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Giraffe feeding!

You know how I’ve been working on painting giraffe rocks? Well I got an awesome opportunity this weekend to see giraffes up close and personal. One of my best friends and I drove up to Seattle on Saturday and visited the Woodland Park Zoo. It was a gloriously warm, sunny day–or at least as sunny as Seattle gets, with that sort of light gauzy cloud layer–and everyone was hitting the streets to enjoy it. The zoo was, well, a zoo. And the most dangerous animals there were the small, two-legged sort that careened down the paths like loosed fireworks. Children are great. They’re so full of life, excitement, and curiosity. Boundless energy and noise. But take several hundred of them exhibiting such enthusiasm, and they become scary, dangerous little trajectories.

Anyhow, we discovered on the little brochure that everyone gets at the ticket booth that there was giraffe feeding between 2:30 and 3:30. We figured watching giraffes eat would be interesting, so we headed in that direction. We got lost down the windy paths a few times and I consulted the ambiguous zoo map over and over–as if opening it the thousandth time would somehow grant me more insight than it did 30 seconds ago–but we finally found the giraffes. Not only were the giraffes being fed–but anyone could feed them! So we got in line to feed them. It’s $5 per person, and you get two little twigs of leaves to feed the giraffes up on this cliff so that you’re at eye-level with them. There was one male and two females, though only one of the girls was really interested in us.

Photo of me feeding a giraffe

Me feeding the giraffe–see that twisty blue-gray tongue?

Our group got a few minutes with them while we took turns feeding her our twigs, then left for the next group. My camera isn’t the greatest for candid shots (it’s better for still things), but it works.

Besides getting to see some pretty amazing creatures that I wouldn’t normally get to see, one of the things I love about the zoo is the opportunity to gain reference material for art. It helps to have a good camera, though, and it’s a little tough without flash and through glass. I try not to use flash so I don’t wear the animals out with all the flickering lights. But even with out the flash, the camera still captures poses, such as this ocelot pose, which I think is adorable.

Fuzzy Ocelot photo

Though fuzzy, with enough imagination and cross-reference material, I can totally use this pose for a painting.

Sometimes, the pictures come out pretty good on their own, such as this wolf dozing in the shade.

White wolf dozing in the shade

The picture is cropped, since my camera doesn’t zoom far enough for some of the zoo enclosures. Also, I liked the wider frame.

Some shots can also be used for my digital art, such as this python’s scales and pattern. That snake was huge. At least 12″ wide in some places. Photos never do size justice.

Python photo

The scales and pattern of this python can be used for creatures in my digital art–much like the patterns of the creature in my blog banner were taken from photos of real animals.

Most of the animals were sleeping or just resting out of sight. It was a nice, warm afternoon, and with all the people I can imagine the animals needing a break. I’m glad they have places to find refuge, but it means we didn’t get to see a lot of the animals. Also, a lot of my favorites are more active during the morning and evening hours anyways, which unfortunately is during closed hours. However, one of my favorite viewings was the jaguars, who were chilling in a cave near the windows on heated rock.


The big one in the front was the boy, with the girl in the back. So beautiful. Also, getting to the front to take good pictures took a little while. Thus the lovely elbow and the fuzzy blue thing on the left.

As we were checking out in the gift shop getting our obligatory souvenirs, the lady at the cash register told us that three snow leopard cubs were born a couple weeks ago. Squee! Snow leopards are my favorite animals, and I was very disappointed last year when I learned that I had missed the previous litter. I will definitely be back later this summer to visit the cubs.

I’m so excited!

God Bless,