ARTIS ZOO 2014 | Amsterdam

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I blame all those Madagascar and Happy Feet movies.

It was too beautiful a day to pass up so despite being by my lonesome, I decided to make myself productive and spent most of the day at the impressive Amsterdam Zoo. Between that and lazing around at Vondel Park or window-shopping, I thought it was a far more interesting idea, and potentially less damaging to my bank account. Once I knew there wasn’t any rain in the forecast, two tram rides and 40 minutes later, I was in front of the main gate along with a handful of families and couples of all ages. Thankfully, I wasn’t feeling too lonely as I brought my inner-child along with me.

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Sunning meerkats, splitting giraffes and overly friendly pelicans were my company that morning. Unlike the penguins though, time flew by so fast I didn’t realize how long it’d been and found out it was already past lunch time. I had to stop for gas in front of the Bactrian camels before meeting up again with the rest of the locals.

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What a beautiful day, indeed! Even if I hate eating alone, I made the most of it by dining al fresco – under a blue, sunny sky and right in front of some pretty impressive mammals. Even as I’d completed a round of some outdoor creatures earlier, there were still a few important ones left, as well as tropical creatures from both in and out of water. I’d already been there over a couple of hours and only scratched the surface.

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The gorilla and chimpanzee enclosures left me feeling a bit uneasy. Seeing our closest animal relations display near-human-like behavior, standing there staring at them while they played, slept, fought, and at times stared back, left me thinking about how our place in this reality is pretty much a coin toss, and that it’s just a question of time when we’re the ones behind glass enclosures. It felt very Planet Of The Apes. After relaxing trips through the Butterfly Pavilion and the Aquarium, thankfully, I was back to being zen and fancy-free.

The last time I was here was almost three years ago and apart from some renovation works going on, I have to say the place still looks impressive. Granted the 20 Euro entrance fee may be on the high side, I can imagine that keeping the place in shape costs a pretty penny. And it may have just been me but I did get the sense the animals were a little more lively compared to the last time, something I can only attribute to the relatively warm, sunny weather. I did have some trepidation that my excursion would be flooded with kids, and families with baby buggies, but it turned out to be quite a leisurely and stress-free day. I found Nemo, saw the Lion King, and met more than a few Bambis. It was a good four hours well spent.

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