Whenever we go somewhere, I am always zooming in on zoos and pet zoos. They are like magnets to me. I want to see what the place looks like, how the animals are kept, what they do to educate people… And of course I want to see beautiful animals and learn new stuff!
Yesterday, we celebrated my youngest son’s fourth birthday and took all the kids to one of Israel’s bigger zoos. So I got the idea of doing a (Pet) Zoo of the Month review… And here is the first one: Safari Ramat Gan!
Space and layout: 9
This is a big zoo with a safari section you can drive through. It has a very large savannah-like space centred around a lake, where zebras, antelopes, rhinos, giraffes and ostriches roam free. It has a separate, heavily fenced section for lions. It took us about half an hour to slowly drive through the safari. The lake has hippos, pelicans, flamingos and a whole host of ducks and geese.
The only problem with this setup is that you get people trying to feed the animals through their car window… Although that is strictly forbidden, there are always people who do it and the guards can’t be everywhere at once. The ostriches walk up to the cars and tap on the windows looking for bread. Cute, but not a good idea.
Also, there was a story in the papers not long ago about rhinos breaking out and running around in the neighbouring park. Maybe time for some stronger fencing!!
Design and maintenance: 7
While we were walking through the zoo section, I started thinking that “zoo exhibit designer” must be a fabulous job. It would be really satisfying to make beautiful, natural habitats where the animals feel right at home, and also to make the zoo itself look like you’re walking through the jungle. This zoo gets points for using natural materials, having lots of trees and greenery and making an effort to make the animals’ living spaces look like their natural surroundings.
Oh, and I enjoyed the Chinese section 🙂
Animal welfare: 8
I’m not really sure how well I can judge this, not having insider information, but at least the cages were beautiful and spacious and the animals looked pretty happy, healthy and well-fed. A lot of effort had been made for the big cats, which was good to see. The only thing I did not like to see was the bear section. I wonder if it really is a good idea to keep cold climate animals in such a hot country… Although these little cuties look happy enough:
Oh, and extra kudos for gay rights support! 🙂 This lovely true story about a gay penguin couple, And Tango Makes Three, is probably the reason for the rainbow flag.
Pet zoo section: 7
Here we get to the part I like best – the petting zoo!! This was only a small section, and the only animals currently available for petting were goats. But they were really nice, gentle and kid-friendly goats. Not to mention fluffy! They had sheared the goats but left some of the wool half on some of them. That was kind of interesting to see but I’m not sure how comfortable it was for the animals.
Extra point for this sign of respect for the animals:
Sadly, they lost that point again when I got to the rabbit cage. Gasp!! No straw, hay or any roughage in sight! Only bare floor and a mountain of veggies. Oh dear.
But then, they got another point again for being a freerange paradise for chickens, guineas and peafowl. They have free run of the entire zoo and safari. They must be having a fantastic life!
Awareness and education: 7
I think this is a very important aspect of zoos… I am aware of the growing anti-zoo sentiments of a lot of people. I am in two minds about it myself. On the whole, I think that it is better for zoos to exist than not to exist. Without the educational element and captive breeding programs of zoos, a lot of animal species would already be lost forever.
Overall experience: 8
A good time was had by all! It’s a spacious, pretty zoo and on the whole, the living conditions of the animals are good. I do feel it could be a bit little kid-friendlier though. My 4 year old had to be lifted to see almost every animal, which gets very tiring after a while.
What about the zoos in your country? I would really enjoy reading reviews of zoos all around the world!!