Monday, February 20, 2012


Wandering through the Bellavista barrio this past week, I stumbled upon a sign for the Zoo in Cerro San Cristobal.  "Why not?"  I thought to myself, checking my pocket for my camera.  (One of the joys of working a rigorous 7 pm to 9 pm daily schedule is I'm able to squeeze in little side journeys like this.) 

Ugh.  I already hate the start to this blog.  Let's just plow ahead.

The zoo at the base of Cerro San Cristobal is not your typical American zoo.  In fact, this is actually one of the places where it was most obvious to me we weren't in a first world country.  Normally, when I'm on the street, it is largely difficult to say that we're in a 3rd world country.  There are more street vendors than you might normally see, and the buildings aren't as tall as in the US, but the place is kept quite clean, and the people wandering around Providencia generally look like they have money.  But at the zoo...

At the zoo, it was clear that this country's PETA chapter was either A) lazy or B) nonexistent. The smaller animals all had quite small cages, with glass windows smudged over by countless little hands and noses pressed up against them.  The bigger animals had it a bit better, but it still wasn't up to US standards in terms of artificial environment.  For example, the elephant pen:
They had a oscillating sprinkler running in the background, and that's about it.  The elephants themselves were pretty majestic though, it's been a while since I've seen one of them in person.

Next up on the tour was the tiger cage.  It was further up the hill, and thus better shaded from the public.  The tigers themselves were hiding from sight, so I took the opportunity to evaluate the cage in which they were held.  This is the "extra tight, dangerous animal inside" fence employed by the park:
Really?  This is your "Death Machine" level of preparedness?  Thank goodness any animal would have to pass 2 major highways, a river, and tens of hot dog stands before they made it to my building.

After this part, there was a walk-in aviary which was pretty cool.  They had a light sprinkle running inside nonstop, so it was a welcome reprieve from the sun's assault.  There were a couple spots where people gathered to look at birds, but I quickly realized that only the laziest and most uninteresting birds were leaving themselves in the public eye like that.  I picked out a couple out of the way spots on the path and caught sight of a couple interesting (and rarely seen, I imagine) birds who bolted as soon as they noticed me.

This one, however, came up right next to me on the path as I was walking by.
Showoff. As soon as he came up, I quickly became boxed in by swarms of little screaming kids and parents following with empty strollers.  Being both gracious and annoyed, I stepped to the back and let the kids check out nature's version of Liberace.

As I got out of the Aviary, this was the scene right outside:

I wasn't quite able to capture this next shot as best as I wanted - the Ostrich has one of the best views in Santiago.  I wonder if he appreciates it.

It was pretty fun wandering through a zoo though, I don't think I've been inside one since Berlin. 

Last thing - you know how all zoos have those signs everywhere that read "Please don't feed the animals"?
Third world, baby.  Third world.

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