Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Zoo review








Animals at the Singapore Zoo: 1st image) pangolin on the arm of a keeper, 2nd image) baby Malayan tapir, 3rd image), 3-toed sloth, 4th image) lesser mouse deer, 5th image) crocodiles, 6th image) flying foxes, 7th image) proboscis monkey.

My friend Chris and her husband Jim were world travelers until his death in 2005 and made a point of going to the zoos in their destination countries. Chris has continued the travels and the tradition, and offers - at my request - her synopses* of the zoos, aquariums, and animal parks she has visited over the years:

ABQ BIOPARK ZOO, ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO, USA
Very hard to find, poor signage, but well laid out with a good range of species. O
nly accessible via car, wheelchair rental available.

BEIJING ZOO, BEIJING, CHINA
Huge - pandas are neat to see. We were looking at the deer collection, which was extensive. Put on your walking shoes for this.

BERLIN ZOOLOGICAL GARDEN, BERLIN, GERMANY
Large variety of animals. Nocturnal animal exhibit is well done. G
ot there via public transportation, wheelchair rental available.

BOSPHORUS ZOO, ISTANBUL, TURKEY
Poorly kept, not very big. We visited this zoo in winter and were told the animals had been "sent South" for the season. The creatures that had not been relocated - including an elephant and some camels - were bedraggled. Don't make the mistake and go in the aquarium, which is just a bunch of fish tanks stacked on top of each other. It may be better in warmer weather, but I'd skip this one if I were you.

BRONX ZOO, BRONX, NEW YORK, USA
Wonderful and big
, my favorite American zoo. Cool monorail that takes you from one side to the other suspended above the zoo. A bit tricky to get to without a car, but you can take the subway and bus to the entrance. Get a map and choose what you want to see, since you can't do it all in one day. Wheelchair rentals, call in advance.

BUDAPEST ZOO AND BOTANICAL GARDEN, BUDAPEST, HUNGARY
I was here before and after it was renovated. Very nicely done, great place to spend the day. Wonderful exotic mouse exhibit. Easy to get to via metro.


DUBLIN ZOO, DUBLIN, IRELAND
Large and well-kept, with a good variety of animals. There are
meerkats on the other side of a glass wall in the cafeteria - was fun to eat and watch them watching us! Easy to get to via public bus.

DUSIT ZOO, BANGKOK, THAILAND
Located in the middle of a big public park. A very good variety of deer, which were the focus of our visit, but plenty of other Asian animals. Worth seeing, though we found the humidity a challenge.

GRADINA ZOOLOGICA BUCARESTI, BUCHAREST, ROMANIA
Bucharest, Romania - long cab ride from city center, we paid $5 in '04.
European style with some of our common animals, surprise was seeing a
furry (lamb like fur) on a pig.


MEMPHIS ZOO, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE, USA
Memphis, Tenn. - Nice, not too big. I saw it all in a few hours. Has train that goes around the whole zoo which is nice.


MOSCOW ZOO, MOSCOW, RUSSIA
Moscow, Russia - not overly big, seemed to be more birds than anything else.


MUSK OX FARM, PALMER, ALASKA, USA
The huge prehistoric animals on this musk ox preserve are fascinating to see. You can walk around and view them through the fence. They sell hats, gloves, etc., made from their undercoat, called "qiviut,"
which is warmer than wool. I've had my snood for 18 years now and love it.

NATURIS ARTIS MAGISTRA, AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS
We saw this zoo in the pouring rain. Large and well-done, though entrance fee is high.
Unlike most zoos, where the food is expensive and not too good, it has a nice cafe with a good choice of dishes.

NEW YORK AQUARIUM, BROOKLYN, NEW YORK, USA
A very nice aquarium. Easy to get to via subway.

PRAHA ZOO, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
Very hilly. There were a lot of what appeared to be domesticated chickens running around - go figure.
The metro and then a bus took us right to the entrance. Wheelchair rental.

SAN DIEGO ZOO, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA, USA
On par with the Bronx Zoo. Huge - lots of animals. Plan to spend an entire day or even 2. Worth the effort.


SANTA FE COLLEGE TEACHING ZOO, GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA, USA
College zoo where you learn to be a zookeeper. Lots of animals, but you can only go via reserved tour - worth it.

SINGAPORE ZOO, SINGAPORE, INDONESIA
The best zoo I've been in before or since. State-of-the-art exhibits, lemurs flying around overhead on wires, and the best little air-conditioned booths when the heat gets to you. Many programs, such as night visits, jungle breakfasts, lunch with lions, etc. Don't miss this one!!!
Long cab ride from the city center, but public transport is possible if you have the time.

SMITHSONIAN NATIONAL ZOOLOGICAL PARK, WASHINGTON, DC, USA
Very large.
Plan to spend the day. Accessible via metro and car, wheelchair rental.

WILLIAMS REINDEER PARK, PALMER, ALASKA, USA

Not a zoo, but a reindeer farm where you can get in the middle of the animals and pet and feed them - fun for all.

ZOO AQUARIUM DE MADRID, MADRID, SPAIN
Well kept, typical European style with iron cages. Large and wonderful wolf collection.


ZOO MIAMI, MIAMI, FLORIDA, USA
Huge - lots of animals I had never heard of, since it is a tropical climate. Was there the entire day, but saw it all.

Chris concludes, "I hope you enjoy your visit to the zoo! I have always loved animals and to this day seek out the zoo in any city. Watching animals and their behavior is fascinating. In many international zoos, you will see animals common to your own country (for Americans, porcupine, racoons, etc.). They are exotic to those folks as theirs are to us. Still, I always find it amusing to see a crowd around a opossum or some similar animal!"

*I have listed them in alphabetical order and included Chris's tips about accessibility.

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