We finally made it to the zoo! Ever since my darling OH and son went ski-ing via Pistoia and told me there was a zoo there, I have wanted to visit it. However, the two chaps were not over enthusiastic, it being a zoo and all. My son came on board when he heard there was a polar bear, Antonia just wanted to go anyway, but I didn't really want to do it with just the two of us as it was quite a big day out. Not having a car, and not wanting to hire one just for the zoo, it meant getting a train and then a bus to get there. It wasn't too bad and probably took about an hour in total to get there. Both kids thought the train was a treat as it was one of the double decker ones! We had to go and sit upstairs, of course! The bus was pretty much a mini-bus, but driven like a rally car! The return journey was actually quite scary! The driver (female) was definitely suffering from road rage and was pretty abusive to anyone that got in her way! Plus I didn't know a mini-bus could corner on two wheels - I do now!
Anyway, back to the zoo! It is in the process of extensive renovations. Some parts are already complete, so where the lions, tigers and jaguars live are of a reasonable size and full of trees, pools and greenery. In fact it was quite difficult to spot the lions and tigers! The jaguar pen was a little smaller so they were much easier to see. They are also building a large environment for brown bears to roam in. The wolves almost have an entire forest to themselves! But then there were still some sad remainders of a "traditional" zoo. The much anticipated Polar bears were in an area much too small for them. It looked dirty and old. I really hope it is a temporary situation for them. The bears were quite young or maybe they were stunted in size, I hope not! The giraffes, elephants, hippos and zebra's were in small areas too, but the animals seemed reasonably unstressed, although they could just have been so bored they didn't care anymore! One strange thing is that there were pellets sold in machines to feed to the giraffes and elephants! As you can imagine this was very popular with all the kids there - and the animals too! They were very enthusiastic in their efforts to be fed!
I like to visit zoos. Not because I am some kind of animal sadist, but because I really do believe that done properly they have a very important job to do. In Britain we are lucky in some of the zoos we have there and the work on conservation that they are able to do. That a small town like Pistoia really wants to bring their zoo up to these kind of standards should be supported. Having visited a few others in Europe the trend does seem to be moving towards a more scientific approach, which in turn means that the animals benefit from better facilities. The move is away from displaying animals for public enjoyment and towards conservation and dignity for the species involved. To rid the world of the zoos where it is still about display we have to support those that want to do it better, especially where near extinct animals are concerned. I genuinely believe the only hope for some animal species is in captivity, like it or not. Here endeth the sermon! Some photos: