Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Bronx Zoo and World Community

Yesterday afternoon I was at the Bronx Zoo. What an amazing place. In the midst of the park - you couldn't tell where in the world you were. The city streets are pretty well screened and the diversity of human visitors was nothing short of amazing. I'm not fond of crowds and at first was taken aback by the sheer number of humans at the park on the cloudy day. But apart from a few outta control shrieking parents (who clearly didn't have my parents as their parents....)and a few over-tired kids, harmony prevailed.

When it comes to zoos - I'm a big game gal. Lions, tigers, giraffes, apes and monkeys. Despite a generally keen sense of direction and the availability of maps - I found the BZ isn't that easy to navigate. The signage was cute but not wonderfully effective and and there's a lot of walking if you end up retracing your steps. Thank God for the shuttles! It's a big place!

When I was there last, the live butterfly exhibit had just opened. At that time, you entered this magical enclosed tropical diorama, and were handed a color brochure about all of the butterflies inside. It was a 3D Highlights magazine experience -- trying to find the butterflies that were pictured on the sheet. My niece Chloe wouldn't let us leave until we'd seen every last one. It was wonderfully interactive.

Yesterday was different. The information sheets and inside staffers were gone. Children were running amok - climbing in the flower beds and trying to catch butterflies. Parents were part of the problem..."it's ok - just touch this one." As I watched several wounded butterflies writhing on the ground - with persistent children trying to "save" them, I felt sad; Clearly budget cuts and short staffs were leaving their mark.

The BZ has come a long way from the place I remember as a child - merely a big park with wonderful old buildings that housed animals. Now it does a lot more. It brings awareness of ecology and conservation to the masses and also shows us we really do get along and marvel at the same things.

If you haven't gone recently....I suggest a weekday - not a weekend!

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