seeing was the Giant Pandas. These mesmerizing creatures remind us of oversized stuffed animals, even though they can be surprisingly dangerous. During our planning stage, I had plotted a path that would bring us to their exhibit in short order. Arriving at the opening time meant that most of the animals were alert and active. Passing through a 50-foot pagoda, we found ourselves deposited at the perfect time to watch one of the two pandas eating breakfast. This endangered species spends a significant portion of its day, up to 14 hours, eating bamboo. A large amount of the balance of the day is spent resting. Luckily, we arrived during feeding time.
While the giant pandas were our primary target, there was no way we would have passed up the other exhibits. An African lion couple was entertaining the crowds with their vocal calls. The female was enjoying some people watching from her comfortable perch. The male strolled the exhibit keeping watchful eyes on zoo guests. It was a great opportunity for some photo captures.
Another big cat we spotted was the Snow Leopard. These creatures are always interesting to see. Being elusive in nature, it is rare to be seen in the wild. Unfortunately, this is a species that is closing in on extinction, if not for the work of zoological parks around the world. Seeing them in this exhibit allowed us to witness the beauty of their coats. In the wild, they would blend in with their natural habitat and be nearly invisible.
Moving from one exhibit to the next, we were seeing a pattern. In almost every case, the animals were keeping watchful eyes on all of us, visitors. Even as they paused for rest, it seemed they were still observing. We were also observing and noticed that the flamingos, while colorful, paled in comparison to the ones we spotted at the Philadelphia Zoo.
We moved into Primate Canyon, where the feedings had ended and the animals were now just observing. One of the Lowland Gorillas was intently watching the passing crowds. As we watched him, we wondered what he was thinking. His intense stare lasted for such a long time that we finally needed to move on to the next exhibit.
Silly but Serious
The last space we had time to view was the Orangutans. These creative creatures are almost always a source of entertainment. While most of them were busy scampering around their space, one had decided to play a solo game of hide-and-seek. We paused for quite a while watching his antics. The shot above shows his watchful eyes checking out my camera. It was clear that these fun-loving creatures had plenty of experience interacting with zoo visitors.
It feels good to be back at it and exploring again. The pandemic did make us realize that we enjoy nature and its wonders. We began hiking, albeit not the strenuous type, as well as visiting national parks. Over the coming months and years, we anticipate bringing you more articles that deal with all types of nature experiences. Zoological parks are definitely still on our list, but we also intend to step out into the wild some more. We hope you enjoy this added direction and will experience some of these sites, as well. It’s time to get back out into the world.