Zoos are portals to the world

Written by  John Johnston

Everybody remembers that first visit to the zoo. The smell of all the animals, the excitement as you come round to the tigers and lions, the chance maybe even to pet a goat or to get up close to some killer creepy crawly, it’s a rites of passage for many a youngster. The zoo really is that first portal that you step through as a child that shows you how big this world we inhabit is, how vast it must be to have all of these animals just wandering across it, plunging to the depths of the ocean or flying as high as we can imagine. Zoos take are minds off to plains or mountains or forests that we’ve never been to making that first zoo visit undeniably magical about.

This magic isn’t new however, since 1752 and the opening of the Tiergarten Schonnbrunn in Austria, people have been experiencing the magic of the animal kingdom and zoos have emerged all over the world, each with something that makes them special and unique. In Berlin, you can visit Knut, the rejected polar bear cub who captured everyone's hearts with his as cute-as-can-be looks (despite the fact he's going to grow into the world's largest land-found predator). You can share the five million dollar view with the giraffe's in Taronga, chill with the animals in Amsterdam's Artis zoo, stay up with the nocturnals at Singapore zoo or have the safari brought to you in the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa. With zoos the world is brought to you in one place.

While early zoos could be described as monuments to human superiority over the world, a more animal-empathetic mind has emerged and the modern trend is for animal friendly zoos. Many work hard to create an au natural feel for their inhabitants. Zoos such as San Diego, Ueno Zoological Garden and London zoo are tirelessly trying to reverse the destruction that human arrogance has caused with their conservation and breeding efforts and in an incredible turn of events, are releasing animals into the wild rather than just capturing.

With the increasing popularity and ease to which we can see magnificent animals in the wild, in places such as safaris, some now see zoos as slightly tame affairs. If you feel that there magic is beginning to wane, then Australia Zoo could be the pilgrimage to restore your faith! Carrying on the fearlessness of its former owner Steve Irwin, the zoo gives you the opportunities of a lifetime such as taking the tigers for their walkies! Over in America, a different route has been taken, with Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park deciding the best way to see the animals is from the top of a rollercoaster!

Whatever way you decide to see the animals, a trip to the zoo is going to bring all those magic memories flooding back and pry those world weary eyes wide open and if you bring the kids you’ll get all the thanks you need when you see their eyes open to the splendour of this world.

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