Tag Archives: Birmingham Zoo – Birmingham

Red Fox

Red Fox

Zoo glass is well-designed for it’s primary purpose. It can keep big dangerous animals on one side and still allow big humans to gawk at them from the other side. It’ll scratch, but it’s not terrible. There’s a slight greenish cast to it, but most people don’t notice and photographers can easily correct for it (if they have full colour vision … those lucky bastards).

One problem with it, though, is that it’ll etch over time and get a bit cloudy. Also, since it’s rather thick, it’s harder to shoot at an angle without it really changing things on the sides of the image.

Sometimes, however, that works out OK.



I am not an expert in sign design, but I think this system used at the Birmingham Zoo is fantastic. Yes, the reality of an ecosystem is far more complex than a 3-2-1 approach allows, but since the average person in the US has been lied to all their lives and forced away from science education, it’s one of the most effective systems I’ve seen for reaching the masses.

African Wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica)

African Wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica)_7

Surprisingly, with all the zoos I’ve visited, this is the first African Wildcat I’ve seen. This is an interesting side effect of zoos working to save critically endangered species. The wildcat is rated “Least Concern”, so no one is working to actively breed it. I don’t know if this specific animal as a rescue, but if you want to see exotic non-rare species, rescue centers or zoos that work with law enforcement (working against the illegal pet trade) is the way to do it.

When you travel to different zoos, you really start to see many of the same species … those that are endangered but that can also probably be bred. The critically endangered animals that *might* be able to be bred are usually in breeding centers away from the public. Sadly, the critically endangered animals that cannot be bred, for whatever reason, are largely left to their own devices within a rapidly shrinking and worsening habitat.

So many of the animals I see are endangered, some are critically endangered, but the most critically endangered animals on the planet are ones that I will likely never be able to see. Still, I’m glad to see what I have been able to see.



With a very expensive tilt lens, I could have gotten the squirrel in perfect focus without having that distracting line of focus going down the slope. (Cost: $2,000)

Another approach would be to use a LensBaby Lens Composer, which isn’t as good as a tilt lens, but a lot cheaper (Cost: $300)

Alternatively, I could achieve a similar effect with a tilt/shift adapter or a bellows unit for an existing lens. (Cost: $100 – 200)

Yet another way to do it would be to use Photoshop and just blur that area out. (Cost: $30/mo)

However, there are free and “cloud” options like Photoshop Express, GIMP, and Pixlr. (Cost: $0 + the time to learn something new)

The option I chose, of course, is do nothing and spend the time I could have spent correcting the issue researching the costs of how to fix the problem, ’cause I’m all meta and stuff.

Red River Hog (Potamochoerus porcus)

Red River Hog (Potamochoerus porcus)_6

The red river hog is actually a red hog that likes rivers in Africa. It does not actually live on the Red River. Not that there’s one Red River. There are actually two, one up North near me and one way down South. Judging from Google Earth, neither of these rivers is actually red. Just in case the colours changed due to the pollution reduction efforts of the EPA, I checked the oldest photos I could, but apparently back then the rivers were sorta black and grey.

Anyway, here’s a completely unrelated pig.

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos ambiguus swainsonii)

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos ambiguus swainsonii)_4

Modern cameras have a surprisingly good autofocus system, but in low light, it doesn’t always work as you expect … especially in zoos.

To prevent it from “hunting” or moving back and forth quite irritatingly, focusing on the bird’s eye, then the background, then the fence in front, you can use a neat little trick. I have a flashlight with what’s called a “moonlight” mode. It gives just a little bit of light, not enough to bother the animal, but enough to let the autofocus lock on tight so when you take the photo, a momentary flash can fill the scene to capture the photo.

With proper selection, the light is much lower than a lightning flash and a heck of a lot better for the animal than being blinded by the LED on the back of people’s cell phones.

Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles)

Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles)_3

As this masked lapwing was going to St. Ives, he met a man with seven wives. Every wife had seven sacks, every sack had seven cats, every cat had seven kitts. Kitts, cats, sacks, wives, he asked how such a familial structure was economically sustainable.

One of the wives responded that they were cat breeders heading to St. Ives for the big kitty conference where they would sell their knowledge to other cat fanciers and find homes for the kittens. They could then use the money to help support their husband when he went back to school to train to become a nurse.

Thus was the lapwing educated about heteronormative assumptions.