Posted by: justnaturallyme | May 8, 2009

Latest Travels

I’m just finishing up on my latest book, Wild About Florida: North Florida. The last bit of traveling I did on this one was very unique.  One episode in particular reminds me of how like us the animals are.  Life and death is part of their cycle also.  One zoo I visited had a brand new addition to its family. Another lost one of its treasured family.

Harry, the brand new jaguar cub at jacksonville Zoo

Harry, the brand new jaguar cub at Jacksonville Zoo

New Years day 2009 was a very special day at the Jacksonville Zoo. Their four and a half year-old female jaguar named Zassi gave birth to a very special cub, the first jaguar cub born in the zoo since 1981. On April 13, 2009 mother and cub were released into the Range of the Jaguar. Martin and I were as excited as proud relatives going to visit a new baby for the first time.

Their award winning Range of the Jaguar now has the most jaguars of any zoo in the country.

Of course the jaguars are not the only thing that makes this zoo special. The zoo consists of spacious exhibits where animals enjoy a life in conditions that closely replicate their native habitats.

On the other side of the scale. I visited a great little zoo in Panama City Beach, Zoo World Zoological and Botanical Park. Here the other side of the coin comes into play. I was quite intrigued to see a orangutan and a yellow tabby cat sharing a cage and asked about the story. Here is what I was told:

Tonda and TK (Credit Zoo World)

Tonda and TK (Credit Zoo World)

“Tonda lost her life mate a couple of years ago. Since her loss, much like any human would react; she lost her zeal for life. She would spend her days lying on her island home with her head down and covered with her security blanket. The keeper staff tried to keep her entertained by providing her with a variety of toys which she would lose interest in quickly if she paid attention to them at all. Because Tonda is beyond child bearing age, it has been impossible to find a mate for her. After an extensive search for a new companion to no avail and her condition was not getting any better. Tonda’s keepers had to come up with some way to elevate Tonda’s zest for life. Enter T. K., Tonda’s kitty, the cat you saw. T.K. has the sweetest personality and the keepers quickly realized he would be compatible with Tonda. As the introduction process began, Tonda’s attitude completely changed. She is now alert and active; there is a new light in her eyes. A match made in Heaven, Tonda has found a new reason for living and T. K. is getting all the attention he loves and richly deserves. Tonda and T. K. now spend all their sleeping and waking time together.”

I was saddened to learn Tonda
died on March 20, 2009, just a few days after I visited Zoo World, but feel I was privileged to witness such a beautiful friendship.

More about both zoos and so much else can be found in Wild About Florida: North Florida which will be out by the end of May 2009.


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