As summer holidays are approaching and vacations near, this picture brings back memories. Apart from visiting historical sites, we would always check out the local zoo when visiting foreign cities. The great thing is, even though we are empty nesters now, our girls still want to go on family vacations together.
What was the trick to getting them so engaged? When our oldest one was just about a Kindergartener, we took her to museums. Well, needless to say, not every kid is into art, sculptures, and “stuffy” museum items. In order to get her excited and engaged, we provided her with a small digital camera. She was going wild and took pics of about anything she could spot.
Over the years, we introduced a little competition: Who in our family would get the best shot? That is when all of us started to pay more attention to the quality of each picture, being more selective, and trying to get “the award-winning shot”.
The picture above (which has been nicely framed!) was taken by our younger daughter in the Berlin Zoo in Germany. Unlike us grownups who all took the shot from the front to show the peacock’s beautiful plumage, my daughter took the shot from the back. This revealed a perfect symmetry of the quills. I love how kids think outside of the box!
Fun fact: Did you know that Berlin actually has two major zoos? One is in the former west and one in the east of Berlin. As the wall came down in 1989, this once divided city was reunited and now not only has two zoos, but also basically the double number of museums, operas etc.
As for the zoos, this was always a go-to place with our kids. Of course, there are pros and cons when it comes to the species-appropriate housing of animals. However, I believe that having the chance to see an elephant up close is a unique experience for any kid. It was for myself, and it ignited my interest in wildlife for sure. Thankfully, many zoos are adapting to include the needs of their animals. For example, in the Vienna Zoo the meat is hung on a zipline for the cheetahs to chase down.
Zoos also pay a big contribution to species conservation. The Bronx Zoo in New York is famous for saving the buffalo from extinction in the early 1900s. Bronx-bred buffalo were released to the plains as well as to National Parks and are now thriving. Also, several zoos from around Europe were able to achieve the successful return of the last truly wild horse, the Przewalski, to the Mongolian steppes where they had gone extinct. A Dutch neighbor of ours in China was part of that program.
Mind you, our family has also walked out of a couple of zoos, due to poor and heartbreaking housing conditions.
For more photo impressions check the section Travels on my website.