I could spend all day at the zoo.
And when I say “I could” what I really mean is… “I often do.”
I’ve always been obsessed with animals. When I was a kid my idol was Steven Irwin. In kindergarten when I was asked to do a report on what I wanted to be when I grew up I drew a picture of myself hosting an animal show on animal planet.
I obsessed over the Wild Thornberrys. My childhood self would have given anything to be like Eliza and talk to animals. I envied her fictional family and the adventures they had. Then, when I started photography at age 13, I dreamed of being a wildlife photographer! I bought book after book filled with wildlife images. I studied them. I poured my heart into them.
Of course life doesn’t always turn out the way we dream as a child. I mean, I’m not traveling the world with a 500mm lens (I can’t even fathom affording a 500mm lens). I don’t have my own animal show. And worst of all I still can’t talk to animals (I mean I talk to my cat all day but I don’t magically understand her replies.
But…the zoo exists…. and it brings me so close to the animals I love. What is the purpose of a zoo? To educate and bring awareness to the public about conservation. To inspire our love and appreciation of the animals that share the world with us and to protect, conserve, and study a diverse array of species.
In my last post here I talked about the beauty of traveling alone and this is one of my favorite things to do solo! I spend hours at my favorite exhibits watching the animals interact and capturing every fascinating moment with no one to rush me along.
The zoo is such a fantastic place to practice animal photography. I am always surprised at what I can capture with my base level 75 – 300mm lens. Through photography I’ve also been able to witness so many beautiful moments, like tigers grooming each other, baboon babies learning to climb, and birds flying in flocks around an aviary.
So, I may not be Eliza Thornberry but I think kid Jenny would be proud of the photographs I’ve captured, the things I’ve learned, and the memories I’ve made appreciating the animals of the world.
What were your childhood dreams?