I had the opportunity recently to take my friend to her first-ever zoo trip. As we’re both based in Warsaw, we, of course, went to the Warsaw Zoo. I don’t remember exactly how the topic was brought up, but when she mentioned she had never been to a zoo, I knew I’d have to take her to one.
Now I’ve been to quite a few zoos in my life, from the relatively small zoo in my hometown, the Sacramento Zoo, to the San Diego Zoo, which is one of the biggest zoos in the world. A particular favorite of mine is The Living Desert, a zoo that concentrates on the conservation a careful preservation and protection of something, especially planned management of natural resources to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect of desert animals. And while I know the zoos I’ve mentioned are all in California, my home state, I’ve been around the block a bit, and been to zoos in Hawaii, Oregon, Washington DC, Mexico, Gdansk, and now, Warsaw.
I’ve got to say, Warsaw Zoo was amazing. It’s been years since I’ve been to a zoo of its size, and there was an amazing variety of animals, from the tiniest beetle in the insect house to the enormous elephants and giraffes. I was especially excited to see the capuchin monkeys, who were adorable, and the Przewalski horses, which are the last true wild horses, and split off from modern domesticated adapted over time (as by selective breeding) from a wild or natural state to life in close association with and to the benefit of humans horses between 38,000-160,000 years ago.
When she first got there, my friend was a little worried about going to a zoo. She didn’t like the idea of holding wild animals captive outside of their natural habitats the natural environment in which a species or group of species lives in small enclosures, and was worried that the animals were unhappy and uncomfortable. While I understood her concerns, I explained to her that a good zoo is conscious of this idea and good zoos work to preserve endangered species a species of animal or plant with such small numbers that it is seriously at risk of extinction through breeding programs and donations to conservation efforts, keep animals born in captivity comfortable and safe, rehabilitate injured animals, and educate the public on animals and conservation. There are absolutely bad zoos out there, who do not treat their animals well, but it’s pretty easy to tell a good zoo from a bad zoo.
Warsaw Zoo is definitely a good zoo. They have multiple signs explaining conservation efforts, a room showing the dangers of poaching, and their vision on their website reads “We are the best home for animals till they will be able to get back to their natural environment and zoological gardens will be useless and needless.” We also saw signs of a good zoo from the behavior of the animals. We saw monkeys getting fed, and they were choosing which food they wanted and dropping other chunks of food – this is a great sign that they are well fed and happy. It was also amazing to see the Scimitar-horned oryx, an animal which was extinct there are no more animals of this species alive in the wild for 16 years before a reintroduction to the wild in 2016. Zoos were one of the few places that this animal was alive and kept for those years.
We were both very happy by the end of our zoo trip, and made plans to go back and spend more time, so we could see even more animals. We had limited time, so we couldn’t see every animal, and some were inside due to the time of day. Next time, we hope to see some lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!).
Vocabulary Words: Conservation, Domesticated, Natural habitat, Endangered species, Extinct