Lions and Tigers and Jaguars, Oh My!

>> Sunday, February 17, 2008

One of our favorite parts of the Embassy summer camp was the field trip to the zoo. The zoo is right down the highway from Masaya, but we had never made it out there for a visit. One of the students told me not to get my hopes up about the quality of the zoo, but it turned out to be really fun. First, here are all the kids waiting to get inside. You can see me in the picture if you're good at "Where's Waldo?":This is Nicaragua's national bird, the Guardabarranco:

Here was a cage full of very long-tailed monkeys (not their scientific name). You may be thinking, "Wow, they look so close up, like you could just reach out and shake their little hands!" You would be correct; all the animals here were in cages that were definitely close enough to the walkways to just stick your hands inside, including the jaguars, lions, and other ferocious-type animals.
This was a really cute animal. I don't know (in English or Spanish) what it is; all the kids kept asking the English words for the animals, and with all the rodent/weasel type animals, we mostly had to say we didn't know. He was one of the animals I most wanted to reach out and pet. These two little foxes were just hanging out. I'm not sure if it was the time of day (around 5 pm) or just that the animals don't get many visitors, but nearly all the animals were awake and active and doing cute things. Another reason for the animals' activity was probably that it was feeding time. Here are my favorite animals at the zoo, the mom and baby jaguar, getting ready to eat dinner. All the big animals at the zoo just received big, raw parts of calves. Here is another jaguar... there were several cages with jaguars in them. This one was born missing his front left leg, but that didn't seem to slow him down one bit. When we came up to his cage, he started running around, jumping, playing with the jaguar in the next cage, and playing with his food. He was definitely an animal I wanted to pet, but we resisted. Paul did, however, put the camera up close enough to the bars so that you wouldn't see them in the picture. The zoo's male lion has clearly seen better days. He's 24 years old. He shares his cage with a 6-year-old lioness, and she was much more agile. A lot of the kids kept asking, "Teacher, he is dead?" but we did see him move around some. The last of the big cats was the tiger. The tiger started off sleeping, but then woke up, went for a swim, and then paced back and forth a lot. Finally, the zoo had a lot of other tropical birds, including toucans and parrots. Just that week, our zoo was in the news because several birds and animals were stolen by armed gunmen. We had hoped for a highly dramatic picture of a sign that said "toucans" in front of an empty cage, but it turns out they were stolen from the rehabilitation center and there were still a few toucans, parrots, and raccoons left in the zoo.All in all, it was a really fun trip. It's the closest we've ever been to a lot of these animals, so it was definitely worth the 75 cent admission.


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