This past Thursday, November 24, I was lucky enough to get to spend a glorious, warm (70 degrees Fahrenheit in Colorado Springs proper) day at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. It made me realize how thankful I am for my fiancée, Heidi Genter, who works as an animal keeper there, and for the many natural wonders the world has to offer us.
I found it ironic that the zoo’s flock of wild turkeys roamed about their yard carefree on a day we celebrate by feasting on their domesticated brethren. They are really quite magnificent birds and it is exciting to encounter them in the wild. Benjamin Franklin, had he gotten his way, would have made them the National Bird, in fact.
The zoo has a magnificent moose exhibit, complete with a “lake” that the resident bull seems to truly enjoy. One appears to need faith that the animal can’t clear the low railing on the near side of the pond. I had to stand back to get this image!
I was also treated to a close view of an American Lynx that was gnawing on a treat provided by its keepers. It is unlikely that your average person will ever see one of these amazing cats in their natural habitat, so zoos are just about the only place you can glimpse one. Indeed, one regular zoo visitor exclaimed that you “never see that guy down this close (in its enclosure).”
The warm temperatures even brought out a few insects, including this Western Paper Wasp, Mischocyttarus flavitarsis, prowling among pine needles for any last bit of honeydew from the now dormant conifer aphids.
Even some flowers were blooming. A lone rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus or Ericameria) had fresh blossoms, much later in the season than normal, but Witch Hazel regularly blooms in the late autumn or early winter.
Here’s hoping that the remaining holidays allow you time to enjoy the great outdoors and discover your own hidden treasures and favorite (wild) things.