Month: May 2012

Penguin Heaven

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The rules state we must stay at least 5 meters away from them. Many of the young are going through what is termed a “catastrophic molt”, which is a stressful time for them and we do not need to add more stress. You will see pictures of the young penguins molting in this page. Penguins do do not have the same rules as us humanoids though, and will oftentimes come right up to you. 

A gentoo posing for the camera

Gentoo Penguins



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Gentoo Penguins



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Typical Day for Our Technicians

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Our animal health technicians(AHT’s) perform one of the most important jobs at our hospital. Without their help we would not be able to provide such a high quality of medical care. They work as a team, and are very flexible in helping each other. Lets take a look at what happens during a typical (and busy) day……

They start their day early, with at least one of them arriving at work at 6:30 AM. They assess all of the hospitalized pets and given them whatever treatment is needed. This treatment board is their control panel. It allows them to stay organized, current, and to verify that treatments have been completed.

Morning treatments make up a big part of the early morning duties of our staff. Denise is giving fluids to one of our sick patients. He is dehydrated and weak, so the fluids are a large part of his therapy.

By 8 AM one of the AHT’s breaks off from treating sick pets and assists the doctors in morning rounds. She gives insight into the pets’ conditions, makes notes in the records, and carries out specific instructions. By listening to the doctors discuss the cases the nurses can help update clients on their pet’s condition. They also update the pet’s record in the computer, allowing our receptionists to have access to current information.

Simultaneously to the above duties, one of our AHT’s is preparing for today’s surgery. Here is Shannon helping Denise by preparing the medication and paperwork for one of the day’s scheduled surgeries. When she is ready she summons the surgeon who examines the pet and gives any instructions. She is now ready to give a pre anesthetic tranquilizer and set up for surgery.

By 9 AM our first scheduled appointments of the day are arriving. Shannon has already reviewed this owner’s record, and stands by to greet her when she arrives.

Shannon will ask some background questions regarding this pets condition. This history is a very important part of the diagnostic process for our doctors. Our patients can’t talk to us, so we rely upon this information in arriving at a diagnosis.

After she has completed the background questions Shannon performs a preliminary exam. This alerts our doctors to any problems and allows them to thoroughly investigate a pets condition.

When Shannon is finished she alerts the doctor and goes on to the next client. After this client is checked in she reviews the record of the first client to carry out any instructions from the doctor.

Meanwhile, back in surgery, Denise is monitoring one of Dr. Ridgeway’s surgeries. This one happens to be a hernia repair on a Pit Bull named Rufus

While Denise is closely monitoring a surgical patient Shannon is helping her by making a post operative phone call on a prior surgery, letting the owner know their pet is waking up fine from anesthesia.

Our AHT’s also perform treatments on an outpatient basis along with diagnostic tests in the hospital. Here is Terri taking a radiograph on Peanuts the rabbit.

Their day does not end until all medical records are reviewed and prepared for any evening treatments or next morning treatments.

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Northern Michigan

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Some of the wildlife and scenery around Harbor Springs, Michigan

Sandhill Cranes

Whitetail deer

Larks Lake

Great Blue Heron

Belted kingfisher


Red Fox

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Tsavo at Night

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We call this page “nocturnal Africa” since we spent a significant amount of time out in the bush throughout the evening. Its a whole different world at night….

Before we begin lets look as some of our guides par excellence!

Simon, guide and budding comedian forgetting to take the lens cap off.

Chui, the flat tire king

And Alex, laughing at us as we clang aboard the Land Rovers with all of our equipment.

We used a million candle power light at night in order to see in the distance. Most of the time all we could see were the reflections from their eyes. There were numerous false alarms, and lots of embarrassing laughs, as we learned the difference between a predator and a harmless creature like a bush baby.

Lets look at some “night eyes” and see if you can figure out what creature is behind those eyes. You already saw the lion eyes, see if you can figure these out before we give you the answer

Lets turn a few dials on this camera and see if this helps you.

Cape Buffalo




You need a powerful flash for most of the night time shots. Once you get it set up there are lots of critters waiting to put on a show.

White tailed mongoose were a common sight.

This Serval walked right up to us, concentrating totally on his hunting.

The waterholes always had some evening action.

This bat eared fox entertained us by chasing this mouse.

This is a genet, an nocturnal cat-like creature that is actually related to a mongoose.

Staying awake throughout the night wasn’t always easy as you can see. We will keep this person’s name confidential so the head researchers don’t find out who he is and make him come back next year!

We would often stay out until the morning sun. We were in the right place when the sun came up for this cheetah picture.

Back at camp, after a long evening, we all enjoyed our mid day siestas. We were too tired, and it was too hot, to do anything else.

After our nap we would to go to the waterhole at camp and watch the elephants interact.

Late one afternoon we came across these two males resting in the shade. Their names are Kabochi and Bahati.

As we continued to observe them Bahati walked over to a buffalo killed we hadn’t noticed.

Both lions feasted away for several hours until it became dark and we had to get back to camp

Just before we left I took one last photo

We returned the next morning to see if they were still there. They were gone, and never returned

In our two weeks we had one (and only one) day off. So guess what we did? We did something different, and went game viewing at Tsavo East National Park.

We did a no-no upon entering the park and were immediately arrested and thrown in the brig. After the State Department posted our bail we continued on our tour.

Tsavo East has lots of elephants to say the least. The park has a hard time keeping them from roaming outside the park.

At the entrance to the park is a nice hotel with a beautiful view of a waterhole. As you can see the hotel has a sense of humor, which fit in well with our group.

A highlight of the trip for many volunteers was Kabochi’s sedation and replacement of his radio collar.

The veterinarian called in to do the sedation was very experienced and it went off flawlesslly.

As soon as Kabochi was safely under anesthesia the guides did their thing. Dr. Kasiki was the record keeper.

Alex took skin and hair biopsies

Chui put the new radio collar on

As for Simon…. lets just say he helped supervise and we will leave it at that.

Dr. P helped take a blood sample and perform an exam. The lower right canine tooth has a slab fracture.

When all the real work was finished we had a chance to take a few photos before we gave a reversing agent

We went back to our vehicles and watched as Kabochi slowly woke up and staggered away, giving us one last look before he disappeared

Our last evening was spent toasting to the people, animals, and beauty of the area. Dr. P is standing with Dr. Kasiki, the head researcher at camp. He is one of the nicest and most sincere men in Africa. He also knows how to drive his truck at breakneck speed when you need to get to some funny-named and out-of-the-way airport on time!

To learn much more about a research trip like this and how you can go on a trip with lions click here to see the  details.

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Leopard Seal on the Hunt

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The first series of pictures shows a Leopard Seal that was inquisitive and came right up to our zodiak  before diving under us

He was not afraid and swam right past us while we just sat there bobbing in the calm water

When he got next to us he put his head down and dove under our zodiak

On a different day this one frolicked with us for a short time

He came toward us…..

…and went under our zodiak in the opposite direction

Soon after this first visit a zodiak spotted one that was hunting a shag. We are not sure if it was the same seal, so we motored on over. The water was rough so photography was challenging. 

Our zodiak got there in time to watch him thrash the shag

The shaking was so violent that sometimes all we could see was water spray

He shook it until he skinned it and the meat was available. This is the shag’s breast muscle and wing.

When he was satisfied with his meal preparation eating commenced

When he approached us we decided discretion is the better part of you know what and we hi-zodiaked it out of there!

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Masai Mara 2007- Lions

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This page shows pictures of beautiful males, cubs, females, and mating lions.

This relaxed male was not bothered by our presence and calmly yawned his boredom.

These playful cubs put on a show for us

Their mother kept a watchful eye to make sure we did not feed them any junk food

These cubs played for each other for hours

They even played with a large male

This was not a good idea after they tried his patience a little too long

These juvenile males gave us a good chance to capture some drinking lions. John has the 500 mm lens, and we had plenty of time to anticipate the action.

John did good and got them at the right moment

This lioness was resting in the evening sun after an unsuccessful impala stalk

These females are getting ready to go on a hunt (great shot Peter)

In the early morning light this male was using his powerful voice to call another large male

The other male came over but kept on going

So our friend sat down and relaxed in the morning sun

Pretty soon his girlfriend showed up, so you can imagine what happened next

She walked right past the male as he took note of her

As she vied for his attention he played hard to get for quite a while

Every once in a while he glanced her way…..

…..and then ignored her again

So she kept on trying….

…. and finally got what she wanted

This young male lion was ready for an ambush

The wildebeest had no idea he was there. The male was just a little too far away, and not very hungry according to our guide, to go after them. So the wildebeest lived another day.

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Masai Mara 2007- Lewa Downs

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Lewa is not a camp like our other two locations. It has permanent, rustic, and luxurious cottages in a beautiful setting. It has been run by the Craig family for the last 30 years. They have dedicated themselves to conservation of the animals in this part of Africa.

At Lewa you can go on horseback rides, camel rides, and long walks, and evening game drives in open vehicles. There are many rhino because it is a protected area. While we were there Simon King of the BBC (he is a big part of Big Cat Diaries on TV) was filming 3 cheetah brothers as they went about their day. They killed an ostrich, which we were told will be on TV in 2009. To think we were right there with him……

Very comfortable and warm meeting area

Same room from a different angle

Dining area

Meeting area prior to going off on walks etc.

My bedroom

It was a large room that could fit a familly. There were even beds in a loft. Nights were cool due to the elevation so a fire welcomed you after the evening meal.

The view off the veranda from my bedroom

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Masai Mara 2007- Leopard

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This elusive cat showed up a few times on our trip. Like all the big cats we can watch them for hours. Unlike the lions and cheetahs, leopards prefer to do things in private, so you have to get that shot when you can. One morning this female was found just outside our camp.

She was intent on something so we stayed with her. She moved through the grass rapdily so following her was not easy.

We were lucky to get a shot of her when she dashed off to attack a baby warthog. She was succesful, and move her prey into higher grass to eat. That was the last we saw of her.

This female was found when we heard her calling her young.

She walked right past us, and moved so quickly I did not have time to change lenses or cameras. So I had to stay with the 500mm lens, which was too much lens for this distance. At least I got a closeup!

Let’s test your eyesight. Do you see the leopard in this photo? It’s in the middle left branch of the far right tree. Sometimes this is the only view you get of wildlife. Lucky we have “eagle eyed” guides with us.

As we move closer she is much easier to see

She stayed in that branch until it got too dark to photograph

This beauty came out and posed for us in the late afternoon sun

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Masai Mara 2007 Group 3

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The Shot Meisters

Yea, our final group at Rekero camp.

A couple of “Cheetah Chicks” teaching the cheetahs the proper way to pose

This group was serious about their photography

They also knew how to have fun

A nice uphill hike to stretch the legs at Wilderness Trails Lewa

They took so many photos we never had time for a photo contest.
Instead, we reviewed photos at our mid-day break

Catching that good afternoon sun….

Rick is in his glory!

Getting psyched up for our camel ride

Our final breakfast at Rekero

One last group shot at Lewa

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Masa Mara 2007 Group 2

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This page has just a few of the numerous photos we took of our second group at Ol Seki.

 The Cheetah Chasers

Ol Seki is a beautiful camp with its ambiance and style

Our day at Ol Seki started just as early as the other camps. We tried to catch that early morning sun.

By 9 AM we were back for a hardy and gourment breakfast. The breakfasts, lunches, and dinners at Ol Seki were a delight.

This camp allowed walking tours, so we took advantage of this whenever we could

On occasion we had a unique “hunter” Masai take us on a stroll

At the end of our walk we had our refreshments in the daytime……..

……. and our sundowners in the evening

Many an hour was spent relaxing and game viewing

Group 2 had lots of avid photographers

They also had an awesome balloon ride

They took off as the sun was rising

It is a nice vantage point for the Mara

The animals are not bothered by the balloon so you glide right over them

The landing is as much fun as the ride

On our last night the guides put on a song and dance routine for us.

It was a dance in our honor, showing their pride in their traditions and respect for us for coming to their land

After their routine they waited in eager anticipation of our song and dance (boy were they disappointed)

We reciprocated with our version of “auld lang syne” Who the heck picked that song?

On our last day they gave us a surprise breakfast in the bush (there is more to this story in case you want to hear it)

Time for Dr. P to say good riddance to group 2 and all their antics and get ready to meet Group 3 back at Rokero again.

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