The last couple of weeks have been beautifully sunny and warm, a flashback to the summer we never had this year. Yesterday we took advantage of the last weekend of it to go to the Artis Zoo in Amsterdam. It has a bit of a silly name (seriously, your motto is Natura Artis Magister – Nature is the teacher of Art – and you go by Artis? Art the Zoo?) but is a very nice zoo. It’s in the middle of the city and was founded in 1838, so there’s a lot of beautiful architecture both within and around the zoo – there are apartments with views of giraffes, and the Wolf House was once an inn. Another advantage of its age is the history that comes with it – on display in the Aquarium is a letter Charles Darwin sent to the zoo, to ask them to check on a feature of one of the animals they were breeding.
Of course, having an in-city location means that the zoo isn’t all that large as zoos go, but they did a good job of fitting in lots of animals without making any of the enclosures seem cramped – though I’m sure the wolves and the leopards would each prefer a few more acres.
However, I think we may be ruined for zoos forever. We enjoyed the day out, the architecture and the nice weather, but our conversations kept sounding like this:
“Wow, that lion is a lot scrawnier than the ones we saw in South Africa!”
“Hey, last time we saw wallabies we were feeding them in Tasmania!” “Yeah, or seeing them around our car in the hotel parking lot there!”
“I forgot how much penguins stink!”
“Look how small the ears are on those elephants, compared to the ones we saw in Africa. They must be Asian.” “Yes, like the ones we rode in Thailand.”
Ruined, I tell you. Still, it was fun to see how they incorporated the zoo into the city, and it was a good way to spend a sunny October day.