Butterfly eyespot

Have you ever seen a butterfly with coloring on its wing that looks like an eye and wondered why the butterfly looked like that? I have. The obvious answer is that is it a defense mechanism, intended to make potential predators question whether it is really a butterfly they are seeing or something larger that may want to make the predator the prey. This is a large part of the function of the eyespot, but it is also believed to play a role in courtship as well. If you want to know more, you can read all about the evolutionary significance of eyespots in butterflies here. Anyway, the photo of this butterfly was taken at the Mexico City Zoo.

Butterfly with a large eyespot on the trunk of a tree

It’s all in the eyes

The secret to any good animal photo, whether it’s a bird, giraffe, monkey, or dog, is making sure that the eyes are in focus and properly exposed. Since animals usually move around however they want and don’t necessarily pose for the camera, that can be a problem. But, as Rick Sammon says, if the eyes aren’t in focus and properly exposed, you’ve missed the shot. And let me tell you, I’ve missed the shot plenty of times. But it’s our failures that make us appreciate our successes, right? Personally, I also prefer animal photos where the animal’s eyes are focused on something away from the camera. The photo of this big cat was taken at Chapultepec Zoo in Mexico City.

Black and white photo of a spotted leopard with its face partly hidden by a tree branch.

Surprised Spotted Leopard

This is another photo I took at the Milwaukee County Zoo. I’m not sure what the leopard was looking at, but the surprised look on its face was priceless. Since all of the big cats are in enclosures that keep them a relatively large distance from people or with a thick layer of glass between the animals and people, it can be hard to get a good photo of them. Luckily, my timing on this photo was good.

Photo of a spotted leopard with its mouth open at the Milwaukee County Zoo

Circular Seal


Zoos are a great place to take photos, especially if you are patient enough to wait for the animal you are trying to photograph to strike the right pose. Of course, they don’t always cooperate but when they do the results can be great. And photographing monkeys, zebras, giraffes, seals, penguins, and otters at the zoo is a lot easier and cheaper than photographing those animals in the wild for those of us without unlimited time and money. In addition, the money spent at a zoo goes towards educational programs, enrichment for the animals, and conservation efforts.

Oceans of Fun

This photo was taken during the Oceans of Fun Seal & Sea Lion Show at the Milwaukee County Zoo. The show was both entertaining and educational and when one of the seals did this circular pose, it seemed like the perfect time to get a photo.

Photo of a seal striking a circular pose with their tail touching the side of their face