A trip to the Berlin Zoo

16 Oct

DSCN0308I was absolutely thrilled to be going to the Berlin Zoo. While I do have very mixed feelings regarding zoos — I think keeping animals in captivity just for our enjoyment is terrible — I do think that when they are well-run, and the animals are taken care of appropriately, they can be a great place for people to fall in love with wildlife, learn about them, protect them if they are endangered, and get people thinking and talking about conservation. I knew we were going to be VERY jet-lagged on our first day in Berlin, so I also wanted to pick an activity that was going to be somewhat familiar and easy for us to navigate.  We had also heard that the zoo had a giant panda, which we thought would be awesome to see. Despite Zack not being totally bought-in at the beginning*, I think he enjoyed the leisurely walk around the zoo, and we spent just enough time there to get our fill** but not get bored. I think Zack intended some of the text below to be space-filler*** as we were uploading photos, but it literally made me laugh aloud so I am insisting that we keep what he had.

*I like zoos for the most part as long as we don’t stop too long at boring animals. I can chill with the lions and tigers for a while, but the extended stays with birds or reptiles is the worst. Also, we were crazy tired and jet lagged.

**I really did enjoy it and it brought me back to how much I loved the Lincoln Park Zoo as a kid in Chicago.

***I uploaded the first dozen or so photos before going to sleep last night and the captions were half for Caitlin’s benefit and half intended to be used because why not.

DSCN0283This Rhino looks like he has armor on. It was awesome to round the corner of the zoo entrance and run smack dab into these beasties. The Berlin Zoo has a really open feel to it, so it’s almost like you could reach out and touch these guys!

DSCN0285Good old sandy back Elephant. It was tough to get a great elephant shot, because they were pretty far away from us, but this one of the elephant giving himself a refreshing sand-and-dirt bath turned out pretty well. There were also BABY ELEPHANTS OMGZ Y’ALL but we couldn’t get a great shot of them.

DSCN0293Lil’ Mountain Goat. This little guy was eyeballing us pretty hard from his rocky perch.

DSCN0295No idea what this weirdo is. I think this is some kind of antelope? He looks majestic, anyway.

DSCN0296We will always have a pic of Caitlin smiling with deer at a zoo. I can’t really tell what my gesture is…I think I was trying to point with my thumb and so it looks like I’m just giving a mini fist-in-the-air to the deer. Go deer!

DSCN0297The least intimidating buffalo ever. Zack didn’t believe me that this was a buffalo when I first identified it, because it’s just so scrawny. I think it’s kinda cute.

DSCN0301The cutest widdle wegs evaaa. SQUEEEEE. LOOK. AT. THE SIZE. OF HIS HOOVES!!! This just about killed me. We have a LOT of photos of this guy, but we’re trying to limit ourselves. His mom was hanging out right underneath us in a little trench area, but I could never get a clear shot of her. She was super close to us, though!

DSCN0305Hello cute seal friend. Poppin’ his head out, checkin’ out the scene.

DSCN0309The Lion Queen. We were fascinated by the lions, and spent a lot of time with them.

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Papa Lion kept pacing back and forth, so I never got a clear shot of him, but I love how his face is really well outlined in this photo while his body is kind of a blur. Gets that motion across. We thought the lions were going to be our favorite big cats. We were wrong. They made the best roaring noises, though!

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This leopard was gorgeous, but he and his brother just kind of chilled out and didn’t move much, other than to stare us down in a way that said, if you came in here, I would eat you so fast. Leopard print clothing: terrible. Real leopards: sexy cats.

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This. This was our favorite, if most terrifying, big cat. This guy went to TOWN on this huge chunk of meat, whatever it was prior to being annihilated. As I’m guessing you can tell – we were VERY close to this giant tiger, and his beauty and size were just awe-inspiring. You could really hear the bones crunch in his massive teeth. Get ’em.

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A close-up of dinner. Omnomnomnom.

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Somebody enjoyed his meal. He looked right at us a couple times, too, but the camera just wasn’t fast enough to capture it. I’ll never forget it, though. What a beast. Loved this dude.

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This bear is just fed up with your questions. You’re giving him a headache, can’t you see that? Seriously, just leave him alone right now, OK you guys? He just wants to finish his nap. I love when Scooby covers his face like this when he’s sleeping as well. Pretty adorable.

So when we came to this bear, we had been following signs for the giant panda, and we were incredibly excited to track him down. We saw a placard with giant panda info in German…and a cross that showed the giant panda’s birth date, and, presumably, date of death 😦 It was one of those, “1978-2012” kind of deals with a cross on it. While our Fat Tire Bikes tour guide Neil told us that he was pretty sure there was still a giant panda somewhere in the zoo, we certainly didn’t find one, and we felt like that was pretty convincing evidence that it had passed away. The one animal that most inspired us to go to the zoo … had died. I was super sad for the panda, but we kind of had to ashamedly laugh at the irony. I don’t know exactly why we laughed. I guess it was the slow realization that he was really dead as we put two and two together, even as we were standing where his shelter should have been. Sad panda.

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After walking away panda-free from the big cats enclosure, we found a park bench where we could rest our feet for a few minutes. While we were there, I snapped this swan shot from above. “Stop looking at me, Swan!” 

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In summary, if you’re super jet-lagged from a long flight to Berlin, the zoo may be the best place to get your bearings and see some incredible wildlife in the process. Even if they don’t have a giant panda anymore (jury’s still out* on that one), they have amazing lions, tigers, bears, and probably even Toto running around somewhere. I left with a big smile** on my face.

*Jury’s back. Panda dead.

**Even though the Panda was dead, the Zoo was a great way to spend a jet lagged afternoon. 

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One Response to “A trip to the Berlin Zoo”

  1. tapeparade October 17, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

    Ah great post guys!! And I’m the opposite of you Zack, I totally dig the reptiles. The way they move just fascinates me! Lizards and snakes 4tw. xxx

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