Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Z for zoo

The last time I went to a zoo was probably around 15 years back and truth be told I didn’t really enjoy it. Seeing all those animals kept for public display in brutally small cages / enclosures in the Trivandrum zoo left a bad taste in my mouth (for the record, it has apparently improved drastically since then) which added to my aversion to zoos and circuses. In fact I dislike circuses with performing animals more than most things but that’s another story.

However my weekend visit to the Mysore zoo has changed my perception on the whole thing. It is one of India’s better known zoos and for good reason. It boasts of large enclosures for most of the animals & on several occasions I felt like I put was in the middle of a NatGeo episode as I observed the birds, animals and reptiles up close. I loved watching the ring tailed lemur (the Madagascar guys) prancing around almost as much as I enjoyed standing between two cages containing a pair of blue and gold macaws in one and scarlet macaws in the other while trying to decide which pair was more beautiful. Still haven’t been able to figure that one out. There was a giraffe with lovely dark spots which we were fortunate enough to get a good glimpse of, which was truly spellbinding.
The humongous Gaur did cause us to wonder how many pieces of steak we could extract from just one of them(a second Madagascar reference). Probably enough to feed a small village considering the size of those massive fellows. Pictures cannot do justice to . Another contender to the deceptively massive throne was the rhino that was content on munching away to glory oblivious to the milling crowds.
As amazing as the experience was, I couldn’t help but notice that the entire purpose of the zoo was lost somewhere. I believe open air zoos bring people face to face with animals in a replication of what their natural habitat is and more importantly, in the process educates you and me.
What reptile is this ?
And yet, people went “Crocodile, crocodile” whenever they saw alligators or gharials or crocodiles (Did you just realise that you don’t know the difference either?). Every snake that was seen was called a cobra and all the different monkeys were called chimpanzees. You get the picture.

In honour of the Mysore Zoo Ive decided to institute the Neilsrandomramblings blog Zoo awards. Future trips to zoos will result in new winners and possibly new awards. Without any further ado, here are the winners
The awwwww so cute moment of the day : Spotting a baby hippo swimming next to it mom, its tiny snout just about visible above the water. Enough to make even the hardest heart melt.
The dumb schmuck moment of the day : A woman slipping through the barricade to get a closer view of the baby hippo and its mama. Someone should’ve pushed her into the mud pool where the hippos were cooling off.
Roll eyes moment of the day : Hearing the crowd behind us explode and turning around to see that they were buzzing because one of the peacocks flew over them. Hearing the noise one wouldve thought that they spotted an escaped lion or something.
Most enjoyable moment of the day : Watching the truly majestic tiger make a u-turn and walk slowly away from us only to hear a small kid next to me plead to her mom “Ingote veraan para (tell it to come here) ” while pointing to the tiger.

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