Cammy Visits: The Turtle Back Zoo

(September 7, 2021)

Animals are pretty cool. I know sometimes they're not run the best, but I have some pretty fond memories of the (sadly not very many) zoos and aquariums I've been to in my life. (It might be in a shithole, but the Camden Aquarium was such a vibe when I got to go there on a school trip—and I know there's some others hanging around where the other Somnolians live, waiting for a Crossover Episode of their own...)

Back in 2021, I got to visit the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, New Jersey. I don't talk to the person I went with anymore, but it was still a fun and busy day out, filled with big cats, too many flamingos, penguins, fishies, ...barn animals, and one incredibly autistic otter. Let's review the best of the shots I got.

African Adventure

The first section of the zoo we hit up was the African Adventure, this simulated little savanna filled with hyenas, ostriches, giraffes, and bontebonks! They decided to graze right in view of a parking garage too, which was an amusing juxtaposition.

A few bontebonks interacting with some giraffes behind them A bontebonk grazing in front of another part of the zoo and a parking garage Some hyenas at rest Two ostriches and another two giraffes in the back

Big cats (and a dog)

There were big cats all over, especially in the Asia section. I was really hoping to see some snow leopards, but sadly, they were sleeping in. The other cats ranged from sleepy to being annoyed by the little kids (and that was just frustrating to watch, so we went elsewhere).

A cougar at rest A leopard on his back legs doing a stretch with a fence A mountain lion at rest One of the kitties being annoyed by children

One of the most curious exhibits was the Animal Ambassadors exhibit, on its own stretch of land roughly in the middle of the zoo. This one was home to a cheetah named Nandi and an adorable golden lab named Bowie. Apparently, for orphaned kittens, domestic puppies make fantastic surrogate siblings. Nandi had darted off before we could get a picture of her, but Bowie wasn't in any rush, so we were able to get one of him.

Bowie the retriever wondering where Nandi darted off to

The most fearsome exhibit.

Lordy, birds!

One of the first stops we made after getting out of the African Adventure was the Penguin House, which dips deep underwater in a neat spiral and lets you catch the penguins diving and swimming around from all angles. We got to catch some other exotic birds roaming free, peacocks and peahens—oh yeah, and all those flamingos. A gigantic army of flamingos.

A pond filled with flamingos Peacocks wandering their exhibit A peacock wandering loose behind a statue Peahens through glass
A group of penguins on land outside the Penguin House A penguin divebombing through the water

Water, water everywhere

The zoo was set up with giant windows in all the underwater exhibits to let you see into the water from lower ground. Of course, the Penguin House was one of them, but we also got looks at river otters and seals in two separate exhibits. The members of both species seemed to be in a bit of a groove; one of the otters was stuck doing flips for two minutes maybe, and the seal was busy doing laps underwater, which gave me a few chances to get pictures of him.

(Your pick of 2004vision or the full quality clip on YouTube for the otter doing flips; seriously, he was at it for a while.)

An otter darting through the water A seal dashing around underwater A seal looking majestic on land That same seal dashing in the other direction

Barn animals, that's what was missing from this zoo

I'm gonna be honest, barn animals are not what I'd expect to see at a zoo, but they sure had their own exhibit! I wish I was able to get more photos of some of the local birds (which also had their own exhibit), but they were pretty well shaded and my camera (I was testing out my phone's camera for the first time) wasn't having it. Shoutout to Caby for helping me identify what I thought was a cow as what it actually was—a donkey.

Two boards snuffling around Various chickens wandering and drinking A donkey peeking out of his pen's door A goat wandering his pen
Llamas out on the gravel outside the pens Some kind of ram in a pen

A category for nothing in particular

Most of the rest of the day's photos were taken in no particular exhibit, so they get their own section. Included: some monkeys that had what looked to be construction scaffolding all to themselves (if I could've gotten a better angle on that one lad, it'd be album cover worthy), an unfortunately not great shot of an american alligator, though you get to see his scales real up close and personal at least, and some wallabies! Underrated creatures.

A not-very-good close-up of an alligator Some monkies enjoying time on their scaffolding Some wallabies interacting A wallaby laying around

What would you call this, zoo art?

Wrapping this up, I got a few shots of some very odd art installations scattered about the zoo grounds. Some of them made sense, like the turtles and turtle shells. Others, like the sunflowers that sprayed water or the random Buddha head on a pedestal in the middle of a rest area? Slightly less so.

A buddha head statue in a rest area An eagle statue on top of a rock A sunflower that rains mist on the passersby A big turtle statue in another rest area