Today, the girls & I met our friends, Dawn & Michael Mosser, out at the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley. We were so excited to go, because they have a new exhibit…the Penguins of Africa. This confused me a bit because I thought penguins only liked cold weather. Having a teaching background, I did some research. Here’s what I found out:
The African Penguin is found on the south-western coast of Africa, living in colonies on 24 islands between Namibia and Algoa Bay, near Port Elizabeth, South Africa. It is also known as the Jackass Penguin for its donkey-like bray, although several species of South Americanpenguins produce the same sound. It is the only penguin species that breeds in Africa and its presence gave name to the Penguin Islands.
African Penguins grow to 68–70 cm (26.7–27.5 in) tall and weigh between 2 and 5 kg (4.4 and 11 lb). They have a black stripe and black spots on the chest, the pattern of spots being unique for every penguin, like human fingerprints. They have pink glands above their eyes. The hotter the penguin gets, the more blood is sent to these glands so it may be cooled by the surrounding air, thus making the glands more pink. The males are larger than the females and have larger beaks, but their beaks are more pointed than those of the Humboldt. Their distinctive black and white colouring is a vital form of camouflage–white for underwater predators looking upwards and black for predators looking down onto the dark water.
These little guys can swim so fast. It was very difficult, with my camera, to get a good shot. We happened to be there just in time to watch them be fed. They seemed to really enjoy the small fish, but when they tried to feed them squid, they would reach out, touch the squid with their beaks and then shake their heads as if saying, “ick, what’s that?” The trainers couldn’t get them to eat any of it and ended up getting the nets out and scooping up the squid on the bottom. Picky eaters, I guess. It was very funny to watch.
We moved on to the Wells Fargo Farm to go see the goats, chickens, pigs & cows. We rode on the tractor-pulled wagon out to the farm because it was a bit hot to walk that far. The guide told us that there is a cow out there that weighs 3,000 pounds! What a huge animal that thing is. She also said that it’s the largest animal at the zoo. I should’ve taken a picture of him.
One of our favorite animals at the zoo are the goats. They keep us laughing and giggling every-time we visit them. They are so spontaneous, that we just never know what they might do. Today, they had brushes that you could use to brush their fur. Some of those goats thought they were at the spa. One of them just leaned into Kelly as she gently brushed his back. Another one attacked Dawn’s purse. We think he thought she had food in there.
Megan found a baby goat, I believe their called a “kid.” This little one was so cute. We just wanted to pick him up and pet him. He was loving all this attention. But the big, old “Billy Goat” wasn’t far away and keeping a close eye on these babies. You didn’t want to mess with him…or his cool “goatee.”
It was getting hot at the farm, so we decided to hop back on the wagon train and head back to the zoo for some ice cream and drinks. Scattered throughout the zoo, were Dr. Seuss statues. It’s a summer scavenger hunt that kids can do while hanging out & seeing the animals. We had fun taking pictures by them, rather than keeping track of what they were. See if you can name the characters and the books they were in. The answers are at the bottom of the pictures. Have fun!
What a great day. You’re never too old to go to the zoo!