S H O U L D  Y O U  G E T  Y O U R  K I D  A  C A M E R A?


My daughter Megan teethed on my DSLR camera as she grew up around photo shoots at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s zoos and aquarium. In high school, during her science research on the Bronx Zoo lions, she stepped it up and took her own photos of animals in action (lion cubs, below.)

Nowadays, she is a freshman at Quinnipiac University taking sports and events photos with the Nikon D7000, a camera with nice capacity for stills and video that capture motion (a recent QU Bobcat hockey game, below middle.)

So, is a camera a good investment for your kid? I think so!

Photo credits: Megan Maher, Julie Larsen Maher



R I V E R  H O R S E

Hippopotamuses, derived from the Greek words “river horse”, are semi-aquatic herbivores that live their lives in water, except during evening feeding rituals.

Hippos line the banks of the Victoria Nile River in Uganda, above and below the water.

Keep a “camera-ready” status for hippo moments. I had both fast shutter and high ISO settings to capture the action as this female appeared from her lotus-covered lounging spot on a recent Wildlife Conservation Society photo assignment.

Illegal and unregulated hunting for hippo meat and teeth (which are a source of ivory for export) have landed one of the world’s largest land mammals on the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species with “Vulnerable” status.

Photo credit: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

Sources: wcs.org, iucnredlist.org, lexar.com – Julie Larsen Maher


 W E A N E R S

On a Wildlife Conservation Society photo assignment in Argentina, we walked down a sandy slope of Peninsula Valdez to see scores of weaners—month-old southern elephant seals—scattered along their sandy nursery like plump, silver pillows.

Recently weaned from their mothers’ rich milk, the weaners watched me with a lazy curiosity as I pulled out my camera. Some rolled over, which is about as far as they wanted to travel from their spot in the sunshine.

A Nikkor 80-400 mm zoom lens at a respectful distance made this shot, although it looks like I am sitting right beside it.

Photo credit: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS




Make forever memories by taking photos of your kids with animals at our zoos. Instead of posing your family and asking them to look at the camera, wait for a moment of action, like our Central Park Zoo’s polar bear splashdown, and the picture makes itself.

This shot is from our WCS Photo Collection from more than a decade ago taken by Dennis DeMello, my predecessor as WCS Staff Photographer.

To our subjects—Happy 18th Birthday, Megan, and Happy World Animal Day, Gus, the polar bear!




E A T  Y O U R   V E G E T A B L E S

October 1 is World Vegetarian Day, the beginning of a month of awareness on eating more veggies. Some of the most ample mammals, like hippos, are big plant-eaters, or herbivores, and like a good salad to celebrate any occasion.

An historic shot from our WCS Photo Collection shows Peter, a hippo that lived at the Bronx Zoo in the middle of the last century, as he takes the “cake,” made from garden vegetables.

Credit: Wildlife Conservation Society

Source: worldvegetarianday.org, lexar – julie larsen maher


S K U N K  S P O T T E D  A T  T H E  M O U S E  H O U S E

This spotted skunk can be seen at the Bronx Zoo’s Mouse House.

Aptly named Rose, she is most active when it is dark—crawling through hollow logs and into burrows.

How to make a great picture with little or no light? Use a higher ISO setting and a lens with vibration reduction.

Photo credit: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

Source: Bronx Zoo and Nikon



P R I M A T E S  I N  P E R I L

Gorillas, all kinds, are in peril. Poaching and diseases like Ebola have decimated their numbers, even in protected areas. Their status is critically endangered. The Wildlife Conservation Society is working to make a difference by encouraging the renewal of the Save Vanishing Species stamp.

I am lucky to have western lowland gorillas as my neighbors at the Bronx Zoo. Ernie, one of our silverbacks, is a fine photo subject. He lives with his group of females at the Congo Gorilla Forest.

Standing at an angle to the exhibit glass while taking pictures helps to eliminate glare and reflections. (Yes, there is glass between Ernie and me!)

Photo credit: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

Sources: WCS and IUCN Red List


I N  T I M E  F O R  T A Z O

Sea Otter Awareness Week seems a good time to get out Tazo, the northern sea otter’s, baby pictures. Tazo was orphaned from his mother during a storm at a very young age and found his new home at the New York Aquarium (NYA) via the Alaska Sea Life Center in 2010. Tazo was nursed back to health by surrogate keeper moms at NYA.

Part of my job is to photograph the births and lives of our wildlife. I took this photo of Tazo when he was a curious pup just a few months old. I hope that bringing out this adorable image from the archives will help the otter cause—one that has been clouded by climate change.

The New York Times made time for Tazo this week, too.

Photo credit: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

Sources: New York Aquarium, New York Times


W O R L D  R H I N O  D A Y

“My horn belongs on my head.”

Rhino numbers drop as rhino poaching numbers climb to meet the international demand for rhino horn. Rhino horn, a permanent growth made of keratin, is believed to have medicinal value in some cultures, a misconception that has caused the demise of this charismatic species. In some places, rhinos have gone extinct.

Global conservation efforts are underway to protect those that remain.

Bring your camera gear to the Bronx Zoo to photograph southern white rhinos (below) and Indian rhinos.

Photo credit: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

Sources: rhinoconservation.orgwcs.org, bronxzoo.com


A L M O S T  A U T U M N

Prospect Park Zoo’s red pandas are good Fall photo subjects. The panda’s russet red fur reminds me that the autumnal time of year is here. The first day of Fall is tomorrow.

Fall is among the best times to photograph at zoos. With cooler temperatures, animals can be more active and alert for engaging images in vivid colors.

Bring a telephoto lens, as red pandas like to spend much of the day on tree branches.

Photo credit: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS