It’s been over six years since I’ve been to the zoo.
I know this, because the last time I went to the zoo it was for a specific event. My friend’s birthday to be exact. It wasn’t long before I left New Zealand for good, and I figured it’d be nice to take the day off to spend it with her. Flashback to two weeks earlier, when I found $70 lying on the ground outside a masonic temple. I then decided to use the money to make pot baking, and take it to the zoo for my friend’s birthday. Flash forward to the day before. Someone who won’t be named helped me buy it (I’ve never in my life bought pot from a dealer. As a 32 year old, I still wouldn’t know how and it’s my secret shame), and someone else who won’t be named helped me make a delicious infused chocolate caramel slice. We took a whole clip container full of the slices, brought a picnic lunch and had a marvellous day getting buzzed watching animals’ natural splendour in artificial habitats. It was an A+ experience, would do again.
I used to love the Auckland Zoo. I went there a ton of times. We’d go on class field trips maybe once every few years. My grandparents would take my best friend and I there each summer. I once helped out a crew for the 48 hour film competition, and we got special permission to film a bunch of scenes there for free. I’ve been here in Toronto for over six years now, and I still haven’t visited. Let’s see, what do I remember about the Auckland Zoo? Bullet Point Time:
- I went there once for an intermediate school trip. I bought a cookie from the cafe. It cost $3, which at the time seemed OUTRAGEOUS for a cookie. It was marbled, chocolate and vanilla. The cookie had a similar consistency to short bread. You know the kind where you take a gentle bite and a piece crumbles off into your mouth? I really loved the cookie, despite its high price, and vowed to get one the next time I visited as a special treat. Unfortunately, enough time had passed between visits that the cafe no longer sold said cookie.
- The playground had this really cool Chinese dragon. It got a bunch of facelifts and new coats of paint over the years, but it was always hugely popular. I remember being surprised at just how spiky its back was. Like, that thing was solid concrete. It’s probably why it’s lasted so many decades, but I’m sure it led to a bunch of bumps and scrapes.
- The polar bears. I used to love seeing the polar bears, but their history is kind of sad. The zoo could never really get the enclosure right, and the bears suffered. One drowned, another got shot trying to escape years back. A ton of them developed skin lesions and died. I remember being surprised to see green polar bears, but that was apparently part of their affliction. They phased them out in 1995, after realising they couldn’t give them a humane home.
- The aviary was amazing. It was this big enclosure with mesh fencing stretching in an arc above. The birds were free to fly in the space, and there were pathways that took visitors around. It wasn’t uncommon for a bird to land in a tree not far from you, so you could get a good look at them. They all had (comparatively, if we’re talking about cages as the alternative) a lot of room to fly, and it was neat to see them interact.
- Eventually they made an ape enclosure that was relatively similar. The various monkeys all had a ton of space to move, swing and interact. There were water features and cool stuff to do for them. They had a ton of facts about the different species, and it was awesome to be able to see the size/scale first hand.
- I always thought it was cool to see the lions being fed. They’d toss the lions these absolutely massive steaks. I definitely had my eye on those steaks. I wonder if I could actually eat one as an adult. I doubt it, but I wouldn’t say no if someone offered me one.
The Toronto Zoo is technically accessible, it’s just really far away. Once the weather warms up, I might take myself there on a day off. I’ve heard they have polar bears and everything.