Put me anywhere with animals, and I’m like a kid in a candy store. But I do have mixed feelings about visiting zoos. On one hand, it makes me sad to see tigers behind glass, or a condor in a cage, when they should be out in the wild. But on the other hand, where else do I go see animals when I’m not anywhere near the wild?? I don’t plan on going on an African Safari or to the Malaysian jungles anytime soon. And then again, if no one supports zoos anymore, what happens to the animals that are already in captivity?
The Buenos Aires Zoo is literally only a few blocks away from our rental in the Palermo district, and I debated for a few days whether to go or not. But what finally sealed the deal was the fact that this zoo has free roaming animals that you can feed! The prospect of being close and personal to animals made me squeal with excitement.
“My girlfriend’s twelve,” D sighed.
Well, I really needed some animal encounters badly since we no longer have pets. So I dragged D there on an afternoon, against his (mild) protests.
Right away, we spotted the free roaming animals. They tentatively came up to us looking for food. I couldn’t wait to feed them! So the first thing we did was to purchase a bucket of food (curated by zoo veterinarians). The bucket tells you which animals are ok to feed, and it’s easy to discover for yourself which food they prefer.
With food in hand, it’s time to meet the free roaming animals that call the zoo home!
There are peacocks. Did you know peacocks were so vicious? Pretty, but mean. They will chase away any other animal in the vicinity.
There are these large geese things with a rim of red bumps above their eyes. They are belligerent too. I got pecked by one trying to get in my bucket. These things are not shy at all. I suggest that anyone with a large bird phobia stay away.
There are these beautiful large birds. I wish I knew what they were.
There are these interesting beaver look-alike creatures, except with a skinny rat-like tail. Look at their webbed feet! D said they are large water rats, which made me a little squeamish, but I still thought they were adorable. These creatures are quite skittish, but won’t be shy about climbing up on you for more food!
The Patagonian Maras
And my favorite are the Patagonian maras (also known as the Patagonian hare). These strange looking rodents look like a cross between a tiny deer, tiny wallaby, and dwarf bunny. And the strangest part is a tiny black tail that looks like a piece of dangling poop.
I’ve never seen anything like it! And I was thrilled that so many of them came up and said hi. After meeting so many of these cute creatures, I went home and looked up more information on them. Here are some fun facts:
- The Patagonian mara is endemic to Argentina, and lives in the grasslands with shrubbery.
- They are classified as “near threatened”, due to habitat loss and hunting for its skin.
- When threatened, they can run at speeds of up to 45 kilometers/hour.
- They are strictly monogamous…. a pair bonds for life!
- The male maintains the pair by following the female wherever she goes (I like the idea of that!), and marking her with his urine (hmm I don’t like that part).
- They gained popularity as exotic pets in North America (yes, I want one too!).
I could have happily spent an afternoon feeding my entire bucket to the maras. Feeling their warm little noses in my hand was exactly what I needed to combat my pet-less-blues. But there were other hungry animals to feed and the beautiful zoo to enjoy (coming up in part 2).
We spent an lovely afternoon strolling around the park-like settings of the zoo…though bouncing/skipping would be more accurate in my case. Is it weird that one of my happiest days so far in Buenos Aires is a day at the zoo? Apparently, I do have the mental capacity of a twelve year old. But by the time we made a complete round and our bucket has emptied, even D had smile on his face and admitted that he had fun.
Stayed tuned for a Part 2! This post is already too laden with pictures, and I still have pictures of the gorgeous zoo (which is worthy of its own post!) to share, as well as my final opinion of the Buenos Aires Zoo.
But for now, I hope you enjoyed getting to know the maras. :)
This post is part of the #sundaytraveler series. Check out this post 5 Reasons Why You Should Love Slovenia by Pack Me To (@packmeto), and don’t forget to support all the other participating blogs (links at the bottom of post)! And also a part of Travel Photo Discovery!