Thursday, January 3, 2013

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

The next morning I rose early and was the first visitor for the day to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. The docents were very friendly and I had many good conversations with most of them. After a while they began looking for me to point out birds in the area.

Here is the published description of the Museum and I must say it is all true.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a world-renowned zoo, natural history museum and botanical garden, all in one place! Exhibits re-create the natural landscape of the Sonoran Desert Region so realistically you find yourself eye-to-eye with mountain lions, prairie dogs, Gila monsters, and more. Within the Museum grounds, you will see more than 300 animal species and 1,200 kinds of plants. There are almost 2 miles of paths traversing 21 acres of beautiful desert.

It would be impossible to talk about each species that I found within the zoo so I will just show a few with their names. Most of them can be found in the more remote surrounding area. The first part of the zoo I entered was the Reptile House where I saw lots of rattle snakes. I really didn’t realize there were so many types.

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

The rattle is hollow, dry, and is made of keratin. Below is a mock up of one on display. You wouldn’t be able to shake it fast enough to imitate a real rattle because the snake vibrates it so fast it becomes a blur but the sound in unforgettable. Every time they shed their skin a segment is added.

Arizona Black Rattlesnake

Sonoran Desert Sidewinder
Arizona Mountain Kingsnake

Galia Monster
I expected this to  be more colorful but I think this is the pink version.
Sonoran Tiger Salamander is listed as endangered.

I then strolled on down to the mammals where I first saw the Mountain Lion. I was the only one around and it was definately watching me.

I came back by this enclosure later and almost couldn’t find it because its sandy color really does blend into the surroundings.
Mexican Wolves (above) were once found throughout the mountain regions of Southern Arizona and Mexico’s central plateau. Today fewer than 50 Mexican wolves remain in the wild because they have been hunted so much. I first saw some in the National Zoo in DC.

Black-tailed Prairie Dogs. The last Arizona sighting of this species was in the 1930’s. This one is on watch.

Desert Bighorn Sheep. This one clearly has a sense of humor. I stuck my tongue out right back at him.

Hog-nosed Skunk

Bobcat…it looks just like a kitten doesn’t it.

Coti, which was very hard to photograph because they were constantly on the move and much bigger than I expected.

The mission of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is to inspire people to live in harmony with the natural world by fostering love, appreciation, and understanding of the Sonoran Desert.

Mission accomplished!

1 comment:

Potomac Valley Nature Writing Group Reading List said...

The mountain lion takes my breath away--exquisite.
this place must be incredible.
I hope I can get there someday.