A zoo photographer need not worry about getting lost in the jungle or defending against wild animals that suddenly leap from behind the bushes. But this does not mean that the zoo is entirely safe. It is, after all, a place where wild animals are kept.
The nature of the zoo
One of the major advantages of going to the zoo instead of joining the safari is safety. The zoo photographer is less likely to be attacked by wild animals than the nature photographer who is out exploring the African plains. The zoo photographer is protected by zoo structures that separate wild animals from the zoo visitors. There are glasses, bars, cages, walls, and artificial moats. But there are also instances when these glasses and bars can be broken and the walls can be surmounted. People get hurt. And during such instances, people need to remember that the animals kept in the zoo are wild. The zoo, without the man-made structures, is just as dangerous as the jungle or the savanna. Thus, the zoo photographer must always keep in mind a few safety tips.
Safety Tip #1: Keep the wild in mind
The photographer should not allow the whimsical assumption that the zoo animals are trying to be “cute" when they stand against the glass or pace around their cage, or lick their paws. The wild animals are not thinking about putting on a show for the innocently eager spectators. These animals are most likely eager to taste meat. Even zookeepers make sure that the wild animals are placed securely in a cell before they would even enter the enclosure to place food. Otherwise, the animals are likely to attack the zookeepers. This is why it is a mistake for parents to allow their children to think that the zoo animals can become pets. For example, most zoos allow peacocks to roam freely. But these birds are not tamed or trained. The peacocks will act based on their instincts, and if a peacock feels that its territory is threatened, it can attack.
Safety Tip #2: Stick to zoo rules and safety precautions
The zoo has rules and safety precautions posted all over the grounds. Most of them warn against getting too close to the fences or inserting the hand through the bars and cages. Some of them warn against climbing over barriers, using skateboards and bicycles, playing with toys, such as Frisbees, and bringing alcohol. These rules are posted specifically for the safety of the zoo visitors. And these rules are also placed on the websites of the zoos. The zoo photographer must heed such rules. For example, it is not a good idea to place the lens of the camera through a fence just to get a close-up picture of the animal.
Safety Tip #3: Practice receptive photography
As opposed to being proactive, the zoo photographer must be more receptive. The zoo photographer must never taunt any animal to force it to move in a manner that may produce good pictures. Good pictures of the zoo animals can be taken if the photographer is patient, alert, and receptive to the moods of the reluctant models.