August 23, 2003

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh Where?

On Tuesday, we went to the Bristol Zoo. It is a rather well-known attraction around these parts and we figured that Aidie was old enough to appreciate seeing in real life the animals he had seen on videos and in storybooks. When you go to the zoo, you expect to see typical zoo animals.

For 8.90 at the Bristol Zoo, you get to see lots of exhibits on conservation. You get to see displays of how much garbage there is the world. You even get to see the skins of dead animals that have been confiscated by Customs and Excise and they were being illegally imported. What you don't get to see are tigers, giraffes, elephants, rhinos, hippos (except a couple of the pygmy variety), chimps, orangutans, leopards, jaguars, antelope, zebras, or bears (except for one small red panda the size of a small dog that hid in the brush).

The total big cat population is one lion and one lioness. They were so boring that when the lioness actually got up and walked across the enclosure briefly, a small crowd of visitors formed to see this amazing spectacle.

The feeding of the seals attracted the biggest crowd. This was not because the seals did anything particularly amazing. They pretty much just showed up when someone arrived with a bucket of fish. Now I say they didn't do anything amazing. This is really only a guess, as we were forced back away from the fence by a family apparently culturally unaccustomed to the idea that it is rude to push in front of people. Apparently in their culture, the men force and opening in the crowd and then call in the rest of the family to quickly fill it.

I'm not denying that there are interesting things to see at the Bristol Zoo. I particularly enjoyed the meerkats. They behaved just as I had seen on a wildlife programme on the telly. While most of them dig in the dirt for a supper of insects, one of them is posted as an outlook. She sits on the top of a pole, turning her head in excess of 180 while her body remains motionless.

I liked the capybaras. As a long-time aficionado of rodents, it is nice to see a variety the size of small cows. They were hanging out with the more beaver-sized and energetic agoutis, while the capybaras were content to remain rather motionless.

Mrs H wasn't particularly impressed with any of it.

Aidan seemed mildly interested in most of the creatures, but was mostly keen on getting the attention of all the other small children. He is quite a social animal himself. He like the exhibit about the endangered species, but that was because he could touch the large stuffed gorilla. I'm not talking about a gorilla that had been stuffed, but rather a giant stuffed animal in the shape of a gorilla produced by a toy company.

Maybe we will try the zoo again when he is a little bit older. And I think we will try a different zoo.

Posted by david at August 23, 2003 06:26 PM | TrackBack