In early June I travelled to South Australia to visit the Victor Harbor Penguin Centre and take my second batch of little penguin pics for them. Assisted by Erin and Debora, the penguin photo session was a great success – We even managed to get a few quick shots in “studio” style too! The pics will be used by the centre on their website and marketing material, and will hopefully attribute to some additional funds.
The centre is operated by volunteers, and is not for profit. It relies 100% on visitor entry fee’s and donations – so we thought it only fitting to part with a $200 donation to go towards vet care and food. Although the rescued penguins are in care, they are still wild animals. The highlight for me was attracting the attention of a little guy called Neil, by swirling around some leaves and grass. He bounded over to me, fascinated by the movements and sounds of the leaf/grass concoction, and was almost childlike in his wide eyed excitement at seeing something new. It was a touching moment to entertain such a precious bundle of blue, and probably something his parents would have done if he was still with them. You can read my earlier post about the plight of the little penguins here.
Carrying our equipment on Granite Island – Photo courtesy of Erin Smithies
Natural light shots – Oct 2009 & June 2010
I also completed a studio session for Tilley the jack russell in Victor Harbor. She is a 12 month old ball of muscle and energy who lives to chase her ball again, and again, and again, and again, and … I think you get the idea! Don’t you just love her?!
Whilst in Adelaide, Erin and I couldn’t resist a quick visit to the Adelaide Zoo to check out the pandas Funi and Wang Wang. They were magnificent to see up close and worth the hype, but I have to confess it was the four month old meerkats who stole the show for me! Mimicking their parents, they were too cute for words! 1000 photos later I tore myself away from them!
Erin, Debora and I also stopped in at Adelaide Zoo’s sister facility, Monarto Zoo, to spend a day with the keepers – my 7th visit behind the scenes there over the last few years. Originally an overflow space for the Adelaide Zoo’s larger animals who were off exhibit, Monarto is now a fully fledged zoo in its own right and is possibly the best zoo in the world (well, if not the best, it’s a tie with Singapore Zoo). It’s located an hour’s drive from Adelaide and all of the animals are free ranging in large paddocks or spacious state of the art enclosures. The behind the scenes tours are hands on with the keepers, driving around the zoo in their utes and getting up close and personal to the chimps, cheetah, rhino, zebra, lions, giraffe, painted dogs, hyenas, and wallabies. I learnt that you don’t feed a rhino with a flat hand the way you feed a horse!
One of my favourite animal interactions from this trip was Maureen the wallaby jumping up onto my camera backpack – whilst it was still on my back! Another magic moment was one of the hyenas taking a liking to my camera lens and planting a big lick on it, right after eating a huge chunk of stinky horse meat.
Photos courtesy of Erin Smithies
As much as the zoo has outstanding facilities and standards of care for its animal residents, the best part about it is the keepers. They are inspiring, passionate and devoted, and I always miss them when I leave! (Hi Tash, Tony, Trav, Mark, Nikki, Emma).