Come See Asia and Australia (at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo)

While the vast and varied African continent is home to myriad fascinating animals, Australia has its own charismatic fauna and a small selection can be encountered in the Australia Walkabout at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Imagine the otherworldly music of the didgeridoo as you amble through an enclosure where red-necked wallabies hop around freely and enchant with their sweet demeanor and faces. Representatives of the captivating marsupials, an infraclass of mammals, their young are born prematurely and develop while attached to their mother’s nipples, usually but not always inside an abdominal pouch. They remain “firmly attached to the milk-giving teats for a period corresponding roughly to the latter part of development of the fetus in the womb of a placental mammal” (according to an article on brittanica.com). As it happens, one of the females, Gidgee, has been pregnant since March 2021 with her joey (don’t you just love this name?) and I look forward to seeing it once it emerges.

The didgeridoo’s insistent song is exceeded only by the voluminous voices of 100-plus garrulous budgies inside an aviary they share with cockatiels and a princess parrot. The good mood they engender notwithstanding, the decibel level in that confined space can only be tolerated for short periods of time.

From Australia one is transported to the Asian Highlands and some of the world’s elusive felines. Two Pallas’ cats are not particularly camera-shy but seem to wear a curmudgeonly expression even when they are sleeping, They live next door to one gorgeous snow and two Amur leopards. Sadly, fewer than 100 of the latter survive in the wild, making them critically endangered, and the zoo hopes to breed them as parts of the Species Survival Plan (SSP).

I wonder how much trepidation exists about that plan in light of two heart-rending calamities that befell another iconic species at the zoo, the Amur tiger. It is estimated that fewer than 500 individuals of the endangered species survive in the wild (107 live in captivity in accredited zoos). In 2016, a female was killed by her mate during a breeding attempt, a shocking, unpredictable act also known to happen in the wild, but not anticipated in this setting, based on the pair’s previous interactions. The attempted in-vitro fertilization of another female Amur tiger earlier in 2021, done to prevent a repeat of the previous scenario, also ended in the prospective mother’s death from unclear medical reasons. The dismay and sadness that gripped everybody involved in trying to positively influence the fate of these tigers linger. Now the male, Chewy, is alone in his Himalayan-style habitat and watching him stride gracefully yet powerfully up hills, among trees, and across a creek is an experience not soon forgotten. With the zoo keepers, the veterinary staff, and all other people who care, we hope the Amur leopards and tigers will not fall off the precipice from which there is no return.

Besides local conservation efforts, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo supports numerous others. In addition to administering breeding programs, supporting research, and performing education, the zoo’s “Quarters for Conservation” initiative has raised $3 million since its implementation in 2008. At every visit, guests are given 3 tokens, each worth 25 cents, which can be allocated to one of several conservation projects including but not limited to Wyoming toads, black-footed ferrets, Panamanian frogs, African vultures, and African elephants and rhinos.

All threatened or endangered plant and animal species on earth will only have a future if we human animals finally decide that every living being deserves our full consideration, love, and support.

To enlarge a photo, click on it. To read its caption, hover the cursor over it.

To read my first post about the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, click here.

To read my second post about the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, click here.

21 thoughts on “Come See Asia and Australia (at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo)

    • Es freut mich, daß sie Dir gefallen haben, liebe Brigitte. Ich bin Dir dankbar, daß Deine vielen Zoobesuche und -berichte mich motiviert haben, über unseren Zoo hier zu berichten, denn ich habe auch viel dabei gelernt. Und die Tiere selbst zu beobachten macht immer wieder Freude. Ich muß demnächst wieder hin um zu sehen, ob das Wallaby Junge ab und zu mal aus seinem Beutel rausschaut. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  1. It seems no one really knows where joey came from: https://www.etymonline.com/word/joey

    The sign in your opening picture reminded me of an excellent exhibit of Aboriginal paintings here in Austin three years ago: https://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/2018/08/03/two-insights/

    I see that in that same post I cited a scientific study showing that “Third-graders who spend a class session in a natural outdoor setting are more engaged and less distracted in their regular classroom afterward than when they remain indoors.” I think you’ll wholeheartedly concur.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the link, Steve. I think it’s fine to keep wondering about some words’ etymology.

      And I’m not at all surprised about the results of the study. Only wish all children had the opportunity to spend more meaningful time in outdoor settings, both for their own well-being, but also it would engender an appreciation for nature and a desire to care for and protect it.

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  2. What a sad story and a tragic ending for these two Amur Tigers. I hope that a matching female will be found for Chewy and that futur attempts to get the female pregnant will be successful!
    Thank you for your interesting description and the amazing pictures!
    Kindest regards,
    Christa

    Liked by 2 people

    • It is very sad, Christa, and I think everybody involved in these breeding efforts was deeply affected by the deaths. As I mentioned to Mr. P, I think breeding plans might go on hiatus for a while, but I don’t know that for a fact.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I feel for poor, lonely Chewie. We supported a rare tiger in Cambodia until he died a couple of years ago of old age – then we got another one from India. Jasper lived in a small reserve, with another tiger, looked after by a village of Cambodian people. They went out of their way to protect him from poachers.
    Pallas cats do have strange little grumpy faces but I love them!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think after two deaths of female Amur tigers, it might take a while for the zoo to try again for offspring. There has been no official statement to that effect, but I imagine the powers that be will do some serious soul-searching. I think everybody involved was devastated.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Terribly sad about the tigers. It must be so hard on the staff, and Chewy, of course.
    On an upbeat note, I love your walkabout pic and would LOVE to hang out with wallabies! I had a didgeridoo in my classroom that a friend brought back for me from Australia. I found it very hard to play, but it certainly lent color to our Australian studies. Your post brought back fond memories of teaching my students “Waltzing Maltilda”, and creating faux Aboriginal dot paintings. Koalas rule! Thanks for posting.
    Julie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, very sad about the tigers, Julie. The wallabies are much fun to hang around. A sweet-looking Matschie’s tree kangaroo is also at the exhibit, but it’s in an enclosure and I didn’t get good photos. No koalas at the local zoo, but I can relate to your “enamorment.”

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve never heard of the Pallas cats; the expression on those faces is priceless. I was surprised to see the cockatiels. It makes sense that they would be there, since they’re native to Australia, but one named Nikki shared my home for a time, and it was an experience. He loved to sit on the curtain rod and preen when someone was taking a shower, and he was given to spreading his wings as far out as possible while announcing, “I’m an eagle! I’m an eagle!” He met an unfortunate end, but he had a good, long — and very happy — life.

    Liked by 2 people

    • We always enjoy trying to interpret the Pallas’ cats mood, as their facial expressions seem to indicate a perpetual frown.
      And I know that cockatiel are beloved by many pet owners. I’m glad yours had a long and happy life.

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  6. Thanks Tanja, for letting me tag along on your guided tour through the wildlife of three continents at the Cheyenne Zoo. So impressed by the hard and important work these devoted staff do to preserve endangered species. Fingers crossed for a happy outcome for Chewy. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. […] While the list of topics a majority of people can agree on seems to be forever-shrinking, I think most of us will acknowledge that we are enamored of baby animals. When my husband and I finally returned to our local Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in May 2021, after a two- or three-year hiatus, I was inspired to share some of my impressions with you: Welcome to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Visit Africa at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and Come See Asia and Australia at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. […]

    Like

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