Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sonoran Desert Museum, Tucson, AZ


promise we are not flaunting our summer clothes on November 28. There is no way that's why I took this photo.

Thanks, Dwayne, for recommending the Sonoran Desert Museum. I'm conflicted about zoological gardens, but this one was certainly nice. However I feel about them, I enjoyed this one a lot.

Prairie dog - Sonoran Desert Museum
Prairie dogs try to look scary.

"Alan! Al! Alan!"

We were made. We ran out in terror and disgrace.

This prairie dog is not a dog, and is not on the prairie. Discuss.

Through no planning of our own, we happened to catch one of the two raptor demonstrations of the day. These birds flew through the crowd like Blue Angels.

Gray hawk - Sonoran Desert Museum
Gray hawk at the Raptor Free-flight

Harris hawk on saguaro

Barn owl

Odd duck at the walk-in aviary
The elusive "Whachu talkin' 'bout, Willis" hummingbird
Bee house. Free rent to solitary bees (pollinator area)

Butterfly garden (pollinator area some more)

This cactus is new to us. We call it the Lethal SparkleStar cactus.

I got my eye on you.

Hypomelanistic Western diamondback rattlesnake. Don't call him "albino." That really honks him off.

We stayed all afternoon.


You know Judy would say...
Prairie dog
"The End!" or...

"Really The End!"

...but, it's not.

If you have zoo-ro tolerance for animals in captivity, I can't recommend this place. Even the hummingbird house and walk-in aviary will bother you. There are bears and big cats and otters and beavers and deer and javelinas. I'm just telling you how it is, so you know ahead of time. 

However, the animals who live there are indigenous to the area - no giraffes or elephants - and their habitats are extremely clean and fairly spacious; they are appropriate to the animal. The residents have "enrichment" activities to stimulate them and pique their interest. One could argue that they are safe.  

We liked it very much, but we're also willing to imprison six cats, so you know what kind of people we are.

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klbexplores said...

Actually, I've known for some time, You're my kind of people.... After all ducks with kitties, what's not to like!

The Good Luck Duck said...

:D Thanks, Karen!

Teri said...

If you want to see those animals in their natural habitat, come volunteer here. No cages or fences.

Anonymous said...

That place has always been wonderful to see, cages or not. It also used to be that place was w-a-aa-y south of Tucson, but the whole area has grown so much, the museum is easy to get to 'cuz it's so close. Some parts of Tucson are still composed of rural neighborhoods. That said, two weeks ago, I saw bobcats in my brother's back yard. All the neighbors are used to seeing them roam around (and that also includes rattlesnakes, quail, javelinas, coyotes and rabbits). The museum just displays in closer proximity those critters that are already IN the settled areas!

Pat said...

Sabino canyon is a must see place in Tucson too. Take the tram to the top and hike back down. You'll cross 7 bridges.

Or this Saturday go to Santa Rita park and watch some base ball played using rules from the 1860s. I'll be one of the Phoenix Senators. It's free and not to boring for the first 33 minutes or so.

Rand said...

best zoo i've been to.. and i grew up in San Diego.

Anonymous said...

I'm always conflicted w/ zoos too, but I appreciate the good ones. Think I would probably like this too.

Cheshire Cats Capers said...

One of our favourite places, because the animals are all indigenous to the area, it somehow never seems like zoo. Have fun!

heyduke50 said...

one of my favorite critters in captivity places as well...

The Good Luck Duck said...

Hey, it's great to get these local tips!

The best zoo, habitat-wise, that I've seen is outside Toronto. In fact, they're so spacious (acres) that you may never see the animal on display. However, they're not native species, so it doesn't feel as "natural" as this one did.

Better than San Diego - wow! That's saying something, Rand.

Pat, what time is the game? Do you play in period uniforms, too? Sabino Canyon sounds great. I'm putting it on my list.

Emjay, I guess I sort of like the enclosures! I don't know how happy I'd be about javelinas in my yard. So, you mean the zoo has always been where it is, but the city moved? It's very convenient to where we're staying.

Teri, the difference is, out here in the desert, I'm trying to stay away from those animals, and at the zoo, I'm trying to get closer. :D

Judy and Emma said...

I'm not a big fan of zoos either, but that museum is a special place. Captive animals also afford numerous opportunities for 'end' shots. :)

Nancy said...

Love the pictures! We are in Tucson and went there last week and loved it.

Soaring Sun said...

The Desert Museum is my favorite of the many zoos I have visited. You know, I home-schooled Sly for about five years, and he had a very high interest in animals, so we went to just about every type of animal venue you could imagine. (Think draft mule pulling contests...A buffalo's birthday party...countless tide pools...)

One year we concentrated on tigers, using them to study across the curriculum--math, social studies, etc. What we learned about animals in captivity, especially endangered ones, is that the point is to show people how beautiful the animals are so they'll support conservation in the wild.

I think the Desert Museum gives visitors an appreciation for what is already around them. It brings the desert to life for people who can't see this on their own. It wakes up their unconsciousness.

What I personally love about the Desert Museum is the opportunity to have science explained to me, to see the animals close-up so I'll recognize them in the wild, the beautiful setting, the art gallery, and the restaurants. It's such a complete experience.

Jim and Sandie said...

Zoo's have their good and bad sides but this one has a whole lot more good. Sure wish Jim felt better - that baseball game sounds like a lot of fun.

The Good Luck Duck said...

Sandie, I hope Jim gets that all resolved quickly so you can do fun stuff.

Sue, I really like that rationale for zoos. It paints them (especially the good ones) in a much better light. I didn't know you homeschooled Sly - that's cool.

Enjoy RV Club Med, Nancy!

Judy, those critters were ENDlessly amusing. Except for the ones that were endfully amusing.

Soaring Sun said...

There was little choice but to home-school. The public schools kept trying to make my kid "normal."

Grace said...

Hey there! So glad you two are enjoying our beautiful Sonoran desert! I've lived in Tucson for over 20 years and have never seen a Javalina except at the museum. It's a great place! Aren't the prairie dogs the best! They're worth the entire admission fee! You're getting some great suggestions for places to visit. I'd like to add a couple more. If you're where I think you are, you're not far from Gates Pass. It's a great place to watch the sunset. It's where Speedway crosses the Tucson Mountains (the mountains that are between you and Tucson). Ask if you have any questions. Also, the San Xavier Mission is pretty awesome. If you're here, you should go there. Enjoy! Grace (in Tucson)

Rosemary said...

Those of us who work at the Desert Museum appreciate all your positive comments about the facility. Thank you! If you were not aware, the Desert Museum pioneered the creation of natural animal habitats that zoos worldwide now employ. We strive to provide habitats for the animals that are as close to natural as possible - and the majority of the animals are rescues that are rehabilitated and cannot be released into the wild. When animals are "retired" they are provided homes here behind the scenes to live out their lives in dignity.

w6pea said...

Great pictures. Good close up of the Rattlesnake.

John and Nan said...

Wherever I see snakes, they give me the willies!

The Good Luck Duck said...

Nan, I should be a little more willie-prone, I guess. Annie should definitely get more uncomfortable!

Thanks, W6P! The snake was a good subject.

Rosemary, I'm so glad you commented! I didn't know that about the animals there, and that makes things excellent. I would say I have no further misgivings about the Museum now.

Grace, thanks for the Gate's Pass recommendation! We drove up there this evening, and it was beautiful. I love those CCC buildings, too. I'll check out the mission.

Sue: blech. You had no other option.

Donna K said...

I enjoyed your pictures very much. I enjoy a well run museum (or zoo). I agree with Soaring Sun that it helps to make us more conscious of the wildlife that is around us. Hopefully it helps develop an appreciation for nature and the animals that live there.

The Good Luck Duck said...

Thanks, Donna. I think that makes a lot of sense, too, and Rosemary's comment rounds out the reality.

Mello Mike said...

I love the Desert Museum. Visited there as a kid and back again a few years ago. Great memories and a great place to view native species. Here's my write up:

Rick Doyle said...

Amazing photos - the one of the rattlesnake is about as close as I ever want to get to one of those critters!

The Good Luck Duck said...

Mike, I think we photographed the same prairie dog. I didn't know they had evening summer hours - very nice.

Rick, I'm some hero with an inch of glass between us!

Anonymous said...

Another good place to visit is the mission at San Xavier del Bac. Also, try the DeGrazia studios (6300 North Swan) in Tucson. Very interesting artist.

And, to answer your response, Tucson has GROWN tremendously out to (almost) meet the Old Tucson movie set and it has crept closer to the zoo as well.


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