Saturday, August 13, 2016

Since we were camped about two blocks from the Minnesota Zoo we decided to check it out. It turned out to be a spacious zoo with most animals housed in a simulated natural environment. We saw a number of species we had never seen before. Some were near extinction in the wild. For example the Amur Leopard. An information plaque at the zoo claimed that by 2008 only 30 remained in the wild at the tip of Russia's Pacific coast.

Amur Leopard

Another endangered species we saw was the Komodo Dragon. This big lizard is the largest in the world and adults grow to more than 8 feet and weigh over 200 pounds. I like the little blue-tailed lizards that live around our garage door but glad these monsters live in Indonesia.

Komodo Dragon

Everyone is familiar with the marsupials Opossum and Kangaroo but we were surprised to learn there is a Tree Kangaroo. The zoo had a Matschie's Tree Kangaroo that lives in a very small area of New Guinea. This animal is also endangered due to human activities such as mining and coffee farming.

Matschie's Tree Kangaroo

Another odd creature we had never seen was the Takin. The Takin is mostly found in China and are adapt at climbing in rocky, mountainous terrain like goats.


We learned an easy way to tell a monkey from an ape is that apes do not have tails. Most of us think apes are larger than monkeys and most of the time that is true. At the Minnesota Zoo we were introduced to the Gibbon, a small ape that looks like a monkey. They are the fastest and most agile of all tree dwelling mammals and we saw this demonstrated by the two Gibbons at the zoo. It was amazing to watch them swing and jump from branch to branch. Wikipedia says they can swing up to 50 feet at speeds as high as 34 MPH and make leaps up to 26 feet.

Female Gibbon

Male Gibbon

When we think of a camel most of us visualize the single hump species from the Middle East like the one these children are riding at the zoo.

The Bactrian camel native to Asia has two humps. Notice the green algae clinging to the side of this camel. The day we visited the zoo it was hot and humid and many of the animals were taking cover in shade or otherwise attempting to stay cool. We were not able to see some of the animals because they were out of site in their habit. The Bactrian camels were cooling off in a pond covered with algae.

Bactrian camel

Cooling off in the pond

Brown bear digs a bed in the dirt to stay cool

 The music icon Prince was born in Minneapolis and his home, the famous Paisley Park, is located a few miles west of the city in Chanhassen, MN. Since we were so close we made the drive over and walked the fence in front of the estate. It was obvious that thousands had preceded us since his death. Almost every square inch of the fence was adorned with a tribute. We even saw one from New Zealand. The list of famous musicians who have died as a result of drug use is long. Three immediately come to mind, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, and Prince. Notice concrete barriers have been placed between the curb and the street to protect visitors from traffic.

Unless something noteworthy occurs, this will be our last post for this trip. We are at the North Sioux City KOA mainly because we have an appointment Monday at the Blue Ox factory in Pender, NE. This area is referred to by the local media as Siouxland because there are three cities in different states in a single metropolitan area. They are Sioux City, IA, North Sioux City, SD, and South Sioux City, NE. Yesterday we drove to the nearest Walmart using "Ok Google", a distance of 8.7 miles, and were welcomed to Iowa and Nebraska by the female voice as we made our way there.

We will start the journey home on Tuesday making approximately 300 mile daily jaunts and expect to arrive Friday afternoon.

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