Vallarta Zoo

One day during our first week in Puerto Vallarta we were hanging around the Starbucks downtown. It is one of our favorite places to meet other English speakers and you can get a wealth of information while enjoying a latte. Well, at least for me who has no problem starting a conversation with perfect strangers. We visited with a man who had lived in PV for several years and discussed where we should be sure to visit. He gave us a lot of suggestions, but the one we hooked onto was the zoo. So we made another trip to the south. The zoo is very different from the zoos in the US. I don't mean that in a good or bad way, just different. Okay, so it's the same in that there are a lot of animals you don't run into daily around town, but that is about where the similarity ends. One of my favorite differences is that some of the animals are not caged at all and those that are caged can often times reach you (or you can reach them). We are walking down the first ramp and one of the first enclosures we come to is a panther area. The panther is lounging against the wires that are not quite an arms length away from us. The bars are made of re-bar that is spread about 2 inches apart. If you're getting the picture you can see that I can easily reach out and touch the panther between the bars. It was quite the dilemma and discussion. Do you or do you not touch the panther? It's right there, there are no signs that discourage it, there are bars to protect me provided I can move my hand back faster than the panther can turn over and strike. Sure, why not?  So, I tentatively reach out and give a little poke above the bottom. That same spot my house cat loves to be scratched. The panther stretches a little and seems ready for a good scratching, so ... I oblige. Where in the US could you scratch the back side of a panther? Feeling completely satisfied, we continued through the zoo. There is so much to see. At another enclosure I bravely reached out to pet the black bear. That is not something I would recommend. Evidendly the the bear woke up on the wrong side of the den because he was less than amicable. I stopped along the path after leaving the grumpy bear and not feeling the need to pet any more wild animals and was taking a picture of a beautiful large black and white butterfly. Stunning! As I was getting the perfect shot the giraff reached over the short wall and decided to take a taste of my hair. Probably not used to the blonde variety and decided to see if it was different than the darker hair. All in all, the zoo has a lot to offer when it comes to up close and personal with the critters. On the other hand, there are some unpleasant smells that come along with the experience. Again, not quiet like back in the states. With that said, I would have to consider whether or not to swim in the sea where the water washes down from the zoo. Probably not the cleanest part of the bay. Just sayin'!
As far as accessibility, I'd say not so much. The ramps are steep and if there is a little rain then they are also slick. If you could only access part of the zoo though, it might be worth it. We had the opportunity (for a fee) to hold the week old tiger kittens. There were actually a variety of babies that you could spend time with. That is priceless and could be enjoyed without all of the ramps.

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