Friday, April 11, 2014

Girlfriends' Get-together 2014

I barely had time to catch my breath before leaving Austin to visit my good friend, Eugenia, in Alexandria, VA.  Our friendship goes back more years than we care to count, to our time as legal administrators in Austin, TX.  Eugenia and George are kind enough to put up with me every year or so, and John and I look forward to having them as guests whenever they need a “Texas fix.”  

Last year, I was fortunate my visit coincided with the cherry blossom extravaganza in Washington.  This year has been a good year for blooms, as well.

Eugenia and I hit the ground running the day after I arrived, with a photo-op visit to the National Zoo where we photographed the Giant Pandas.  The male is Tian Tian (pronounced t-YEN t-YEN), whose name means “more and more.”  He was busy enjoying more and more of his breakfast of bamboo, rolling around on his back and crunching the stalks like they were candy.

In the adjacent enclosure, Mei Xiang, the female, was chowing down as well.  Her name is pronounced may-SHONG and means “beautiful fragrance.”  

But what we really came for was to see her baby, Bao Bao, which translates as "treasure" or "precious."  She is over six months old now, and made her public debut in January.  Just a few days ago she made her first public excursion outside.  There are trees in the compound Bao Bao shares with her mother, and she has learned to climb.  We watched for a while as she explored the fork in this tree, 

then settled down for a nap.  

We didn’t tour the entire, zoo, but did see a number of the other “stars.”  Among them were these two young tigers.  They are brothers and share a large habitat.  

We were told that the planks around the trees in the compound are to protect them from the tigers’s claws.

Another popular attraction at the zoo is the fishing cats.  They are native to Asia, and actually dive under water and swim to catch fish.  The female was sequestered in another part of the zoo because she is expecting cubs.  The male, however, was having breakfast.  He may be only a little larger than a good-sized housecoat, but he looks sinister, doesn't he!

He wasted no time diving into a tub of goldfish in his enclosure and eating the tasty parts.  (One of the children watching was grossed out because he only ate the body and spit out the head.)

There were other attractions as well.  A pair of Abyssinian Ground Hornbills were amusing themselves playing with a cardboard box.  

These birds have a distinctive casque on top of their heads that is a large, hollow cavity made of bone.  Scientists think the casque may help hornbills to determine the age, sex and species of other hornbills, and may also amplify their calls.

This Ring-tailed Lemur was looking for breakfast in a tree.

And a pond full of turtles took turns arranging themselves on a log.

We had a great time, and were only too happy to chill out with a glass of wine and watch the home-town team, the Washington Nationals,  beat the Florida Marlinsi.

1 comment:

  1. All shots are great. Love the zoo photos and my cats.