Zoo Animals – The Best Time to Take Pictures of Animals in the Zoo! Tips and Techniques for Taking the Best Animal Photos

The Dilemma at the Zoo

You’ve taken wonderful pictures of your dog whose playful personality shone through the images. You’ve received a lot of good feedback from your friends about the photos that you took. And you are beginning to visualize yourself as a famous photographer taking stunning snapshots of wild animals during one of your safaris. But safaris are expensive. Zoo tickets, on the other hand, are affordable. A giraffe in the zoo will certainly look the same as the giraffe on the African plains. And so you packed your camera and head off to the nearest local zoo.

However, when you got there, you found that most animals are behind rocks, under tree logs, or inside their caves. You can see tails and that’s about it. The animals that you do see are barely moving, lying on the ground with their faces partly hidden. You don’t need someone else to tell you that your scheduled photo session that day is already ruined. Your subjects are not willing to cooperate. The zoo animals would have been more cooperative if you arrived at a good time. But when exactly are the best times to take pictures of zoo animals?

Feeding Time

One of the best times to take pictures of animals is 30 minutes before and during their feeding times. The animals are anticipating their food and this is why they are more active. They move around. They are extra alert. And they even make noises. Of course, the noise is not important to the lens but the animals’ antics while waiting for their food will make great shots. But when are zoo animals fed?

This will take a little research on the part of the zoo photographer. Animals are fed at different times. This means that if a photographer wants to take pictures of a particular animal, he or she must contact the zoo and ask the feeding schedule. For example, Shamba, the Gorilla at the Denver Zoo, is fed at noon time. The African Penguins, on the other hand, are fed at 10:15 am and at 3:30 pm.

Giraffe

A giraffe eating the leaves of the tree is an interesting picture

Morning or Afternoon?

If it is impossible to obtain the feeding schedule of the zoo, the best times to take pictures are in the early morning, about 7 am, or in the late afternoon, about 4 pm. During these times, the temperatures are not too hot and the animals will be moving around their cages. The heat of the sun during midday will drive many animals under the shade. There will be harsh contrasts and the pictures can be overexposed. The animals usually have their eyes closed. Noon time is nap time.

Animals at noon time

The African lion could not be bothered to get up
The Amur tigers would rather sleep
At noon, zoo photographers can only take pictures of the leopard's tail

This post is part of the series: Taking Pictures at the Zoo – Tips and Techniques

There are several things you can do to prepare yourself for taking the best pictures at the zoo. This series will provide you with tips, tricks and techniques that will have your zoo photos look like snap shots taken directly from the wild.
  1. Portrait of the Zoo Photographer – What it Takes to be a Zoo Photographer
  2. Zoo Photography Professional Etiquette – Rules You Should Follow When Taking Pictures at The Zoo
  3. Safety in the Zoo – 3 Tips on Staying Safe When Visiting the Zoo
  4. Taking Pictures at The Zoo – Camera Equipment You Need to Have
  5. Taking Pictures at the Zoo – What Not to Bring
  6. 4 Tips on Taking the Best Pictures of Zoo Animals
  7. The Best Times to Take Pictures at The Zoo
  8. 4 Tips on How to Take Pictures Through Bars and Cages at The Zoo
  9. It’s Not All About The Animals – Taking Photos at The Zoo
  10. Tips on How to Take Pictures of Zoo Animals Through Glass