Sunday, April 5, 2009


Her deep blue eyes stare into my own, as she locks into them against my own will. She holds my gaze into hers as her piercing eyes penetrate deep into the crevices of my soul, searching and investigating the mystery of my being. The secrets of my past and present unravel involuntarily in the presence of her strong gaze and the truth of who I am stands before her, unguarded and vulnerable amidst her powerful aura.

And then just as quickly as she had cast it, she breaks the spell. She blinks and walks away from me, head held high, swooshing her tail majestically, bored by how ordinary and mundane I am amidst her extraordinary presence. She stretches lazily, taking in the warmth of the sunshine on a cool spring day, frolicking playfully before settling down for a nap on the cool ground.

Ivory. The white bengal tiger.

These photos were taken at the Potawatomi zoo, an AZA (American Zoo and Aquarium Association) accreditated zoo in South Bend, Indiana.
While the idea of a wild animal in captivity always saddens me, I do realize the important role that accredited zoos play as learning centers in educating and spreading awareness of wildlife conservation. Animals held captive in zoos are often valuable resources to conservation biologists studying the habitat requirement, animal behavior or other aspects of the ecology of an endangered species aimed at the restoration or reintroduction of the population in the wild.
By putting up photos of wild animals clicked at my local zoo, I am not necessarily advocating zoos. While the Potawatomi zoo is an active participant of the species survival plan coordinated by the AZA and is involved in many conservation and education efforts, not all zoos are equally conservation oriented. I feel a conflicted sympathy for the animal held in captivity in an accredited zoo because while it as an individual has lost its right to freedom, a greater benefit to the conservation of its species is often gained out of its captivity. By putting up these photos, I do not necessarily want to get into the argument of "good zoos" versus "bad zoos", I simply want to convey my love and fascination for these wild animals to anyone else that is captivated by their beauty.

~vagabond~ © 2009


alok said...

Wow! woW! you are back with a bang :) very well shoot and glad to see the beautiful tiger.

Once I was lucky to find White tigers in lot at Nandankanan Zoo.

Have a great week ahead.

Vamsee said...

Great shots. Love the different angles at which you shot the tiger.

I agree with you....Zoos always made me sad and I stay away from them. I felt this way until I went to the Jurong Bird Park in Singapore. They do a lot of cool research and were even successful in getting rare birds of paradise to mate in captivity.

Abhijit Dharmadhikari said...

The paw....unique picture:-)

bindu said...

Love the shot of the paw! They are so cute. Gerald Durrell has written a lot about zoos, and I love his writing. Austin has a rescue zoo, and we were there a couple weeks back. It was amazing because many of the animals/birds had something wrong with them because of which they wouldn't make it in the wild anyway. Great pictures.

Trevor Penn said...

The Paw (pic) is amazing...

My Dad works towards Conservation of endangered species and i'm often faced with similar conflicting emotions.

I recently visited the night safari @ Singapore. A unique place very well built and organized. Very educative as well. However, i was bothered that not only are the animals captive, not all of them were nocturnal!!!

Blu said...

Fabulous pictures.thanks got sharing..I feel the same as you do about animals in zoo..but if it helps the species survive, it is a good thing.

D said...

The Paw pic is good. Actually the tiger doesn't look fiery in any way...She actually looks cute...

Hws life?

GMG said...

Hi Vagabond! Wonderful shots! I was thrilled when I saw my first zoo at the age of five, so I always kept this fascination for zoos; even when sometimes they're «bad»... :(

Blogtrotter is showing you Brasilia. Enjoy and have a great and long Easter weekend!

Talking To My Soul said...

Hi Vagabond.

I was kind of away. I liked this post so very much. My fav topic. And these felines are so majestic, lady.

With tigers on their way out, zoos where captive breeding is the norm are also trying to introduce new bloodline. It's part of conservation strategy in India. If need be, reintroduction in forests can be attempted from these captive bred ones.

Great pictures.


~vagabond~ said...


Glad you liked the photos. Someday I'd like to see a white tiger out in the wild.

~vagabond~ said...


Thanks. Yup. The best zoos are those that actually make a tangible difference to the lives of the species that they display.

~vagabond~ said...

Thanks. :)

Thanks. I've got to read up on what Durrell has to say. :)

~vagabond~ said...


Really?! Now how's that for coincidence...until a couple of years ago, I too worked toward conservation of endangered species. I bet we could trade some interesting stories someday. :)

Do put up photos of your Singapore safari.

~vagabond~ said...


Thanks. :) Yup...the only time the captivity of an individual animal in a zoo is justified is if it benefits the species as a whole.

LOL. Havent seen you around in a looooong time...where'd you disappear? Your blog looks like it had a makeover...looks good! :)

~vagabond~ said...

I know what you mean...I think my first memory of being interested in wildlife was during a visit to the local zoo when I was only five years old. Love them or hate them, I do think they make huge impressions on most people which is why they're such an important tool in promoting conservation awareness.

~vagabond~ said...

@Talking to my soul:

I'm glad you liked the post...they are such a majestic species, you just cant photograph them wrong. Sometimes captive breeding in zoos is the only option left for certain species...I know of a severely endangered butterfly too here in the midwest that is practically wiped out in the wild whose only chance at survival is captive breeding in a zoo.

Trevor Penn said...

Yup, really! One of the founders of Laboratory for Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONES).

I wish that someday i can take a big break from my work and go explore the wild whilst collecting scat samples for my Dad to work on. Now, how many people have that on their wish list. LOL!

Will give you a taste of the night safari soon. :-)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.