We weren't sure exactly what to expect in terms of what the zoo would be like, what kind of conditions the animals would be in and how much space they would have. It was my first visit to a Mexican zoo so I don't have much to compare it with, only half-remembered visits to zoos in the UK many years ago (Whipsnade Zoo is the one we used to go to when I was a child).
It's bigger than it seems; when you enter you walk along a dirt track with quite large fenced enclosures on either side containing deer, buffaloes, flamingoes and ducks, but you can't see what's ahead or how far it extends, there's no map and no signposts. You just keep walking without knowing what you're going to see next or how much more there is to see!
There were pushchairs and little crocodile cars to rent at the entrance - that's when we realised we'd forgotten to bring Emma's pushchair, as she doesn't use it that often anymore - but we thought, she's a good walker, she'll be fine, and she was. She managed to walk, or run at times, around the whole zoo, and we were there for about two and a half hours. The dry, dusty dirt track that was the footpath taking us around the zoo was probably even more fascinating to Emma than the animals! It was a good thing she was wearing her trainers as she was constantly playing with the dust with her feet and kicking it up. I was wearing sandals which got covered in dust, as did my feet and my trousers, as every time I picked Emma up so she could get a better view her dusty shoes brushed against my legs! Imagine how muddy it must get during rainy season!
After the flamingoes we came to a little room where a few families were waiting and peering through the windows. Inside was a keeper with a curious and playful tigercub and a sleeping leopard cub. You could go in, one family at a time and take photos with the baby tiger. We couldn't resist, of course - when do you get the chance to play with a tigercub? The keeper explained that the cub had been abandoned by its mother who had shown no interest in her offspring, so it was being raised by the zookeepers.
You could touch and stroke the tiger, but not pick him up or detain him in any way. We could hear his pretty constant low baby tiger growl and Emma wasn't quite sure what to make of him! He was very keen on trying to climb up, or chew, Eduardo's jeans and my dangling camera case became a fascinating toy. That was definitely a unique experience - thinking: my two-year-old is stroking a tiger!
We saw adult tigers later on; there were two tabby Bengal tigers, of which there are only 30 left in the world, according to the information I read on the enclosure, which is very sad. We thought the areas for the tigers and lions weren't very spacious; they didn't look like they had much room to roam around. The chimpanzees could probably have used a bigger enclosure too.
Emma was fascinated by the chimps, the way they interacted to a certain extent with the people staring at them. One of them made kissing noises, which she thought was quite funny and reciprocated. She was interested, too, in the different monkeys that we saw as they were eating. I asked her yesterday if she remembered what the monkeys had been eating at the zoo. She thought for a moment and said "ma-mo" (mango).
The other really close encounter we had was with a giraffe. You climb up onto a platform to feed them; the giraffe comes over to where you are (you're about neck-height), sticks his head over the fence and straight into the bucket. The giraffe is just so incredibly tall and big when you're that close to it and I had a fleeting worry about standing in the wrong place and being knocked aside by an over-eager giraffe! I could stroke the rough fur of its neck as it was feeding, but Emma didn't want to touch it, understandably, I think she was a little intimidated or overwhelmed by the sheer size of the animal!
For a small provincial zoo, I thought they had quite a surprising variety of different species. There were signs with lots of information about each animal, although I noticed a couple of the signs were either missing or in the wrong place. I know zoos can be controversial, and I'm not sure whether it's really a good idea to interact with wild animals even in a zoo setting. Perhaps the tigercub was an exceptional case, as he was being raised by humans rather than his mother. All opinions are welcome in the comments below!
In the photos are some of the other animals we saw.
Cost: Entrance costs $95 pesos for adults and $75 pesos for children, which I considered quite reasonable. Extras: going in with the tigercub was $100 extra and feeding the giraffe cost $20 pesos per feeding bucket.
- Toilets with a baby changer
- large kiosk selling snack food and drinks (somewhat overpriced fast food and Mexican snack food; in case of desperation only)
- tables and seating
- ice lolly shop
- souvenir shop
- children's play area
For more information, although it is in Spanish, you can check the zoo's website www.zoowameru.com.mx or look for Zoológico Wameru on Facebook.
Disclaimer: I was not asked to write about Wameru Zoo, nor did I receive anything in return. All opinions are, obviously, my own.