We went to the zoo in Buenos Aires. It had all of the familiar traits of a European tourist attraction, with queues of buggies waiting to get in as the gates opened, legions of wannabe drama students on the other side of the gates waiting eagerly to take some of our money for ice cream, maps, animal food and ambushed photos.
There was a all-pervasive stench of piss right the way through the entire attraction, sharpening and mellowing depending on the animals you were closest to, the particular scent changing note by note between species.
The architecture is magnificent, various enclosures designed in wildly different historical international styles. The flamingos in their murky lake overlooked by a Byzantine ruin, the elephants in their Indian temple, monkeys overlooking a thoroughly pleasant Oriental pagoda. It gives the place a Vienna-esque tinge of faded grandeur, the distant memory of a past with balls.
An even more surreal quality was lent by the odd two-foot guinea pig creatures wandering round the pedestrian walkways. What they lacked in showmanship they more than made up for in quirky weirdness. (And in retrospect, I must also conclude that they looked remarkably like Rafael Nadal)
I love zoos though. I’ve never held truck with all of these eco-rights-campaignervists who seem to think the animals would be happier enjoying freedom (as if they understood the concept) rather than being gawped at, admired and enjoyed by thousands of visitors. A certain amount of restriction is surely the price of fame?
Whatever, it was particularly enjoyable to while away a few hours taking in the many different types of camelid that make up the extended llama family, enjoy the diverse architecture and get slightly worried at the pockets of empty tanks in the spider area.
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