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08(01), 07(03), 06(03), 05(02), 04(02), 03(02)
12(02), 11(01), 10(08), 09(03), 07(17), 06(01), 05(04), 04(03), 03(02), 02(02), 01(06)
12(05), 11(02), 10(01), 09(01), 08(02), 07(04), 06(01), 05(02), 04(03), 03(02), 02(02), 01(01)
12(01), 11(02), 09(09), 08(16), 07(02), 06(03), 05(04), 04(03), 02(03), 01(02)
12(03), 11(01), 10(02), 09(01), 08(23), 07(03), 06(02), 05(01), 04(02), 03(02)
12(03), 11(02), 10(01), 09(01), 08(23), 05(02)
09(04), 08(01), 06(01), 05(02), 04(02), 03(01), 02(01)
11(01), 10(02), 09(15), 08(01), 07(02), 06(04), 04(12), 01(06)
12(05), 11(01), 10(06), 09(12), 08(02), 07(02), 06(01), 05(01), 04(10), 02(01), 01(05)
12(02), 08(01), 07(15), 06(02), 05(03), 02(02), 01(03)
12(05), 11(01), 07(24), 06(06), 05(03), 04(02), 01(01)
12(01), 11(01), 10(07), 09(01), 08(04), 07(05), 06(04), 05(06), 04(01), 03(04), 02(06), 01(04)
12(04), 11(02), 10(03), 09(04), 08(03), 07(04), 04(01)
07(01), 05(01)
08(01)
10(01)

Sat, 05 Sep 2015
hiking in vienna (0 comments)
we did another test hike before our next holidays, this time in the area of lainz. i got myself shiny new hiking shoes, so it was time to see if they fit. we started the hike at the nikolai gate, and walked through cooling woods and over big green meadows.
we soon arrived at the wienerblick view point[04-11], where one really has a wonderful view over vienna. we took a little break and some selfies up there too.
then we walked on, passed the rohrhaus, and came to the hermes cafe[25-46], a big old huge building with an even bigger garden around it. the cafe was well attended, and there even seemed to be a wedding reception going on.
we circled the hermes cafe, and then went on hiking eastwards. so far i was very pleased with my new hiking shoes, no sores, no blisters.
we made an exit from the park at the lainzer gate, where we took a bus that took us back to the city. we were surprised that only a few minutes drive with the tram it seemed like we were in the country, not in a city anymore. and so we decided to go hiking more often, from now on.

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Thu, 23 Jul 2015
wolf photo shooting at the wolf science center (0 comments)
we tried a new zoo; this time the zoo in ernstbrunn. the wolf science center in particular, as we had a photo shooting with wolves there. we had already booked that in february, and have been looking forward to that ever since. it was a very hot day (as so many this summer), and we were instructed beforehand to wear long trousers, solid shoes and a t-shirt, nothing to be made of wool or leather. after a short introduction for the small group of nine people we started with the first part[001-036] of the day. we entered the first enclosure of the "black pack". the pack consists of five members, namely chitto, shima, tala eristoff and two males called aragorn and kaspar; but the two were not allowed to join us. to get to know each other we were given little snacks for the wolves that we could hide in the area. as soon as we were done the wolves were let out (or actually in), and ran through the enclosure, sniffing at everything and everyone.
at first of course only the treats were interesting and all the animals were busy finding the good stuff. once this was done, they approached the human visitors. they had their own code for "hey, don't stand around, pet me" or "noop, no touchy", which were deciphered for us by the staff. but most of them were in a good mood, so we got to pet a lot of wolf fur. after a while one of them even started to lick me, which is (like for dogs) the wolf way of saying "hey there". unfortunately it took me too long to respond to that friendly gesture appropriately because the wolf was already heading on to the next visitor, while i was still overwhelmed by the wet friendliness. but i was very, very honored, because i was the only one who got licked in the face by a wolf that day (according to nina, this was only because i look like a wolf).
part two[037-112] was about action shots with the same pack members. we all moved to a different area of the pretty huge enclosure where the wolves were supposed to run through the bushes. there are several enclosures for the wolves at the game park ernstbrunn, two of them 8000 square metres, and another two of them with 4000 square metres each. so plenty of space for the animals.
the wolves had loads of fun, and once they were done running, they lay down panting and took a little rest. they rested only a few metres away from us, so a good opportunity to shoot some more pictures.
then we left this enclosure and the "black pack", and returned to the base. there i switched my lens to a tele-lens. unfortunately you are allowed to only bring your camera with the lens on it to the wolves, nothing more. no rucksack, no telephones, no dangling things like tassels or straps, as the wolves might easily use all that to play with and pull you around or chew it to death. after all, they are pretty massive and strong, and the staff told us about several destroyed items, like mobile phones, and such. by the way, you are not allowed to wear gloves in winter. for the third part[113-195] we entered the enclosure of geronimo's pack, consisting of geronimo, yukon and wamblee. unfortunately wamblee was not allowed to join us, as he was nervous around visitors lately. the people at the WSC really try to be on the very safe side - for humans and wolves. so if they feel there might be troubles with a wolf, they keep the animal out of the enclosure while the people are in there. i guess they would do the same with humans if they felt like there could be any threat or risk - but none of our group was excluded. i also would have liked to have wamblee included as he was one of the black/gray timber wolves, and i find them more beautiful and interesting than the white ones. but meeting geronimo and yukon was also a very exquisite experience. the two wolves were very different from the other ones in the "black pack". more shy, a little more cautious; hardly getting close to the visitors, not seeking any close contact or coming close to get touched.
but they had their fun with a sprinkler in a dried up pond. or at least geronimo had. yukon was a lady at first, trying not to get wet. but soon she also enjoyed the cooling water and jumped into the spray. all members of the human pack watched with envy.
after a while the wolves kept more and more distance to us, and the staff sensed some kind of nervousness amongst the two wolves. so - again for safety for wolf and human - they decided we should better leave them alone to keep the stress level to a minimum.
after that we had a break to get something to drink and eat (remember, you are not allowed to bring anything to the wolves, so we were pretty thirsty and also a little hungry, as the wolves got tons of treats and we got nothing). fed, refreshed, and after a short after-dinner walk through other parts of the game park ernstbrunn[194-195] we started with part four[196-199] of the day. this time the pack was not a wolven one, but a dog pack, namely the "nia pack", consisting of nia, gombo, and sahibu. the wsc keeps dog packs to in order to compare them to the wolf pack. their research is all about cooperation, intellectual strategies, all within the pack but also while interacting with human beings. so they keep the dogs the same way they keep the wolves, with the same training and tests. all the dogs of the "nia pack" were overwhelmed by a massive amount of joy to see the staff and more new people they could get to play with. in fact they were close to being hyper active, they were trying to lick anyone's face that got close to their tongue. i think no member of the human pack was prepared for that, so everyone was like standing there frozen, because the dogs would instantly slap their tongues into your face as soon as you would reach down to pet them. only nina was brave enough to risk crouching down; within a few seconds she was rewarded with a clean face and ears. since no one else could really cope with such an overdose of friendliness by the super happy dogs, we went on to the last part of the day, and left the cute dogs again.
the fifth part[200-251] was real fun. we were brought to the enclosure of the "nanuk pack" (aka the "white pack"), with nanuk and una as members. here we took some action shots with the two wolves. they were running right towards the human pack. while that looked real great in real, my camera gear and i are not really well suited for this kind of shooting. almost all shots were out of focus and blurry, thus unusable to end up in the gallery; and the remaining ones also were not sharp. oh well, i might have to train that one day - maybe.
both wolves really were so cute and adorable. especially nanuk, who was so eager to get to the people to get cuddled, and who so much enjoyed sniffing people and taking in their scent as much as possible, which meant he rubbed his body on every person being near him. again this gave a little insight into how strong those graceful creatures actually are. another highlight was the "portrait shooting". each participant could get a picture with nanuk right next to him or her. while nanuk was more happy with the tons of treats he got, everyone kneeling right beside him had fun. nanuk did not get tired of giving the paw and sitting right next to all the people. he really is a gentle soul. una unfortunately was rather shy, and stuck more to the staff people, she already knew and was familiar with.
once everyone had their picture with nanuk taken, we returned to the "black pack" again, but this time we did not enter the enclosure, but waited right outside the fence to witness a special reward for the animals. this time kaspar and aragorn joined in too. chitto, shima, tala eristoff, kaspar, and aragorn got ice lollipops. this meant meat and blood frozen and then attached to trees with metal chains, so the wolves could lick and bite it, and cool off a bit.
and it seemed they really liked that and had had that already quite often, because they knew what was awaiting them. so happily each wolf worked on their iced lolly - and again all members of the human pack were pretty envious.
to get in touch with real wolves - without a fence (or car door windows as it was in canada) is really an impressive experience. it was also astonishing to see that each wolf has its own character, moods, quirks, and fetishes. so if you ever get the opportunity to go to the wolf science center - do it. we really recommend it. you also get a good insight into the research work the scientists there are doing. furthermore it is interesting to see where there are similarities between dog and wolf, and where not. a total of 797 photos were shot by me this day, 290 made it to the online gallery - enjoy the gallery.

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Sat, 09 May 2015
a visit to the botanical garden and zoo hirschstetten (0 comments)
we tried out a new zoo - isn't that amazing? this time it is not zoo schoenbrunn as usual, but this time it is the lovely botanic garden in hirschstetten, that also houses a little zoo in its huge grounds. first surprise was that the admission was free. inside there are several theme gardens like the mexican garden (where a birthday party in a pavilion was going on), the wedding garden (where a wedding in a pavilion was going on), the indian and chinese garden (where... nothing special was going on, but they both had a pavilion too), and much, much more, like a palm house and a huge maze[071-073].
but we concentrated on the zoo part first. we spotted loads of turtles[001-005,060-061], some storks[062-063], a lonely ural owl[068], two apiaries[065-067], a pair of colourful lady amherst's pheasants[075-076], and cute little ducklings[077-085].
and as beautiful, impressive and amazing this all was, it was not the reason we came here - no, no. in the newspaper we read about wildcat cubs that should be in the zoo. so we thought it is time to - enormously - raise the cat content on the internet. at our first stop[006-059] we almost only spotted the mother; the cubs kept in the background, where they were hard to spot, and even harder to capture. but we got there just right at feeding time, so the mother dragged all the dead rats back to her little ones. unfortunately they kept on staying in the back of the enclosure and disappeared entirely, while feeding. so we decided to come back later, in the hope that they will be awake then.
and we were lucky; nearly two hours later we returned and found the entire family out, near the fence. although the tomcat was always chased off by the mother (we got the impression she was on heat again, and thus driving the poor tomcat crazy), the kitties played happily with the mother and each other. chasing and biting mother's tail seemed to be the preferred leisure time activity of the cubs.
for a very long time all four cubs were happily running around and playing, like kitties are supposed to be. they also were remarkable climbers, considering they all were only two months old. climbing the little bushes, the trunks, and the wooden suspension bridges they had in their enclosure was no problem to them at all - very impressive.
the botanical garden and zoo hirschstetten is really a wonderful place, with great plants and animals, but currently most of all a place with four kittens full of of cuteness overload. definitely a place to go to. we will return here again as - of course - we want to see how the kittens grow up, but also because we missed to see the palm house and other areas of the garden this time. so i am pretty sure there will be more to come from hirschstetten soon...

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Sun, 08 Feb 2015
another zoo: aqua terra zoo (0 comments)
today we tried out the aqua terra zoo, as we both have not been visiting this zoo for over several years. the last time i was here, was eight years ago; nina has not been here for even longer. it was a sunday, the weather was not too good, and the minute we walked through the entrance door, we knew this would be a day in the crowd. what we did not remember, was how small and narrow the corridors and passageways were, which made the crowd even more crowded. and so, after we made it past the cash desk and into the top floor, we decided to take a break from all the people and went to the rooftop cafe[01], enjoyed a coffee and the amazing view. better prepared at what will await us, we finally made the descent through the hoards of people. and we were rewarded with wonderfully colourful fish[02-09], and other, not so colourful fish[11-14].
in a huge tank they also had sharks[10,31,37-40,45] and some big rays[15-16], that look like they are smiling when you see their underside. unfortunately no picture i made of that turned out to be in focus.
beautiful and a tiny bit of disconcerting are the nautilus[30], and the jellyfish[82-85]. same applies for the starfish[86-87], the sea cucumber[88], and the sea anemones[89-90], although the latter two we already had touched in canada in the aquarium in ucluelet; so they were not so strange to us anymore.
more familiar were all the reptiles they had there, like the tiny chameleon[17-18], the gila monster[21-22], geckos[23-29], and iguanas[51-54].
in the "tropic house" section of the building there are loads of birds, like the superb starling[63-66,74], the java sparrow[55-56], the violet starling[67], and the impressive yellow-beaked hornbill[57-62].
very, very cute were the cuddling flying foxes[72-73] - too bad i could not get closer to them, as they were hanging way out of reach of the visitors. less shy were the lovely little common marmosets[68-71] and cotton-top tamarins[77-81]. they even came so close, that some visitor could even feed them.
spread all over the floors were even more reptiles[94-100] and snakes[92-93]. the reptiles look pretty dehydrated, as if their skin is way too big for the rest of the body. but i guess it is ok this way. again and yet again, i am fascinated by snake-skin.
so, the aqua terra zoo is pretty amazing, but way too crowded on weekends. thus, the next time we will go there will be during the week, in the hope that there will be less people. nonetheless, it is highly recommendable to go there, as it is really interesting and fun to see the animals there (especially the flying foxes).

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Sun, 14 Jul 2013
zoo haag with nina (0 comments)
nina said she had a surprise for me this weekend. but thanks to the google bar on her browser, which still showed the last search she did, i figured out we would go to the zoo haag. because they have lynx and lion cubs there - aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw! so we drove by train to stadt haag, then went on by foot to the zoo. ah, if you happen to have the "zoo card" (which gives discount on entry, zoo shop items, etc. in zoos all over austria and is for free if you have the zoo schoenbrunn year pass) show it, as you get free entrance in haag too - what a nice surprise, as it said nowhere on the pricing information board, and we hoped to get one or two euros off the price with the zoo card. and so we headed straight for the lion cage and found all four cubs[010-072] sleeping and cuddling. sooooooooooooooo cute! all of them. soon it got too hot for them, so they moved to the shadows. but their we couldn't see them that good anymore, so we moved on to the five lynx cubs[074-102]. but unfortunately they were also positioned in a way that we couldn't really get a good look on them. but once in a while a little lynx cub head was popping up and looking at us. aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, also so cute!
then it was time for a break from all this cuteness, so we went on and had a look at all the other animals at the zoo, like bears, donkeys, deer, crows and ravens, etc.
it seemed like the zoo only mentioned the lion cubs on their website and in local newspapers, but not the lynx cubs, as most of the visitors didn't know about them. it was getting pretty hot now in the zoo, so we took a little break, had a coffee and a snack, to once more return to the lion cubs[161-282]. this time they were awake and quite active, nibbling at each other, or mother's tail, ears, or whatever they got in their tiny mouth. it was so much fun to watch them (that's why we took millions of pictures of them. a small collection is what you can see at the online gallery). thanks nina for the "surprise" - what a day of cuteness overload!

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Sat, 14 Aug 2010
tyrol and alpine zoo in innsbruck (0 comments)
been to tyrol and innsbruck today to meet with a friend of mine. since the weather was perfect we decided to go to the alpine zoo[01-68] in innsbruck. bears, vultures, eagles, lynxes, chamois, moose, bison, and loads of other animals.
i preferred the lynxes though. so cute, and with two small new born family members.
later we also did a small sightseeing tour[69-89] through innsbruck. the golden roof[69-70,84-85] of course, and we climbed the stadtturm to get a fabulous view[71-87] over the town.
what a wonderful trip...

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Mon, 26 Oct 2009
zoo altenfelden (0 comments)
seems it's becoming some kind of tradition to go to some zoo around the 26th of october every year. this year it was with jake, andrea, and sonja, going to altenfelden.
as usual loads of cute animals like leopards, deer, zebras, ermine, and loads of totally cute racoons. so cute!

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Sun, 24 Jun 2007
wrapping up the past: mirjam's horses and zoo altenfelden (0 comments)
as my faithful readers already know, chicks dig... horses. yes, they really do! another example of this thesis is mirjam. she even has two horses. so, one day zombiequeen and i have been invited to go with mirjam to her horses. i had the honourable task of taking photos - yep, what else. so, on the 21st of april 2007 we drove to saint florian to the horse stable. there were several girls combing, petting, feeding, and riding their horses. zombiequeen and i had our bikes with us, so while mirjam was riding her horses we were riding our bikes. mirjam's horses in st.florian
it was another warm and sunny april day when we got to the zoo in altenfelden for the first time. there are two routes one can go. the short one takes two hours, the other longer one takes three hours. i guess this is estimated for very old people or families, since the two hour tour we took this day, took as way shorter and we were going at a really very low speed. since it was friday afternoon there were only a few people visiting the zoo. this came in extremely handy, as the animals were not pissed off by visitors and therefore spent their time in their outdoor, rather than in their roofed enclosures. especially the pumas were in a very good mood so i could take loads of pictures of them. unfortunately, after several minutes of being really very close to them - there were only about three or four metres between us - one of the two pumas got bored and started to hiss at us. pretty scary to hear a real hiss, not the cute 'chhhhhhr' from the little cat called lilo we have at home. as we are cat-lovers, zombiequeen and i of course went on, leaving the pumas, resting in the sun, behind. zoo in altenfelden
this zoo is really great, the enclosures have reasonable sizes, the admission is fair, and the amount of animals is really big. additionally it is a nice walk in nature, since all the animals are spread over a large area. we intended to come back to take the three hour tour soon... coming up next in the "wrapping up the past:"-series: pictures from the aist-tal and a picnic in the prater.

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Sun, 22 Oct 2006
zoo walding (0 comments)
today zombiequeen and i enjoyed a warm, sunny, and beautiful autumn-day in walding. they have a zoo there, unfortunately not as big as we both expected or were hoping. elephants, sheeps, goats, birds, monkeys, ocelot, cats, pigs, ducks, rabbits, alpacas, zebras, camels, llamas, and some others i forgot to mention here. we also wanted to see the tiger and the puma they had there, but unfortunately both of them died recently (december and november, most probably 2005?). afterwards we drove to aschach, drank a coffee and took a walk at the riverside of the danube. there we had fun skimming some stones, and doing some hobby ornithology. black-white llama // ocelot (purring)
more pics are available here.

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Fri, 24 Feb 2006
snowboarding in kirchberg, tyrol (0 comments)
a four day holiday trip to kirchberg in tyrol with zombiequeen, her sister and her sister's husband, from the 20th to the 24th of february 2006. day_01: we went to "wildbichl" to visit a zoo there, but unfortunately the zoo was closed this day. damn, we went there by car about an hour, just to see the lynxes. bad luck. instead we ended up shopping in kufstein, which was pretty ok. day_02: yippieh, snowboarding on the "pengelstein". it was quite exhaustive for all of us, since we all had a massive lack of endurance and power. but it was great fun. day_03: this time snowboarding in "westendorf", but unfortunately without zombiequeen, since she had to do some stuff for the university. this day i had two really bad falls, so (nearly) all my bones hurt. that's why i set the last ski-run aside and took the cable railway instead - much more comfortable. day_04: on our way home we stopped at the zoo in wildbichl again, this time it was really opened - yahooo, we saw the lynx! especially funny and cute were the coypus, the wild boars and the snowy owl. the zoo itself is not really big (see the map here), but it was definitely worth the little detouring. thanks to zombiequeen (her elder sissy and her elder sissie's husband) for all the fun and joy i had during these days.

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Sun, 18 Sep 2005
zoo. (0 comments)
been to the zoo yesterday with zombiequeen. we went to the zoo in schmiding. though it was raining all the time, loads of animals were outdoor (out of their indoor-cages that is). see a few pix of those lovely creatures here. furthermore there is a small museum included in the zoo-area too. we went there to stay away from the rain for a few mins. thanks to zombiequeen for this beautiful day.

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