North Carolina Zoo

Steven and I wanted something to do on our day off, so I hatched an idea to shoot some photos. So, I figured a great place to shoot where the animals won't run away while you try to shoot some photos of them. TheNorth Carolina Zoo inAsheboro with over 1,600 animalswas a perfect place. The zoo opened up at 9 AM, so we were on the road at 7:30 to give ourselves a little time for any traffic.Since itwasThursday, we thoughtthere would be hardly anyone there. We were happy to see when we arrived onlyone other person was there. Let me say, by the end of the day, there were TONS of people, and most of them were under 3.5' tall, by the hundreds.

We hopped on the tram once we were through the gate and proceeded to the other end began our adventure in Africa exhibits. The big animals will usually be out in the morning until it gets really cold. Our first stop was to see the rhinos. It was feeding time when we got there. So they were right by the retaining wall area, so we had a perfect view looking down on them. I wish they did that for all the animals. It is a perfect viewpoint to shoot photos without obstructions.

We also got to see the giraffes for a few seconds until one of the trams released an army of screaming kids. I told Steven we better move on quickly and stay ahead of the rambunctious noisy munchkins. We headed on down to the monkeys and gorilla area and got to see some of them and their crazy antics. The lemurs took on an interesting pose...sitting on their butts with arms wide open sunning themselves. It was funny to watch them. All I could think about was that silly cartoon with King Julian and the Penguins.

After the monkeys we heard the roar of munchkins hot on our heels. I told Steve, "We've got to move it... I hear the horde coming again." So we headed to the RJ Reynolds Forest Aviary.

Outside the RJ Reynolds Forest Aviary, we found the Chilean Flamingos. I knew we would be here awhile since I love shooting bird photos. The Chilean Flamingos did not disappoint one bit. They are some of the best photos I got out of the whole adventure. Steven and I shot hundreds of photos between us just on these birds. I could have stayed there half a day and loved every minute of it. Soon the pounding of excited little feet were upon us before you could count to 10. There under our feet and my mono-pod were munchkins as far as the eye could see. Scary they kids yells out to another, "Hey look over here...big chickens." I chuckled and told the boy, "These aren't chickens, son. They are flamingos."

We moved inside the RJ Reynolds Forest Aviary and saw birds in trees flying everywhere. As prepared to grab a shot, my view finder showed a fog of immense proportions on my lens. The 30 degree temperature change and triple humidity inside the RJ Reynolds Forest Aviary slowed us down a bit. But after wiping my lens off 20 times, the lens finally warmed up to the same temp it was inside. I could finally shoot with out distractions.

Steven got a good shot of a Blue-grey Tanager right away. We strolled around just marveling at all the birds and plants inside the forest aviary. One of the weirdest plants I noticed was something I have not seen before, or at least didn't know I have seen it. We marveled at the crazy colors on it and figured it was some exotic plant, only to discover it was a common banana plant. I have never seen a banana heart (banana blossom) up close. It was very neat looking, and Steven got a nice photo of it. In the middle of the forest aviary, Steven got some great shots of two Mandarin ducks, stretching in perfect unison, but it looked like they were synchronizing ice skating.

Next, we visited to the Sonora Desert exhibit. We got to see some amazing things there like a Blue-tongued Skink, a huge lizard. This place was starting to get packed, so we headed on our way. We finally got to the big animals again on the North American side. We saved these until last hoping for some good light to capture these enormous creatures. Much to our disappointment, the polar bears were MIA. We looked everywhere, and we couldn't find them. We caught a seal show at feeding time. We shot lots of photos of the seals and stayed awhile and learned a thing or two about seals.

We returned to the polar bear exhibit to see if they had come out and sure enough they had one out. Unfortunately, the lone polar bear was in a state of panic looking for his buddy and kept pacing back and forth between the two doors trying to find it. This bear did not like being alone. I grabbed a few photos of the polar bear before it was time to head out. Steven and I had done the full day at the zoo and had a blast. If you like to shoot photos, this is a great place to do it. We hope to go back again and do it all over. When you get back, you always think of new ways to get the perfect photo.