November 19, 2002
On our last day in Lima, we decided to visit the zoo. The 10-minute taxi ride cost 7 soles ($2 US) from the hotel, and was a rather calm drive. Was it really less chaotic on the streets or was I just becoming accustomed to the hair-raising turns, curb-assisted wheelies, and near misses with pedestrians?
The day was warm and sunny, typical for Lima's dry desert climate and apparently a good day to visit because the zoo was crowded with locals. It was kind of cool wandering around a foreign zoo, reading signs in Spanish and seeing animals surrounded by palm trees and other tropical plants. Animals were enclosed in simple fences allowing us to view them at close range.
Most of the zoo animals were native to Peru, representing the three main regions: Coastal, Sierra highlands, and the Selva jungle. We saw different varieties of llamas, alpacas, condors, caiman, tropical birds, monkeys, and, strangely enough, an elephant that looked completely out of his element. The caiman appeared fake, rubbery-looking. He laid so still with his mouth wide open in a frozen pose. We stared at him, beginning to think he was just a prop until he suddenly closed his mouth.
I enjoyed seeing the tropical birds up close, as they had eluded me last week in the Amazon. We had hiked in the trees and heard them, but unfortunately rarely saw them in the thick, forested jungle. Same with the monkeys. Our guide would spot something, point, and poof!, they'd be gone before we could spot them. It had been frustrating trying to locate those animals and birds artfully playing hide and seek. (EEEee EEE! Oh, there's a monkey! Where? Right...ah, there. Where? There...see him? No, where? Look there. Where? Oh, no, he's gone. RRRgh!)
Here the birds were wonderfully visible-–bright, colorful, and so beautiful. I just wish I could've seen them in their native jungle environment. The great Andean condor had also eluded us in the wild, but here he was--up close. We could imagine his width in flight looking at his large wings. Llamas and alpacas had been plentiful throughout our Peruvian travels, even in the Andean mountains and remote location of Machu Picchu. But it was still interesting to see them herded together, showing the contrast of their different colors.
The zoo was rather small and took less than an hour to walk through, but it was a nice diversion. Fun to see where the locals go on their day off with the kids. And we felt completely safe walking around during the entire visit which was a nice change to much of our experiences elsewhere in Lima.
From journal Lima adventures with my kid brother