I’ll never forget how I felt when Stella the jaguar stared into my eyes as I photographed her in the Big Cat Country building at the Milwaukee County Zoo. There weren’t many people at the Zoo that day as there had been a snow storm the day before that dropped several inches of snow. The parking lot and paths were shoveled and plowed at the Zoo, though, so it was easy enough for me to walk around. I just had to tolerate the cold air.
I had come into Big Cat Country to warm up and look around. It seemed as if Stella was waiting for me to arrive for her photoshoot. She looked so peaceful and calm and as I looked through the camera lens and saw her looking back into my eyes, my heart stopped for just a moment. She is such a beautiful jaguar!
Just less than 2 years later, I was at the Milwaukee County Zoo again and inside the Big Cat House. The zoo was introducing the 2 Siberian Tiger cubs, Tula and Nuri. Their mother, Amba, looked quite ferocious with her big teeth. It felt quite different to look through my lens to see her staring back at me.
But look at her beautiful cub! Such beautiful markings, just like her mama. Wouldn’t you just love to reach out and touch that fur to see if it’s as soft as it looks?
While the crowd was admiring Amba and her cubs, I crossed to the other side of the Big Cat Country building to visit with Stella. I found her sitting calmly and waiting for my arrival to photograph her in all her awesome beauty. The year was 2009 and she was about 5 years old. It might be the camera angle, but she looks like she lost a bit of weight in that 2 years.
While her gaze appears a bit more peaceful than Amba’s, it was a bit more scary than when I saw her 2 years before when we were practically the only ones in the building. It still gave me a thrill of fear to look through my lens to see her staring back at me.
Stella will always have a special place in my heart.
To see other images of Amba and Stella, please visit my website, Beautiful Sun Photography. All images are for sale in a variety of different size prints or as photo gifts.