Strange encounters of the zoological kind
Odin the Bengal tiger at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. (Nancy Chan)
New Yorkers, and the rest of the world, waited with bated breath last month to hear the fate of the “escaped” Bronx Zoo Cobra.
Though the creature (now named Mia, after the acronym MIA, Missing in Action) was finally found hiding in the Reptile House after a six-day search, there are plenty of other abnormal animal experiences to slither up to:
Cuddle a lion cub or cosy up to a cheetah
At the controversial Zoo Lujan in Argentina, visitors are occasionally allowed inside the enclosures of lions, tigers, bears and other predators, as long as they pay an extra fee and sign a waiver. Though no serious accidents have been reported, a petition to disallow the practice has been circulated online.
Smell a flesh-rotting scented plant
Okay, so it's not an animal, but the new Voodoo Lily at the Minnesota Zoo emits a stench so bad, you might mistake it for a dead one. The smell attracts flies as a trick to spread its pollen, but since it starting blooming last week, it is attracting human visitors who wonder what all the stink is about.
Check out cross-eyed creatures
Heidi the possum isn't even on display yet, but photos of her irresistibly cute cross-eyes have garnered her worldwide fans. She'll be on view starting 11 July at Zoo Leipzig in Germany, but in the meantime, you can see Frank, the cross-eyed Jaguarundi, just north at the Tiergarten Delitzsch zoo, in Berlin.
Watch a white tiger underwater
As if a white tiger weren't rare enough, the Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, California has an underwater viewing area where you can watch Odin the Bengal tiger fold back his ears and close his nostrils as he dives for fresh, bloody meat. Watch a whole repertoire of tiger tricks at Odin's Temple of the Tiger show.
Meet the monkeys... then lose your sunglasses
In the monkey exhibit at the London Zoo, where no barrier separates the creatures from visitors, the Bolivian squirrel monkeys have taken to snatching visitors sunglasses to admire themselves in the lenses' reflection.
Discover a Zedonk
Pippi, the baby of a donkey and zebra, made international headlines last year with her striped legs and brownish body. Celebrate her first birthday at the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve in north Georgia on 21 July.