Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Great Debate

I've been torn about writing this post. Really torn. Because, really? Saturday of last weekend was "all about Kate" and this is something I specifically wanted to do. And I did it. And I feel dirty.

A preface: PC and I are zoo-afficianados. We are Zoo New England Members, we planned a trip to DC around the National Zoo (our hotel was within walking distance), and have considered going to San Diego ONLY to see the Zoo. A major defect of the trip to NYC recently was the lack of two zoo visits (Central Park and Bronx).

Saturday, PC had purchased tickets for me and him to go see the live broadcast of the Prairie Home Companion. I * heart* this radio show. Love it. Love it. Love it. I like the old-timey songs, the silly jokes, the bad 'acting' and the guests they have. (FYI: the guest was Donald Hall. ) It was held at Tanglewood and we had packed a picnic for dinner. Tanglewood is a 2-2 1/2 hour drive from our home in MetroWest Boston.... and Tanglewood was worth the drive and gas!

Along the way, we stopped at someplace that we knew could go 1) really well or 2) really bad. The Lupa Zoo.
I am hesitant to blog a poor review of something. Normally, this is because most things that I don't enjoy (slam dancing, drinking beer from funnels or japanese game shows) are simply "not my taste" and I assume that just b/c I don't like something, doesn't mean it's bad.

The Lupa Zoo? Bad. Bad. Bad. We went there simply for one reason: the ability to feed a giraffe. (note: i love giraffes, and this was a "dream" to do this) Well, I fed the giraffe and then spent an hour trying not to cry b/c of the traumatic nature of this place.

What the Lupa Zoo is doing wrong:
  1. feeding animals a very generic "peanut-corn-seed-stale bread" snack mix that is used for all the animals. Most of the animals did not have a food source visible beyond the "petting zoo" mix that you had to buy. Animals were conditioned to run to a "feeding tube" (PVC pipe) that you sent the food down.
  2. poor maintenance of the animal facilities. The primate barn? Stunk like urine and feces and was over 100 deg F inside. In a large fencing material dome, there were several variety of birds, but the sheer number was overwhelming. Bird feces abounded. There was no "green" space for the animals. 95% were on dirt.
  3. Size of animal facilities. Three Himalayan bears (all pretty big) shared a space that was about the size of an expensive house's living room. I know not all zoos have the square footage or the ability to maintain large "natural" habitats, but if you cannot: do not. Get it? Okay.
  4. moving on... my giraffe. Emaciated. Drooping skin. Being fed bananas and apples cut in half. Sounds good, no? THE LABELS WERE STILL ON THE FRUIT. I fed plastic fruit labels to a giraffe (we noticed after the first apple was already gulped down) and I am thinking: hundreds of people have fed this poor animal something 100% indigestible.
  5. overwhelming number of FLIES.
If you are in the Ludlow area, please please do not go here. I am a strong supporter of zoos and aquariums and I have to say, this was despicable. I am drafting a letter the AZA (association of zoos and aquariums). Needless to say, I could not find any association or accreditation information on this zoo. A private zoo will be, among other things, run like a business with cost-effective measure taken. A well cared for private zoo also in the area, Southwick Zoo, has a wonderful reputation, helpful staff, well cared for animals and informative/educated personnel. if you are going to drive to a private zoo, drive to that one. But, remember to support your local non-profit zoo: Franklin Park, Stone Zoo (new bears!) and Roger Williams Zoo...

Knitting photos tomorrow.


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