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Big Cat Country

Billboards in and around Tucson, where I am staying for the holidays, proclaim this to be โ€œbig cat country.โ€

So I grabbed my camera and hit the trails.

lion with bonetiger crossing streammountain lion descending slope๐Ÿ™‚ And yes, they have โ€˜littleโ€™ cats too. ๐Ÿ™‚

bobcatโ€˜Cat Countryโ€™ in these parts refers to football, of course. But taking photos of two-legged critters in tights is not exactly my idea of fun.

So instead I visited Reid Park Zoo and the world-renown Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

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Random Sightings

I have been privileged to stay here in the vicinity of Yellowstone for a month now, and can’t for the life of me think of any reason for leaving just yet.

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black bearblack bear cubsblack bear cubbull elkdeerblack bear scratching against tree๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

As an amateur wildlife photographer it is no secret that to my way of thinking, bigger & badder is better.

Grizzlies, of course, are several notches higher than Black Bears on the photographer’s Richter Scale, but also much more difficult and dangerous to get close to.ย  (They aren’t officially labeled Ursus arctos horribilis for nothing!ย  Read Scott McMillion’s Mark of the Grizzly if you want a truly riveting-but-horrifying Stephen-King like tale of real-life encounters with Grizzlies.)ย  At least here in the lower 48 states.ย  In Alaska, Brown Bears/Kodiak Bears/Grizzly Bears are relatively more habituated to humans and often totally focused (in season) on snatching salmon.

Which makes for a photographer’s paradise.ย  But because I still teach online 12 months/year, a strong reliable Internet connection is an absolute must.ย  So, at least for the nonce, fascinating remote-access creatures like the Alaskan Brown Bear and the African lion are out of reach for me.

Until then I can only content myself with screen savers on my computer of the biggest and the baddest I can snap pictures of in captivity ๐Ÿ™‚

Tucson TigerTucson Lioness

Tucson polar bear

Tucson Mountain LionOkay… Bigger may be badder but sometimes smaller is cuter!

Tucson Lion cub๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

Elusive & Endangered

These cats are magnificent, even behind bars.

panther behind bars

Florida Panther

Also known (in other areas) as the cougar, mountain lion, puma, and catamount, the Florida panther is an endangered species currently occupying only 5% of its historic range. In the 1970s there were an estimated 20 Florida panthers in the wild, although thanks to aggressive wildlife management their numbers have increased to over 160 as of 2011.

Active at night, they are rarely seen by humans. Below, however, is video footage of a panther casually strolling down the boardwalk at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Take a look, and also listen for the warning sound of a hawk in the background. Continue reading