These are just my own opinions, so please consider them as such...
Generally when it comes to zoo photography, I like to see 1 of 2 things...either the animal looking at the camera (as in something that would make a "portrait"), or at the very least, seeing the animal doing something interesting. I don't wish to sound rude at all, but to me, those shots really look like they were taken in passing, as though the person taking the pictures was just running from one exhibit to the next, trying to see everything (perhaps being dragged along by the kids or something). At the risk of being horribly blunt, to me, such shots just aren't that interesting. Sometimes, when your on vacation for example, this is unavailable, however whenever possible, I suggest taking some time to spend with a given animal (or given group of animals) to get better shots.
At the risk of hijacking the thread here, this is what I'm talking about...
With the shots above, it really was about "waiting for the moment". Remember that just like people, animals have their own personalities, so it helps if you can capture some of the uniqueness of a given critter, especially with facial expressions and such.
Most of the time when I go to a zoo, I'll pick a few select animals (or groups of animals) to visit and sometimes I'll even spend as long as 2 to 3 hours (or more), just watching 1 animal (or group)...and waiting. Obviously if a given animal (or group) is sleeping, I'll move on, but this way instead of running around being a "tourist", I can usually walk away with some pretty decent shots. In short - I try to plan ahead. For example, "Today I'll shoot the lions, giraffes and polar bears..."...if the given animal isn't on my list, unless something specific catches my attention, I'll simply stick to the list.
Now with all of that said, I would add that I do plan "photo trips" and "family outings" separately. I still take my camera with me on the family outings...sometimes I do get lucky...but such days are about spending with my family. The photo days, I usually just go by myself so I can simply "focus" on the critters (slight pun intended).
Anyways, again I'm sorry for hijacking the thread and I honestly hope hat didn't sound too rude, however I think with a bit more time and patience, you might have walked away with some much better shots.
Again, just my own opinions...please use them for what they are worth to you.
(btw...in case anyone's interested, the shots I posted were taken at the Cleveland, Akron and Toledo Zoos)
Thanks Jim, your partly right. There was no animal activity that day, hardly anyone there, and I was by myself. It was a pretty lame zoo (Syracuse) for the most part. I think the zoo was winding down it's season. I went to NY on business and had a day and a half to spare. Not much to photograph really. It doesn't help that I am a photography noob either. There was a pro photographer there that day doing a shoot at the zoo for next year's literature. That was the highlight for me just talking to him. He even said this was not the time of year to be a tourist there.