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woxys

Hobby ZOO photographer
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Hi Pals,


I hope you had lovely X-mas, which present or which thing did please you the most?

Also, I wish you all the best for 2024, especially strong health :)


There is also a little gift from my side - report from Marineland Antibes I visited several days ago. For me, it was a long time dream coming true!

This report will have two parts, first one focusing on orcas and dolphins, the second one will cover other species.

I prepared it for my fellow zoo lovers in Czech, so this is a Deepl translate :)


For anybody who is willing to support my zoo trips, please buy me a coffee :aww:

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/zoo_photographer

Thank you :hug:



Part I - Cataceans


This is the second truly marine mammal-only park I've visited. And because I think that such an animal collection and enclosures are not something that a common person can see very often, I will discuss them in detail. You will see the pools from different angles to get a really good picture.


Not to be confused: the park breeds bottlenose dolphins in two places separated by about 200 meters. It also has two separate pools for harbour seals. Otherwise, in addition to killer whales, there are FOUR species of sea lions and FOUR species of penguins. All the facilities are ample and deep, often allowing a view below the surface.


In today's post we will take a look at the whales, leaving the other species for next time 🙂 .

The park is surprisingly small, I think if you decided to walk through it at a brisk walk you could really get through it in about 5-7 minutes. The number of bred species is minimal, but that doesn't detract from its attractiveness. Another huge advantage of Antibes is that you can watch the whales here all the time (beware, killer whales only on weekends, check their presence), i.e. even outside the show. It's brilliant for taking photos, but also for observing these incredible animals. We, for example, were unable to move away from the killer whales on Saturday except for maybe 15 minutes.


I guess I would like to say this up front: I would hate to start a debate here about keeping cetaceans in captivity. All I will say from my own point of view is that the whole situation suggests to me that breeding bottlenose dolphins is relatively successful and, with some increasingly stringent standards and pressures on conditions, is possible. I was skeptical about killer whales, and despite my overwhelming desire to see them, I was afraid that their tank and breeding would have a depressing effect on me and I would instead have very negative feelings about it.


The opposite was true. I have never seen a park where the husbandry had such a professional, downright positive effect on me, where I felt that the experts really knew that they had taken away the freedom and associated brain employment from such intelligent animals - so they were trying to compensate. With the killer whales and dolphins, pretty much the whole time (except for breaks, so the animals had time to themselves, someone was there to attend to them. Whether by training or some small interaction or care. I can say with a clear conscience that I was thrilled out of my heart, and I've seen some marine mammal facilities before.


What I find even harder to bear is the fact that the "activists" have managed to get Antibes closed as a park, and the killer whales are going to Japan from breeders they have a personal connection to, and from a park where they were born and know nothing else. And to a much smaller tank and worse conditions. Long live bigotry.

1a

The park is actually a bit of a noodle - today we will focus on the red and blue passage where the cetaceans are kept. Be warned, the whole red section is only available on the weekend. (Photo - Google Earth)

1b

Let's start hard. Killer whales. A dream coming true. And if you're gonna breed killer whales in the 21st Century, here's how you do it. 42 million salty waters straight from the sea that basically bathes the edge of the park. It's pumped 600 metres offshore from a depth of 70 metres.

2

Orca Fjord is divided into five different pools - the main pool is 11 metres deep and also features a 6 metre high and over 60 metre long panoramic window. The three "back" pools are followed by a lagoon. All the tanks are interconnected and the keepers work intensively with this during the day, moving the animals around in different ways. If there was a lull, the male, who is lowest in the hierarchy, was separated in the main pool, while the other two killer whales had all the other tanks at their disposal.

3
4

Watching killer whales underwater is an amazing experience. Orcas have a different regime now - visitors come only on weekends. The animals were downright curious and swam to watch the humans. However, the opportunities for photographers are very limited, even though the animals are willing to pose - the glass is completely dirty from the salty sea water, don't count on a nice "underwater" shot here. Too many stains. However, I promise that even just the view is an incredible.

3a

It's unbelievable, but the killer whales can easily disapear completely. If they don't emerge above water, you really don't see them at all.

5

And we're heading to the lagoon. On the way we have a limited view of one of the backpools in the center of the facility.

6

The lagoon is beautiful. It is shaped like a wide noodle and is divided into a deeper and a shallower (but still very deep, I guess at least 5 meters) part. I have to say that watching killer whales pass right under you is an incredible experience.

7
7a
8
9

You can observe orcas from this terrace. As you can see, it offers a fantastic view of the animals and the whole complex. The killer whales are right in front of you, maybe just 2 meters away, maybe a little closer. There was also a lot of interaction between animals and trainers, exercise, but the animals were also here playing by themselves, or just swimming. No one chases you away, you can stare dreamily for hours and hours (which we did 😃).


Now let's move to the dolphins - still in the red area.

10

Just behind the orca pavilion begins the dolphin lagoon, which is slightly encroached by a separate section for seals (I will show you next time). They share the same water, dolphins are separated with artificial stone wall and under the surface, there is a fence.

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12
13
13a

I liked the dolphin pool a lot with its size and irregular shape. I was less happy with its depth, I don't think it's more than 4 meters... There's no show going on here, yet the keepers are attentive to the animals and keep their attention. In the background, there is a monstrous aviary for breeding... um... peacocks :D

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15

A relatively inconspicuous gate leads down to an area that serves as a swimming pool in summer and simulates swimming with dolphins and seals, which the park does not offer. Windows are available at this time to observe the animals, which interacted very lively 🙂 And what about photography? Careful, it's not ideal here either. First of all, you have to deal with strong reflections, but it's still possible. Worse is the fact that the glass is getting dirty. The dolphins play and splash, so the panels are full of dried seawater, which just ruins the photos significantly.

16
17

A different view of the pool and a underwater viewing. You won't find swimming with the dolphins here, but you can pay for interaction where you probably feed the dolphins and can give commands. The action takes place in these side tanks.


Now we will leave whole red section with dolphin lagoon and orcas and we will visit the part with dolphin pool, which is accessible whole week. Its location is marked with blue on the initial map.

21

This pool for dolphins looks more artificial, but it is much deeper. There are three tanks - the main (show pool) and 2 backstage. The trainers were again intensively devoted to the animals all the time, training them, playing and dividing them in different ways. If you want an interesting photo without an artificial background, I recommend taking the photo from as high up as possible. But it's still a challenge 🙂

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The great news is that you can watch the animals here all the time, not just during the show. There is only plexiglass between you and the dolphins, but you can stand up to it and take pictures above it. The trainers were ok with this. But I was missing underwater viewing.

24

I hope you liked the report, there will be second part :D


Have fun!


W.

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There is a mass shooting at Prague's university... At least 10 victims, some seriously injured... Shooter is fortunately killed already. I know it is sadly almost a "common sight" in US, but in our country, this is total shock. Probably first such "school" event in our history. So horrible... I hope for the least severe impact on the survivors and their loved ones. Horrible, horrible. I am shaken :(


https://edition.cnn.com/2023/12/21/europe/prague-university-shooting-intl/index.html

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It is HAPPENING!


Ok pals, I did it - with my friend, we bought a flying ticket and we are about to enjoy a special zoo trip. I really hope to see our very, but very special target animal. It would help me to boost my morale after quite a horrible year.


By the way, I miss those little games we used to play together. So: those who guess correctly which animal species I want to photograph in that zoo facility, will get a feature! Three little hints:

🔵 The animal park is in Europe

🔵 It has a rather specialized theme (big help, guys :D)

🔵 I have never seen this animal, so of course it is missing in my gallery.


Will there by any attempt?


Also: honestly, the decision to go was not that economic wise :XD: so if you like my photos and want to support me, any single donation would be a big help. I am not a fancy person and I keep the trip in super loooow budget style. But it is still 400 USD altogether :roll:


https://www.buymeacoffee.com/zoo_photographer


Thank you (especially two superguys, who already helped :heart: ) and have great time - and guess the animal :D


P.S.: Have I EVER told you that I LOATH flying? :XD: I am a control freak and I can not stand that helpless state when you need to fully rely on the crew.


P.P.S.: As for the feature: no animal cruelty, porn, etc etc, please :giggle:

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Hi guys,


I promised some more joyful journal last time. I got myself one lovely covid (I am fine, very mild course, just some light cough, cold, running nose, tiredness), so I have time to write some :D


Do you remember Laughing wolves meme? https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/laughing-wolves

As you probably know, it was based on my photo:

Global yawning

I was never happy with quality of that photo, so the fact it made many people smile satisfies me enough :D


But to give it some better purpose, I got in touch with my local zoo and allowed them to use the photo. Haha, they used it for several things: for a tourist stamp that commemorates the 70th anniversary of the zoo, for eco vax wrap for food and recently also for 70th anniversary Eurosouvenir.


Stamp:

Vyrocni-turisticka-znamka-70-let

Vax food wrap

Voskovany-ubrousek-wrapik-35x30-cm

Zoo souvernir

Obrazek

If you want to buy any, there is an e-shop: https://www.brnoid.cz/cs/zoo-suvenyry


The number of Eurosouvenirs was limited and as it was targeted mainly to collector, some of them even spent the night at the zoo's gate to not miss the opportunity! :lol: (this photo was taken by zoo's spokesperson and I got the permission to use it):

1

While I decided to stay anonymous, the photo itself even made media titles! :D :D :D

Obrazek
Obrazek
Obrazek
Obrazek

It really amused me a lot and I hope it brought zoo Brno some little income :heart:

I am happy to help :nod:



Oh, and I founded Buy me a coffee :aww:

So if you feel like supporting my zoo trips, I am grateful for any donation :heart:

Thank you! :heart:

Obrazek
Bmc Qr(1)

Have a nice pre-Xmas time and stay HEALTHY, everybody!


Wox



P.S.: thank you, oh thank you for lovely gift of 1 month premium membership! :heart:

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Hello everybody, how are you, guys? :-)


I have to admit 2023 has been pretty challenging so far and I almost did not have time or mood for photography.


My grandfather died a year ago. It was rather natural, he was 92 and his health deteriorated slowly but steadily. He had two daughters – my mom and her sister. We have been always extremely close with my aunt’s family – as kids, we played together, both families living very close to each other, spending vacations together. Even when we turned adults, we still kept that relation.

I was always worried about possible consequences of my grandad’s passing – and indeed, there came some disputes over the heritage :(

It was not as rough as it could be, but it was painful enough.

It lasted for months and months and only recently there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel.

After some strange time, both families communicate together normally now and obviously want to get along again. I even host our traditional Christmas celebration at my little rented apartment on December 25th. Yay. Finally.


But I am really bad at dealing with situations when I am helpless, I have some feeling of injustice and I simply can not make a change and I am forced to be passive.

And 2023 was full of such situations.


My parents started an extensive renovation of their beloved weekend house – and I did not feel they secured finances for that. If they made a mistake, it would be pretty costly.


And worst of it – during the pre-renovation phase of the reconstruction, my mom experienced some serious and rather dramatic health problems. My dad rushed her to hospital and the outcome was severe – there was a very probably chance that my mom could have cancer. It was a super horrible, absolutely awful time – we had to repeatedly wait for results of rather invasive tests, then there was a surgery, then another weeks of waiting. And finally, after two super stressful months, we learned that she is healthy, it fortunately was not cancer but a problem, that got fixed by the surgery itself.


Of course I was incredibly happy my mom is ok.

But those weeks totally drained me.

I woke up very early, tried to work a bit, then made a lunch, rushed to my parent’s apartment (it is fortunately very close, just 12 minutes of walking), then I was my mom’s company and assistance for several hours. Then after my dad got back from work, I went home.

During the weekends, I had to help with that renovation of weekend house, which was already in process – it sometime it was pretty heavy work.

I also prepared food for everybody.

When our distant relative died, I went there to represent our family, so others might pass it.

I also tried to help my best friend when she needed some assistance with her adorable daughter – I enjoyed every single minute with that cute and funny toddler, but you can imagine how tiring is care for such a small kid when you are not used to it and you see potential danger everywhere.

During the Summer, I had literally TWO days just for me.


And you know, my sister had her boyfriend, my parents were together, but I was alone for everything.

I helped, I assisted. And then I got home and I was alone with fears, some awful ideas.

In my family, seriously NOBODY ever asked how I feel and if I need help :XD:

So while in the past 3 years I was very happy to lose a LOT of weight and to do sport on regular basis, several hours every week, I had no capacity for that in 2023.

And since I cared for everybody and I was tired and I needed some care as well…, all I could do was to order pizza.

Because it was at least ONE stupid moment when somebody delivered something for me.

Even if it was fatty pizza and I even paid for it of course.

So I got a lot of weight back.

And till today, I have not fixed it.

I still eat more and have no sport. I feel dirty and incapable.


Moreover, a major topic for me is the russian aggression against Ukraine. I do not want to debate it here, but I follow it closely and it is killing me slowly inside. Last year I sent as much money as I could to support Ukraine, but economics and higher prices has its impact also on me. Quite bad impact. So I can not help anymore.


So other stress for me, another feeling of being helpless.


There came some promises concerning my job (and payment) that have not been kept and severely affected my economic situation. Again – stress and helplessness.


I have an awful feeling that I tend to saturate everybody around and I forget or suppress my own needs – both emotional and just vital.


I am just sooo tired.

And so spent.

So spent.


To somehow kick my morals and to keep my head up, I decided to do economically unwise decision and to make one of my dreams come true. I learned that I have only limited time to visit one place that has been in my bucket list for many many many years.


If I succeed, there will be new photos :nod:


By the way…

If you have ever considered some support for me – for using my photos for school projects, for drawing references, for manips… Or simply because you like my work and want to support me, I would be grateful for any donation, even symbolic ones.

I would help me to make that dream come true.


I have a Paypal account linked to e-mail address Woxys@seznam.cz :)


Thank you for any help, for even considering it.

But guys, it is still fine to use my art as a reference even if you do not want to donate! I love just seeing works inspired by my photos. It makes me smile. So no pressure.


Oh, and I founded Buy me a coffee :aww:

So if you feel like supporting my zoo trips, I am grateful for any donation :heart:

Thank you! :heart:

Obrazek
Bmc Qr(1)


Also thank you for reading this journal. It is long. People hate reading long texts.

I know :)


Next journal will be a bit more positive.

Believe or not, but my trio of wolves, photo that inspired like billion of those funny “Laughing wolves” memes, serves well a good purpose. It is hilarious and while my only benefit was a smile and a good feeling (sigh. Again, I do too many things for free), it still encouraged my spirit.


I missed you, pals. Tell me more about you, please :hug:


Best


Wox


P.S.: I am still obsessed with Ninja Turtles, especially with 2012 version and I even loved Mutant Mayhem movie. Seriously, thought of Leonardo, who has been a role model for me since I was a little kid (= Leo is so brave, honest, caring, courageous, never giving up, great leader and super responsible creature) was helping me through. He always does what is needed, no matter what. Huh, pretty childish, hm? But I am just a human being. And it makes me smile – and how many talented artists, both writers and illustrators are out there, is just blowing my mind :-)

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