Friday, May 23, 2008

The Zoo

Yes, we went to the Yerevan Zoo, or Gazannanotz (Beast Place) today.
I must say it was quite an experience. We paid $2.00 entrance fee
(that was for Kalem and Me and the kids were free), and found our way
into the park. I half jokingly said to Kalem, "Where are the maps?"
when we glanced up and saw a beautiful 5' x 8' painting of the map of
the zoo with each animal in it's quadrant. We ambled our way up the
path and the first "Beasts" we saw were bears; they were blonde
bears...(perhaps Russians who didn't leave after the 1991 collapse?).
There were two of them, one relaxing with his back against the side
wall and the other pacing back and forth in front of the 6 foot
wide"stream" that flowed through their den. The bear seemed to be
quite interested in her reflection in the water or just a nervous
hadiff, I'm not sure which. We walked on and to the right, saw quite
a collection of the cannes family; foxes, wolves, jackals, hyaenas,
and dogs, yep just household or wild shoons! They all had grotesque
parts of dead animals to feast upon, but the section could be a leg or
ribcage or some unidentifiable mystery meat. On our left, which was
the center strip of the park landscape were deers, a small lake with a
single swan and other crane-type birds, two camels in desperate need
of a comb down and my favorite the elephant (of course the elephant
pen was sponsored by Grand Candy, the confett conglomerate of Armenia
selling everything from delicious chocolates, hard candy, flavored
coffee, ice cream, etc and the Grand Candy mascot is a huge pink
peegh...that's Armenian for elephant but sounds like pig!) There were
a number of equine exhibits, many big cats, and yes they did have a
household cat too...gadoo! Peter's favorite was, of course the lions,
2 males and one female and the vagker (tiger) unfortunately they were
all asleep! and Judi loved the peacock and peahens but would not
believe me when I told her the beautiful bird with the fanned out
plumage was a boy. She insisted that GRANDMA told her the beautiful
one was a Girl! I could not believe the gorgeous vultures, stately
eagles and colorful birds unknown to me before. This was quite a
unique place in so many ways. For instance, there was a nice "train"
that had two passenger cars and a man who drove paying customers
around the park. In reality there was no track, the driver; a 45 year
old, relatively tall man crammed behind the wheel, smoking a cigarette
(I mean that is a given) and doing about 25 MPH with toddlers and
grandmas holding on for dear life, honking as he drove through
pedestrians. Most parks and especially zoos have signs, restrictive
bars and park personnel to prohibit untoward activity with or near the
animals. Amazingly enough there were NO park attendants ANYWHERE.
The only people in the zoo were vendors selling food & carnival toys,
old women with their cupfuls of black unsalted sunflower seeds, and
the visitors to the park. And that was the problem. We learned that
the zoo is a place for small children with their whole family, lovers,
and groups of Neanderthal men trying to impress each other or show
off...not a good mix, but when you are in a beast place I suppose one
likes to act like a beast! There were groups of these smart guys
throwing rocks at the wolves, chunks of sweet bread to a ram and the
the worst of all was a dagha mart who threw his half drunk 24oz Coke
into the cage of an old baboon. He offered the primate a cigarette
first but then decided it would be more fun to poison the poor thing
with soda instead. Of course, the baboon took the bottle opened it,
poured it out and started lapping up the brown syrup. Kalem pulled me
away before I could intervene! Next there was Christmas music playing
in the park cafe in the middle of Spring and in ENGLISH. But probably
the most disconcerting and then slightly humorous thing was the rats.
Yes RATS. No they did not have a specific rat display or habitat, no
they just had a lot of...rats. The rats had burrowed holes in and out
of the rare bird section, dined on the porcupine carrots and cabbage,
ate the seeds and grains served to the peacocks. In a word they were
everywhere. Kalem said, "There are more rats in the place than
animals!" But the day was lovely, the weather beautiful, the ice
cream cold and creamy and time with Kalem and my three little beasts
was the best...rats, crazy drivers, foolish boys and all. Enjoy the
pictures and see if you can find the Rats! Jonelle; )

No comments: