The last time we visited our aunt and uncle in Minnesota, we were mesmerized by the black and albino squirrels skittering around the backyard. Two years later, the yard still had a good population of squirrels, but the black ones were gone and just one albino remained.
There’s a surprising amount of literature devoted to coat color in gray squirrels. Black is apparently one of three color variants found in gray squirrels. As in other animals, albinism is rare, however, according to one article, albinism in squirrels can run in colonies. I remember one such colony in Verona Park, Verona, N.J., during the 1980s.
This web in the grass captured more than prey this morning. Suspended in its threads were droplets from sprinkler, each catching the filtered morning light and each acting as lens and window into a world closer to the ground.
What to do on a hot, bright June day in the Land of 10,000 Lakes? Go to the Minnesota Zoo! What better idea than to see exotic animals in a natural setting while enjoying a beautiful day away from the blue glow of the computer screen and the hubbub of the office. It was vacation, after all.
The zoo was all excitement. Dozens of school buses and minvans were wedged into the parking lot. Families with strollers and adults with “chaperone” tags were clamoring for tickets. Once inside, one could hear see the boundless energy of thousands of elementary school children in their last week of school unleashed in the zoo’s broad walkways.
Weaving our way through the maze of youthful zoologists, we were privileged to hear some of their observations, including: “It smells like poop here” and, after glancing at the tortoises, “Are those real?”
This brought back youthful memories of school visits to the Bronx Zoo and watching many and sundry creatures doing what came naturally: grazing, grooming, walking, swinging, flitting, et cetera.
Well, on a hot, bright June day, what we saw at the Minnesota Zoo was a lot of ZZZzzzzzzzz-ing.
The desert tortoise on the left was quite keen on following the tortoise on the right. Everywhere. If the two weren’t already, it sure seemed as if somebody wanted to be friends. These two made the rounds in their sandy home at the Minnesota Zoo.