Lions and Tigers and Bears, Luján!
· by wendy · argentina
When the Alaskans of Postcard Valet asked us if we wanted to go to the zoo in Buenos Aires, we weren’t super pumped about it. We had been to the zoo in Santiago, Chile, did we really need to go to another? Arlo sent me a link to someone’s blog about the zoo to try to convince me. I opened the link to find some crazy stuff and thought to myself, “What the….. this is gonna be interesting”.
Some walking, a metro ride and a bus trip outside the city took us to the Luján Zoo. What a strange place this was from the get go. At the entrance and covering quite a bit of walking space before you ever reach any animals, there’s a graveyard of hundreds of vintage tractors, trains and other rusting vehicles. We collectively thought….mmmkay. This is not a zoo like we’ve ever seen.
A little further into the zoo we were greeted by ducks, geese and a strange looking rat thing called a nutria. We thought they would scamper away but, no they were curious, too. They seemed friendly so we hung out with them for awhile. They came up really close in hopes that we had something to feed them. Our cameras turned out to not be very tasty so they would eventually walk away to check someone else out only to return and repeat the same process. Short term memories, I suppose.
The nutria were interesting but honestly, their orange teeth and giant rat bodies were creeping us out. We moved on to the stars of the show just around the corner. We found some teenager aged lions and tigers and watched them through their cage. At this point, I must have either forgotten why we came to this particular zoo, or simply not believed the rumors to be true. So, when a zoo worker asked if we wanted to go in the cage, we were a little shocked. Holy crap…but, sure, why not?!
Slowly and tentatively, we entered the cage. The worker grabbed a bottle full of milk and started squirting it on one of tiger’s paws, essentially keeping it distracted while we were to pet it’s back. This was not comforting as I know how fast a house cat can react to someone behind them and I didn’t want to find out how fast this cat could move. The worker continued to encourage us so eventually we got comfortable enough to touch them. Apparently milk was more important than having to deal with the likes of us. They even allowed us to feed them. Perfectly normal stuff….FEEDING TIGERS!
After the high of petting and feeding the beautiful beasts that could tear our heads off, we wandered around toward some of the other animals. We then found the 3 and 4 month old lions and tigers. They let us in there, too!
These little ones were playful and obviously very cute. What was strange was that there was a dog in the cage with them.1 We learned that the dogs are there to teach the cats to play softly and not harm the humans. I guess it’s working out so far.
Next was another cage, this time with some really large adult cats. Dusty and I wussed out. I mean they’re beasts and could kill you! Arlo and Oksana were not as wimpy and went for it. I hope they were distracted while taking their cat photos and didn’t notice the irritated tiger acting up behind them. The zoo worker kept scolding it and finally shooed it away. It then paced in the corner. I might have peed my pants had I been in there!
After we had had our fill of cats, we continued on to the other animals. We had to turn down an offer to play with a bear but accepted one to feed elephants. This place was an animal amusement park!
Later, when we returned back to our apartments with all of our limbs still in tact, we looked up photos others have posted online of the Luján Zoo We were totally jipped! Some people got to sit on a lion! Thinking back though, I don’t actually wish to sit on a lion. That’s just going too far. It’s a LION! This zoo is highly controversial, and I don’t wish to take part in the debate but, you have to admit, touching lions and tigers is pretty awesome.
Zoo de Luján
Cost: $50 ARS or $12.34 USD + tips requested at each cage you enter to pet or feed animals
Wendy’s Review: Slightly ludicrous while awesome at the same time
Bus 57 from Plaza Italia in Palermo, Buenos Aires
Where: Buy tickets from small booth on side of road that says “zoo”
Duration: 1 hour
Cost: $20 ARS or $5 USD
1 There was a dog in the first cat cage we visited. When the worker opened the gate for us to come in, the dog came running out and freaked me right out. I’m not sure if I thought it was a tiger or a just a dog, but either way…scary!