2020-12-06 Wild Ducks at the Albuquerque Zoo

Wood Duck - Aix sponsa
Jerry and I spent a few hours at the Albuquerque Zoo, where I’ve always enjoyed their Duck Pond and the wild ducks that congregate there.

Not everything you find at the zoo is captive. At least that has been my experience at several zoos I’m familiar with. As an example, the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park, now called San Diego Zoo Safari Park, has created an ideal habitat for nesting egrets and Ibis and makes a great place to photograph those species during the breeding season. Albuquerque has a zoo as part of its BioPark, and within that zoo there is a duck pond I’ve enjoyed over the years, capturing images of wild ducks.

I have mixed feelings about photographing captive animals in zoo collections. On the one hand, we might never see these species in their natural habitat. The zoo provides an opportunity to capture an image of a beautiful creature, caged though they may be. I just don’t get the sense of satisfaction that comes from meeting the creature on its own turf, breathing the air and enjoying the habitat that god intended. I don’t want to get all preachy about zoos. Not everyone feels as I do. Not everyone is able-bodied or free to explore as I am (for now). It concerns me that much of society might feel captive animals in collections are sufficient, and that they won’t appreciate the losses of habitat that our expanding population is causing.

Steller's Sea Eagle - Haliaeetus pelagicus

Last Sunday Jerry and I took a city van equipped for wheelchair access to the ABQ-BioPark Zoo and made a bee-line to the duck pond. During past visits, I’ve met quite a variety of diving and dabbling ducks there, including Ring-Necked, Ruddy and Mandarin Ducks. Wood Ducks seem to be ever present at the pond. These flamboyant birds are always fun to photograph. This day was no exception. We indulged ourselves on duck images, but there was still time left before catching our ride home. The temptation to take pictures of nearby animals on display was more than we could resist. By the end of the day we had captured images of American Wigeons, Canada Geese, American (Caribbean) Flamingos, a Golden Eagle, Mallards, Mexican Gray Wolves, a Steller’s Sea Eagle, and Wood Ducks.

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