Sunday, September 25, 2016

"Zoo" comparison

As of yesterday we have visited four of the many animal parks in the area: the Pretoria Zoo, the Johannesburg Zoo (yesterday), the Cheetah Center, and the Rhino and Lion Reserve.

Princess immediately tells me she liked the Cheetah Center best. "I wanted this [plush] baby cheetah and then I fell in love with it."

Four out of five Watsons, however, pick the Rhino and Lion Reserve. John-Thomas says "I want lion again. Zeeba. Ride in truck. Want cheetah again." Superstar, after much contemplation, initially voted for the Pretoria Zoo, then switches to the Rhino and Lion Reserve. "Because the lions. I also like it because I got [my plush lion] Fuzzy." Joy liked seeing the baby rhino and "because we got to see the animals in families and living together. It felt really loving and unifying." I liked having the fewest fences between me and the animals.

We are glad we went to each of them because they have their own strong points:

  • Pretoria Zoo has the most beautiful grounds, you can rent a golf cart to drive around, and they have the best collection of birds. 
  • The Joburg Zoo has the best collection of monkeys and apes and the best collection of South American animals. They also have slides, jungle gyms, and other playgrounds every few minutes' walk away (if you like that kind of thing).
  • The Ann van Dyk Cheetah Center had the most knowledgeable guides, you can get the closest to the cheetahs and wild dogs, and the best gift shop. They have separate tours for groups with small children (because they look like LUNCH to the cheetahs) to keep them safe and still show them around. They also have the most environmentally-friendly mission.
  • The Rhino and Lion Reserve is partway between a zoo and a nature reserve. They very cleverly put water and food next to the road so that animals congregate where they are easy to see. There are the fewest fences between you and the animals. Several people called it the poor man's safari - it's kinda like a safari, but you're guaranteed to see the animals and it costs 1/5 as much, in exchange for which you are on a more controlled environment.
Even though R&L has cheetahs and wild dogs, we came away very thankful we had already been to the cheetah center to see both of them and learn more about each. We are glad that we got to see so many different places - one just doesn't do it justice.