We’d been told that the Argentinians speak much slower than the Chileans and it’s true. All of a sudden we can understand what people are saying to us. Suddenly I feel capable of learning another language.
The Mendoza Zoo in Parque General San Martín is about seven kilometres from our Hostel. We tried to find the bus to the zoo but had no luck. We ended up asking a cyclist police man for advice. I must digress here. We saw several police patrolling on bicycles. Nothing unusual about that except these bikes are fitted with a blue and white light and what looks like a little siren. I’m imagining some high speed chase with a rogue rollerblader being pursued by a police bicycle with blue and white lights flashing on the front.
The police man told us that a taxi was a better option than a bus. He hailed a taxi for us and told the driver that we wanted to go to the entrance of Parque General, unfortunately for us we still had another three kilometres to go. Not really an issue, we would just catch the next bus. I asked the driver how much and he told me and I handed the money over. The driver rolled his eyes. This is when we found out that you have to have a bus card to swipe at the entrance of the bus. Another passenger swiped his card for us and the driver gave him the money.
We arrived at the zoo, three different passengers told us when it was time to get off, and went in. We’d read that the zoo was full of small cages and sadly the information was correct. A solitary toucan sat in its cage. The arguments for and against zoos are many. Seeing a graceful rainforest bird sitting in an aviary just doesn’t seem right. Further into the zoo we saw two polar bears in a small cement enclosure with only a wading pool for them to cool off in. There were too many baboons in the baboon enclosure without anything natural for them to climb on. It looked as if they had been allowed to breed without any kind of control for the size of their pen. We watched them being feed and the food all looked like top quality fresh fruit and vegetables and there was enough for all of them. The strange thing was watching them shred the apples just to get the seeds out of the middle.
We saw animals that we’ve never seen before such as zebras, armadillos, hippopotamus, black leopard and tapir. There was an elephant giving itself a dust bath.
The saddest part to the day was realising how far this zoo had to go with its care for animals. One of the polar bear was doing the zoo rock. Something we’ve been told that happens to animals in captivity without enough stimulation. One of the hippos kept nudging the cage in a repetitive manner. The most heartbreaking moment was watching a brown bear walking circles in its enclosure. It went in the same direction each time and when it got to one wall it would touch with its cheek, turn and do another revolution. It had worn a track in the floor of the pen. Obviously it had walked the same path countless times before today.
Something that we found very different to other zoos we’ve visited is the lack of keepers or staff interacting with the animals and people. The admission price for the whole family was less than AU$10 and perhaps their lack of funding has something to do with the care of the animals. I’d like to think that the zoo isn’t the way it is by choice.
As we left the zoo a man came over and asked us if we needed a taxi. We agreed on a price and he drove us back to the hotel. We talked about the bas cards and he pulled out his and said it needs charging but we could have it. He gave us his business card – his number written on a scrap of paper while he was driving through the city.
We meandered down to Plaza Independencia where they were starting to set up for the night markets but our two little munchkins had worn themselves out by waking up at the crack of dawn today so we bought them an ice-cream for desert and sent them to bed. Let it be noted that the ice-cream does taste better here, fresh milk does make a difference.
Some of the trees have a habit of leaning too far. The government has implemented these props to stop the trees falling. Indiana and Truce came to the rescue of this tree moments before it would have crashed to the ground.
See the video of Indiana getting a haircut from Edward Scissorhands here.