Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Southeast Road Trip Day 9

Since Mike didn't get much sleep, we cancelled the hotel in Nashville and stayed in Atlanta another night. While he rested, I took the truck to the Atlanta Zoo to see some more Giant Pandas. On the way to see them, there were Flamingos, Elephants, a pair of Southern Ground Hornbills, Lions, Meerkats, a Rhinoceros, Giraffes, Zebra, Ostriches and a Waterbuck. A guy by the meerkats told his daughter that they were "meekrats" and a woman told her grandson that the rhinoceros was a hippo! The guy could have been kidding, but the woman was serious. Even though you couldn't see the rhino's head because it was laying behind a log, there was still at least two signs on the exhibit. The Waterbuck was easy to spot when I first walked up, but I sat down to check the map and he hid behind a tree for the rest of the time.

Next there was a Bongo and two Kori Bustards, then the Gorilla enclosure and then The Living Treehouse housing lots of birds. Adjacent to the treehouse are some Black-and-white-ruffed Lemurs who were all resting, unlike the Ring-tailed ones we'd seen in DC. More primates were next door, in an enclosure shared by Drills, Mona Monkeys and Wolf's Guenons. The Mona Monkeys were running around chasing each other and I noticed that one was missing a back leg, but was able to keep up with the others just fine. I tried to get a good view of the Asian Small-clawed Otters, but they were all huddled up against a door. The Orangutans were not as shy, there was an adult male and a baby climbing on the structure in their exhibit and another male relaxing in full view of all us gawkers. The last two animals I saw before the Giant Pandas were a Red Panda, who was sleeping in his box that resembled a bird feeder, and the Komodo Dragon who was perfectly positioned in a window so people could place their loved ones in front and snap pictures.

Time for Giant Pandas! First up outside was Yang Yang, the male who walked around for a bit and then sat down to inhale bamboo. Also outside was his daughter, two and a half year old Mei Lan, who alternated between laying on her stomach and laying on her back lazily chomping bamboo. Then inside Yang Yang's son, seven month old Xi Lan, was climbing on a branch, entertaining all the kids and adults squeezed under the canopy to watch him. His mother Lun Lun kept an eye on him while scarfing bamboo. Back outside, Yang Yang paced around some more and then decided to cool off in the water.

I stopped for a snack and then went over to see some big cats. The Sumatran Tigers were easy to photograph, but Moby the Clouded Leopard was very elusive. The next area had more birds, including a pair of Milky Eagle Owls, a King Vulture and a Cassowary. All of the Kangaroos were resting, but they kept a close eye on any nearby humans. Second to last was the Petting Zoo with Kunekune pigs, three kinds of goats and sheep, and last was the Giant Tortoises.

I headed back to the hotel to check on Mike and he was tired but the pain had subsided, so I drug him out to dinner at Carrabba's.

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