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Page 5 Ashley Hockenberry

Written By onci on Thursday, December 24, 2009 | 12:04 AM



Wildlife Photography in Captivity by Ashley Hockenberry

The ideal scenario for any wildlife photographer is to be able to capture excellent images of birds and animals in a natural setting in the wild. And most of us who are nature photographers do exactly that. However, it is not always possible to photograph all of the species we would like to photograph in the areas and in the climate in which we live.

If you live in Canada or the United States, photographing a lion, gorilla or giraffe requires a trip either to Africa or to the local zoo. Perhaps many of us will not be able to make an African trip in our lifetime and we would still like to photograph these animals. What do you do in such cases, where you really enjoy a particular species and would love to photograph it but do not have the opportunity to do so? Photographing animals in captivity provides a solution to this.



Captive animals, whether in zoos or private wildlife sanctuaries can serve a number of purposes:
• Often these animals are injured and they would not survive in the wild, so they need a safe place away from predators
• the educational value they provide to children and adults
• the opportunity to see a species you would never otherwise be able to see and experience

Another benefit of captive wildlife photography is that it enables you to get up close with animals you would never be able to approach in the wild. It would be very difficult to get within close enough proximity to capture images of a polar bear, lion, tiger, or venomous snake.

Also to be considered is the amount of time you would invest to find some native species such as an owl or a wolf in a natural habitat versus the opportunity to photograph them in captivity. Most of us are lucky to even see some of the more rare species, let alone get a great, close up, in-focus photograph of a perfectly posed animal in a wild setting.

The “captive alternative” also means that we can photograph animals and birds without interfering with their natural habitat, disturbing sensitive nesting or breeding environments or participating in other tactics such as baiting and herding in order to get quality images. It demonstrates a respect for wildlife and an appreciation for the creatures we photograph.
Where do you start? There are all kinds of places if you look – zoos, wildlife preserves, private sanctuaries, etc. Often these places will not only encourage photography, but will also allow private groups to come in “after hours” for a fee to photograph specific species.

Finally, the beauty of the images we are sharing create an awareness of the natural world we all must try to protect.

Ashley Hockenberry
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