A visit to the Zoo

A visit to the Zoo

“Look Pa, a Tiger! Can we take it home….please Pa!!….I promise I’ll take good care of him….please Pa!!!!!!” If you’ve ever taken your child to the zoo, you probably remember the untamed enthusiasm, the giggles, and all the curious questions and last month was a return to the zoo with my lovely 10 year old daughter Ria.

We’ve been to the zoo many times but for my children the charm hasn’t faded….not yet at least….and this time too my daughter was so excited….and looking at her just made me smile…..a trip that cost me Rs 30 as entrance fees (Rs 20 for me and Rs 10 for her) and a coke for Rs 30 in financial terms but the amount of enrichment it gave to her in terms of being exposed to the wildlife was beyond any measurement.

The Delhi zoo is located in a huge area spanning more than 200 acres in the midst of New Delhi. The ticket counters are a big letdown and unruly crowds, shabby offices, iron grills (what do they need that for?) that separate you and the ticket man and the small opening through which you exchange money for tickets tend to give an initial impression that the place may not be worth a visit. But once you’ve done through with all this ignoring the blaring speakers (the announcer tends to forget at times that he is using a sound system) and entered the zoo it’s a drastic change. Walk about 100 meters and you feel the serenity of the place and soon the mood changes to a pleasant one. The serenity and the greenery here seem very pleasing and offer a delightful respite from the humdrum of the city.

The zoo has been quite well maintained in terms of cleanliness….well, I could spot the odd coke bottles or empty juice cartons thrown here and there but I think the onus of maintaining the cleanliness lies on all the visitors rather than just the zoo officials especially when dustbins have been installed at regular intervals along the paths. It certainly is a bit of a letdown to see quite a few enclosures empty (the reptile house had just two turtles walking over their food bowl) but then the idea was to have a nice and leisurely walk in the midst of the city and yet surrounded by the wonders of nature. The greenery, the peaceful environment, migrating birds from Russia, the awe inspiring giraffes and the magnificent Lion…….it’s just simply wow!!

The zoo in New Delhi closes its ticket counters at 1600 hrs sharp such that the inflow of visitors is limited towards the closing time…..no handbags are allowed inside such that eatables don’t find a way into the cages of the animals. There are ample stalls for beverages all over the zoo……Battery charged buses run inside the zoo charging about Rs 35 per person and they take a full round of the zoo with regular stopovers at various enclosures….I haven’t tried it out myself as we preferred walking but it does seem to be a good facility provided to people who are not in a position to walk much.

My suggestion would be to avoid going to the Delhi zoo on a weekend or a national holiday…..it gets a bit too overcrowded and then the place tends to lose a bit of its charm….its crowded and noisy and if you plan to have a idle and quiet walk instead of being in the midst of a carnival then the weekends are best avoided. Visits are best in winters when the heat in New Delhi is not so oppressive and the animals venture out in their enclosures basking in the body warming sunshine. Check this site for more information http://nzpnewdelhi.gov.in

What we seldom realize is that when you are two, three or four years old, a trip to the zoo or a visit from the neighbor’s dog is more than just fun: it’s also a learning experience for your child. I think we owe this to our children…..an exposure to the natural things in life…..instead of posting useless updates on Facebook, decapitating Stupid Zombies or running away from monkeys on Temple Run…..we must let them know how beautiful this world is and expose them to the masterful creations of God.

Children have a natural urge to pet animals, feed them, and talk to them. It’s a fascination that runs much deeper than simple curiosity. Children use animals to practice their emotional skills; the ability to understand and respond to the needs and feelings of others. I simply can’t imagine that inundating a young child with books about pieces of furniture instead of animals would create a passion for chairs and tables that could rival that for dogs and cats!

Which is more fun? ……….’Jump!’ or ‘Bounce like a kangaroo!’?………. ‘Run’ or ‘Run as fast as a cheetah!’? Mimicking animal movements is imaginative and fun, providing an ideal stimulus for varied physical exercise and development. Children can also learn how to be gentle with insects and small animals, to move slowly so as not to scare timid creatures, as well as stroking, patting, holding, cupping hands for feeding, and tickling.

That is why a trip to the zoo is a great learning experience for small children. Here, they can explore the animal world first-hand. Go from cage to cage and see for themselves how the animals look, what they eat and what their young look like. A trip to the zoo is a small lesson in sorting and organizing the world.

So all you parents who think that these places are best visited by ‘locals’….think again…..you are not doing justice to your children nor to yourself. I feel it is the responsibility of the parent to see that their children get an all round development….take your kids to the zoo….and am sure you would love it….if not enjoy your children loving it. 

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