Buenos Aires, Argentina
The Buenos Aires Zoo opened its doors to the public over a century ago in 1889. At that time, most zoos had in mind only the mission of displaying the most exotic creatures they could acquire for the sake of the visitors viewing enjoyment. The founders of this zoo thought differently, and from its inception there has been a degree of social and humanitarian responsibility woven in to the mission of the zoo. The zoo was designed both to showcase animals in their native surroundings but also to capture some of the history and architectural style of the people who come from that region on well. There are restored works of art, replicas of famous monuments, Corinthian style columns, and even Indian “ruins”. There is even a practice of caring for the old trees on the property, as they have inherent value and provide the best shade!
Once a guest has entered through the “Triumph Arch of Tito”, a replica of a famous arch in Rome, a guest is presented with the unique opportunity of purchasing food. Not people food, although that is available throughout the zoo, but animal food. At this zoo, a guest can purchase food to feed various animals throughout their visit, and maybe even be able to sneak in a pet of an outstretched head. The animals that can accept the treats include elephants, alpacas, monkeys, camels, deer, and zebra.
Another unique offering of the Buenos Aires Zoo is the chance to rent a “mateo”, or horse drawn carriage, from which to view the exhibits. The zoo is not extremely large though, at 45 acres, and during the walk along the lush pathways, there are many local animals to encounter, including all types of native birds and rodents.
One of the most impressive exhibits features an animal a long way from home, the Great Polar bear. Visitors can watch the polar bears swim in their large pool from the surface, or go down to view them from “underwater”. Other favorite exhibits include the giraffe enclosure, where there are 12 animals, including a few males that fight for dominance by smacking their long necks against one another. There is also a very close up experience at the elephant enclosure, and the elephants share their home with ancient Indian “ruins”. The backdrop of these vine covered relics make for great photo opportunities. While visiting, guests may notice that one of the elephants in the exhibit makes repetitive movements and seems different. That is because Mara, the only Asian elephant in the zoo, was rescued from a circus and had been traumatized by her previous keepers. Although safe, she seems to still have emotional scars from her past life, but the other two elephants, Pupy and Kuki, seem to do their best to take care of her.
Continuing with the theme of weaving cultural experiences in with the animal experience, guests will find camels moving about a Moroccan Arch, and kangaroos surrounded by aboriginal paintings. The lions, the great kings of the forest, live in their “castle” surrounded by an actual moat. Other animals to see include but aren’t limited to cheetahs, jaguars, a rare albino tiger, and many species of indigenous monkeys.