Revisiting the Moscow Zoo

I haven't been to the Moscow Zoo in ages and was happy to find many changes for the better. Their collection was diversified, many enclosures were greatly improved, the territory on the whole is developing. That's great. One of these days I really should sit down and write more about zoos and zoo photography, but right now I will just run through the highlights of my latest visit.

One of the new animals that drew my attention was the Bush Dog. It's a funny-looking little critter from Latin America, one of the most peculiar Canines out there. And yes, it is a Canine, though very oddly shaped. Well, it's not that weird if you compare it to some of the designer breeds, but it is for a wild animal. It's kind of a cross between an old teddy bear, a piglet and a mongoose. I don't know about the wild, but in the zoo enclosure the beastie looked like a busy little eternal engine.

The Yellow-throated Marten was another pleasant surprise. This animal has captivated my imagination ever since I was a little girl flipping through the pages of the wonderful "Animal Life" book series. I remember this Marten occupying the center of an illustration to the chapter on the Mustelidae family. That picture stayed in my mind for years. I still dream of photographing this animal in the wild, but for now I had to settle for a Zoo encounter. Another perpetuum mobile, but a strikingly handsome animal. Unfortunately, the Marten's enclosure is very dark and the use of flash is prohibited. Oh, well. Gotta take what you can.

Here's a charismatic relative of the Marten and an animal I also greatly love and respect and have on my "Shoot in the wild" list. The Wolverine. It has a relatively small enclosure with several levels and a glass wall. The Wolverine is constantly preoccupied with something. In the short time I observed it, the animal ran circles with a giant piece of meat, submerged itself up to the eyes in its water fountain, sied on its keepers and climbed all over the place at neck-braking speed.

The pen where they used to hold raccoons now contains the Banded Mongoose. I sinceerely hope that people do not throw them food like they did to the raccoons. Animals at the Moscow Zooo are obviously not malnourished and there is no need to destroy their health for the sake of selfish amusement.

And, of course, cats. it wouldn't be me without cats. The Eurasian Lynx has a litter of cubs and even though their pen is extremely unsuitable for photographing the kitteens' rough-housing, you can still get a sweet portrait.

Naturally, the main event right now are the pandas. Can't say I'm a huge fan of these animals. They do have a number of interesting qualities, but when it comes to observation and photography they just don't get me hooked. I much prefer the red pandas. My feelings towards bears overall are ambiguous, but it's just a matter of personal preferences. This time around the pandas did not wow the crowd with adorable anticks, but just stuffed their bellies with bamboo and pretty quickly fell asleep.

The only animal I did not get to cross off my list this time were the Fenec foxes. They have a lovely enclosure but for some reason the animals were kept inside the housing area. Still, the visit was a pleasant and successful one. I am truly happy to see the development the Zoo is undertaking. I hope it continues to improve and introduce its visitors to more wonderous and beautiful creatures. And give a bored photographer a nice chance to take the camera out for a spin.