This year, the elementary school I work at, had its class trip to the Guadalajara Zoo. Never one to miss an adventure, I signed us up. Overall, it was a nice experience and one I would reccomend for tourists visiting Mexico.
Despite the agonizingly long bus trip to and from Guadalajara, the class trip to the zoo went pretty well. The animals seemed well cared for. There were even babies in evidence, showing adequate food and living conditions.
The aquarium was small but nice. The penguin exhibit seemed a bit lacking in penguin stimulation opportunities. A snow slide or two would have been nice. Maybe a dancing penguin. Nope. Nothing like that happened here.
There were two shows available, birds and reptiles. Both were short and entertaining even though there was some snake kissing going on.
The sky zoo was out of commission, but my son said that was just as well. They seemed a bit rusty and unreliable to him.
The “train” ride wasn’t really worth it. It went entirely too fast and the same route can be covered on foot. These animals were in smaller enclosures, not in an open area like the safari.
The Safari Masai Mara was much better than BioParque. Our guide almost seemed authentic with his brightly colored robes on and dashes of Swahili in his scripted presentation. The animals had both shade and adequate water. They didn’t seem listless and hungry.
The giraffes were mighty friendly. Also more ecologically sound was the fact that our guide gave us handfuls of food to feed the giraffes rather than a cup, reducing our ecological footprint (again, unlike BioParque).
The Rancho Veterinario was pretty lame. There were a handful of small animals behind glass, Shetland ponies, mini-donkeys, a Clydesdale, a cow and a hairy pig. La Yacata has more variety. Although there was a short discussion about what it means to take care of animals, the animals were not interested in interacting with the students and the students seemed abnormally horrified at all the pooping going on. This part can be skipped completely.
The food was typical fast food, greasy and overpriced. You are allowed to bring your own food into the park, so that is what I would recommend. Souvenirs are 3 times what you can get at a regular store, but better quality than most. We bought a little Masai drum to add to the Jaguar whistle and Carved Skull from Teotihuacan.
One bit of the trip that made my heart soar was the fact that so many of the kids referenced something we had discussed in English class when seeing the animals. In fourth grade, we just finished discussing extinct and endangered species. When we passed the mountain goat section, a fourth grader shouted out that the Pyrenean Ibex was extinct. In fifth grade, we are discussing forms of communication. We watched the video about Koko and gorilla sign language. That topic came up as we passed the gorilla enclosure. In third grade, we just finished discussing animal abilities with can and can’t. Of course, the students already knew that the giraffe can clean its ears with its tongue and that penguins can’t fly. Even my lackluster student in sixth pointed out that a certain bridge would be perfect for bungee jumping (extreme sports being our current theme). Validation as a teacher!
However, as I mentioned, that LOOOOONG trip there and back prevents it from being a repeated activity, at least for us.