Monday, June 16, 2014

Red Hatters Visit Alamogordo Zoo

Saturday, June 14, 2014

New Mexico Roadrunner Chapter of the Red Hat Society gathered at the Alamogordo Zoo on Saturday, June 14, 2014 to check out the new animals and zoo improvements. Six of us were tough enough to withstand the heat and certainly got our walking exercise done as well.

This zoo is the oldest in the Southwestern United States and many of their animals have been rescued and doctored due to various happenings in their lives.  If they can not be released back into the wild, they give them a permanent home at the zoo.

The water area where the Black Swans reside has plenty of greenery, a waterfall and a hidden area of brush with running water filtering through it. Even though it was a hot day, there was a breeze and plenty of shade available. We spied some turtles sunning themselves at the edge of the water.

We saw numerous birds including a red tailed hawk, two American Bald Eagles, Rheas, and African Crowned Cranes whose windpipes are over 5 feet long, half of which is coiled within their breastbones. This gives them the ability to call their mates with a powerful trombone-like call which can be heard for miles. They are monogamous and very social.

One of the more unusual critters is the Capybara, the largest living rodent attaining lengths of over 4 feet and weight exceeding 100 pounds. They walk on the bottom of lakes and rivers where they dine on aquatic vegetation and grasses. They are found in Central and South America.

There was also a beautiful mountain lion,  two brown bears of which the smaller one had just dunked himself in the water and smelled exactly like a wet dog, and some capuchin monkeys.

We were also fascinated by a pair of African Crested Porcupines. They are the largest and heaviest African rodents, reaching weights up to 45 pounds. Their upper bodies are covered by sharp quills up to a foot in length. When provoked by predators, they attack backwards causing wounds that are sometimes fatal. They are nocturnal and feed on bulbs, roots, bark and fruit. The long hair on their heads was beautiful and very white.

The Rheas from South America are interesting birds and are sometimes called South American Ostriches. They may reach heights of 5-1/2 feet and it is said that they look like ostriches which have shrunk in the wash and been fluffed in the dryer. Their feathers have been used in making feather dusters. In the spring, the male Rhea becomes very aggressive as he selects his "harem" of three to seven hens. He insists on incubating the clutch of a dozen or more 2-lb. eggs, laid by several females, in a single nest which he has dug.

The Markhor Goat is a very endangered species and is not a true goat but a goat antelope. They live in the medium to high elevation of the Asiatic Mountains. They eat herbs, grasses and bushes. The males use their horns like battering rams during mating season. Their fight is fierce, ending only when one is injured or too exhausted to continue. Females or nannies are highly competitive and intolerant of each other.

If I could fault anything, I would say they need to improve on the  "herpetarium."  The only thing we saw in that area was a green iguana.

We saw one Mexican Grey Wolf and he is a beautiful specimen but looked so lonely without a mate. Hope they can find someone for him to play with soon.

After the zoo, we went to the little train depot to ride the train, but it didn't open until Noon and it was 11:45 a.m. so we waited. We saw the men bring the train out from the shed and we went in to buy our tickets. The lady said they had to take the train on a test run and would be back in twenty minutes. No one wanted to wait another twenty minutes to ride the train so we left to go eat lunch.

We had lunch at Mrs. Lily's Restaurant where two other ladies joined us who either couldn't handle the heat or had earlier appointments so we had a group of eight after all.  As always we had great conversation and dining.  Among the ladies was a visitor, a friend of Dorothy Smith's, also named Dorothy who is contemplating becoming a Red Hatter.  She is a perfect fit, very friendly with a ready smile.

L to R: Dorothy, Alice and Lu ready for our Zoo Adventure
L to R: Darla, Dorothy E. and Queen Carla ready for our Zoo Adventure
Ring tailed Lemur from Madagascar
No wonder they've survived for thousands of years just lying there doing nothing
Not sure what kind of duck this is but he kept diving down under for food
This one just out of the water preening his feathers. Such pretty colors on him.
Black Swans from Australia (one napping). There are no white swans in Australia.
A shot of the new and improved water area where the swans and turtles play
This is a healthy turtle specimen, don't you think?
AND, here we have Dorothy S. and Dorothy E.
This is a fine looking Capybara lazing in the sun and shadows
Red tailed hawk, just hangin' around
One of a pair of American Bald Eagles
Such a beautiful mountain lion. The fence made for difficult photography!
The large brown bear. The smaller one wouldn't stand still long enough for a shot.
Not sure of the name of this bird, but he is sure colorful
One of the capuchin monkeys showing off
The fabulous African Crested Porcupine (one of a pair)
I believe this is an emu because he is much larger than the Rheas
This really is an African Crowned Crane. Unfortunately he didn't cooperate for his close up
This is an iguana, I think.
Talk about the "Lone Wolf". He is the "Lonely Wolf". Boohoo!
Left Side: Lu, Darla and Donna. Right side: Alice, Dorothy E., Dorothy S. and Lynne
Queen Carla between the two Dorothy's
We had such a grand time together and are looking forward to our next event where we will be watching the film "Dragonfly" in Lu's home and enjoying a potluck luncheon.

This is all I have to say for now.

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