101 in 1001 {III}: 027 go to the bronx zoo [completed 09.15.13]

maya and her cub

i spend a lot of time thinking about animal parks, which is unsurprising, given the rigors of maintaining ye olde birthday cakes for animals tumblr (it is no picnic: the panda photos really start to bleed together after the third or fourth month, and the internet still seems to lack interest in fĂȘting reptiles*). ethics of anthropomorphism aside, we have a complicated history: when i was growing up in southern california, local heavies included a drive-through safari at which an african elephant broke free, killed one of her trainers, and forced the closure of two freeways; the san diego zoo (linked in the early '90s to hunting farms); and sea world (enough said). irresponsible animal parks are nightmarish, but conscientious ones are invaluable to conservationists. the bronx zoo is the flagship urban animal park of the wildlife conservation society, a nonprofit which receives excellent ratings from groups like charity navigator and kicks ass when it comes to, say, taking care of little snow leopards. we made a point of visiting the zoo this weekend because they've just started letting the public have a look at this five-month-old fellow, asleep with his mum five feet away from us in my photo; he's the firstborn son of leo, a leopard cub who was orphaned in the mountains of pakistan back in 2005 and rescued and hand-fed by a shepherd (seriously). thank you, bronx zoo, for being the sort of animal park that spearheads worldwide leopard-saving efforts and not the sort of animal park that plunks its big-cat exhibits right next to a shrieking merry-go-round (i'm looking at you, national zoo). the zoo's extensive grounds seemed to suit all of the animals we visited, actually, and once i have figured out how to hang out with tigers without weeping openly i will probably start making a point of going there on a regular basis. oh, tigers.

*with the notable exception of the late krakatoa, a komodo dragon who has been appreciated by like 27,000 people thus far. you fascinate me, internet, but i will probably never understand you.


Anonymous said...

blarg, i left this long comment about nostalgia and lion country safari and apartment complexes being built on the restless graves of juaneno natives, but the UX team who built this feature decided you should be informed of your need to first log in, without giving you an opportunity to ever see your comment alive and well again.
that's okay, this one was better.

lauren said...

if i were to have a gravestone (which i shan't, for i shall be cremated if i ever die, which i won't, for i'm composed entirely of preservatives), it would read


Rachel said...

You didn't even mention the bizarre, mostly monkey, possibly not regulated Santa Ana zoo! Did you manage to escape Orange County without ever visiting it?

(So Cal attempts at zoos are really something else)

lauren said...

my sisters and i actually went to zoo camp there one summer, rachel. most of what we did at zoo camp has been buried by the sands of time, but i do remember 1) manhandling baby chicks and 2) a weird party at the end where we were each told to bring some sort of beverage; our counselors poured them all into a giant plastic vat, stirred them around, and called the resulting sludge "zooicide." i believe the whole vat was consumed.

lauren said...

cont'd: whoa. just checked out the santa ana zoo homepage for old times' sake and found


That was the unusual request made in 1952 by Joseph Prentice, the founder of the Santa Ana Zoo at Prentice Park. In order for the Zoo to exist, Mr. Prentice required that there be 50 monkeys on the grounds at all times. When you come for a visit, look for the 50 monkeys!