Last Saturday my host brother, Martin, and I traveled to the Lujan Zoo. We had to take a private van there, given that Lujan is about an hour and a half outside of the city. The ride wasn’t very scenic, but I was so excited nonetheless. What makes Zoo Lujan worth the effort is the animals. Not only do they have cages upon cages of lions and tigers, docile animals walking free, camels in the same area as donkeys and pigs, but (and this is the most important part) you can pet the lions. No joke. PETA would have a field day at this place, because the animals are all slightly tranquilized to, well, keep them from attacking the mass amounts of people touching and annoying them all day. I heard about Lujan Zoo the last time I was here in the city but I never had the opportunity to venture there. Luckily, Martin was all about going and arranged the van for us. Little known fact: Tona’s (my buena señora here) sister is a diplomat and was the one responsible for bringing the two Indonesian elephants, Sharima y Arly.
Martin and I lucked out with perfect weather and the day proved to be an interesting lesson on names of animals around the world. Martin even taught me how to say the equivalent of redneck in castellano, because according to him the zoo was full of them.
We had a great day but to be completely honest I had a terrible, guilty feeling for being there. Maybe it was when we entered the tiger cage and the ‘trainer’ starts squirting milk on one of the drowsy, drugged up tigers so Martin and I could pose for pictures. Or maybe it was when one of the geese opens its wings to show that its wings have been clipped. Or seeing two bears share a teeny tine steel cage with just a tree trunk and a beagle to keep it entertained. The dog is intended to help the bears socialize, but I wouldn’t want to be that dog. I’m not sure if I would recommend the zoo to a friend. The experience was unique I’ll give it that, but I don’t want to condone or support that treatment again. You can look at the photos to decide though. Chau.