NOTE: I was trying to drive AND take pictures with my iPhone through the car window (you have to keep the windows rolled up) so try not to judge the photo quality too harshly - I was unable to employ any of my new photography skills and just had to hope for the best LOL.
Can you spot the baby deer in this photo? I barely saw it from the car and we were actually closer than the photo makes it appear.
This deer is easier to spot. Most of them were white-tailed deer that we saw, but they did have other kinds as well.
This elk was at the feeding station right at the side of the road...in fact you can see my car's side mirror in the lower left corner to see how close we were to it.
There's a bit of window reflection on this shot (did I mention driving and photo'ing through the windows simultaneously?) but this guy has such an impressive rack of horns that I had to include the photo.
That's not only a bison (aka buffalo)...it's a white bison. According to the narration device the park provides for your drive, these animals were considered sacred by Native Americans.
So imagine my surprise when it turned out they had a whole group of them!
Here's a more close-up shot of one of the larger ones. They did have some of the normal brown bison as well, but they didn't pose as obligingly as the white ones did.
The wolves were tough...they were all snoozing and up against a fence in the shade. This was my best shot and I think it's only visible because it's the white wolf. The rest of the wolves were gray or brown and so blended in more.
But, okay, I hear you saying, this place is called Bearizona. Where are the bears?
Here is where things got totally fascinating. We stopped in the bear area for quite some time (fortunately, it was not crowded and no one was behind us so I could stop the car to watch for more than a few minutes) We could not stop watching these bears play "King of the Mountain" in this tree.
In this photo, there are two bears in the tree and one on the ground trying to climb up. Eventually, he got up there and a 4th bear started trying to climb up, too.
This guy came right over by the car and posed ever so nicely for me before going back to the "climb the tree" game.
In what was probably my favorite moment, we watched this larger, older bear spend several minutes trying to tip this metal trough over. After shoving it repeatedly from the outside and failing to turn it over, he gave up and climbed in for a relaxing soak.
This was not the end of the fun at Bearizona. Once you finish the drive-through portion, there's a small zoo to walk through.
More bears - these are younger, smaller cubs. It was Easter Sunday so they had been given a number of these plastic eggs stuff with some sort of bear-licious treat and they were all busy trying to get the eggs open. Check out the claws - even on this youngster!
And, cutest of all, three TINY bear cubs all snoozing together in this basket. This was inside a cave-like habitat that was like an old mine shaft so I had a hard time getting a decent photo. Still, SO CUTE!
Bobcat - there were two of them and they were out walking around in full view.
A pair of river otters put on a full, rambunctious display for us. They were chasing each other all over the enclosure and then diving in and swimming around. This guy is doing the backstroke.
Which I guess makes this the frontstroke :-)
Skunk - pretty self-explanatory.
We ended the day at their raptor show - gorgeous birds!
I believe they said this was a Eurasian Eagle Owl.
This was a gorgeous falcon, but I am drawing a blank on what type it is. They had it fly back and forth right over our heads - you could feel the air from its wings it was so close.
At the end of the show, Ryan got to pose with this Harris Hawk.
This was really an amazing experience - I love zoos, but this was a step beyond that because of how close we were able to get to the animals and how active they all were. So many of these animals are usually hiding away in burrows or shelters or taking a mid-day siesta when I've tried to see them at other zoos. Plus, as much as I'd hoped to have some wildlife encounters when we got to the Grand Canyon, the weather did not really cooperate - it was horribly windy the entire time with gusts between 20-50 miles an hour. So, if we had not stopped at Bearizona, we would have been pretty much shut out of seeing any animals.
If you are passing through that area, I highly recommend this place. It's small enough that you can definitely do it and still keep to your driving schedule and it was not very expensive at all.
Next post...get ready for a great big hole in the ground :-)