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Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Palermo Zoo

After our glorious 2 week vacation back to Virginia, I went through a bit of re-acclimation withdrawal. After a few days of sitting around the house, I decided that we needed to get back into the swing of exploring town and meeting new people. So I looked to my travel books and found a destination that was cheap, local and highly recommended - the Palermo Zoo.

One of the many wonderful things about my husband is his ability to go with the flow. While I am positive that he hated my idea of spending his Saturday at the zoo in the middle of a 95 degree day during school summer vacation, he went along with my plan. The day started with the taxi driver having no clue where we were trying to go. Apparently, my Castellano expertise has not mastered the word "Zoologico". Eventually we arrive at the zoo - and it is PACKED. Not only is every man, woman and child from the greater BA area at the zoo, but we are all sweating to death. We're talking soak-through-your-clothing kind of heat. There were children in diapers, children wearing nothing, grossly overweight elderly men wearing little to no clothing - it was not our scene. But they have the largest collection of white tigers....so we soldiered on.

The Good News: The entrance fee is really cheap - 17 pesos (roughly US$4.50) The zoo has tons of animals. Its conveniently located in a nice area of the city. There are a number of places to buy animal food (for 2-5 pesos) and then the exhibits have ramps where you slide the food to the animals. It brought a lot of the animals right up to you and kids were loving feeding them. The signs were all in Spanish (obviously) so we had fun trying to figure out what the kangarabbit and the porcupig really were. (This remains a mystery to us)

The Bad News: Now here is where it gets really subjective. I have not been to a zoo in easily 15 years. I will admit that a lot of the following opinion may not be only because of the Palermo zoo, but because I forgot how sad zoos really are. The buildings are in disrepair, the animals have little to no shade, any water source was in pretty rough shape and all of the wildlife looks a little, well, skinny. Not to mention a little dehydrated - like our poor camel friend here.

The bottom line is that the zoo needs money. With a substantial amount of funding I think it would be a really nice zoo. It was a nice day regardless and I have to give us credit for trying. But for now, we will skip this stop when people come to visit. My favorite part of the day was on our way home when we stopped at our favorite helado place, Volta. Nothing changes my mood faster than a cuarto-kilo of delicious, amazing ice cream. More on Volta later....

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