Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Antwerp Zoo... to go, or not to go?

I had heard mixed things about the Antwerp Zoo. From "The animals are in small cages and it's very small." to "It's great. I love taking the kids there. Actually, we have an annual membership."

It was time to see for myself. Granted, it was already 3 PM and it takes is 40 minutes to get there, but I was a woman on a mission. Call it a spontaneous adventure, if you will.

Let me start by saying that the zoo's parking arrangements (none) leave a lot to be desired. This is, of course, to be expected given it's central location. We parked in the downtown 'Diamant' parking garage, about 10 minutes walk from the zoo iteself. (Disclaimer: double strollers do not fit in the elevator of this garage -- which resulted in quite the scene - taking kids out, folding stroller, tilting upwards, and voila! we were on our way down. So very Europe).

A short walk later, upon arriving at the zoo, we came to one very simple conclusion. It's magnificent. The animal roster includes trumpeting elefants (and an adorable suckling 2-month-old calf), kissing giraffes, pacing tigers, pensive chimpanzees, and so much more. And incidentally, for zoo standards I thought the enclosures were fairly generous.

It was obvious that they've gone through great lengths to modernize the zoo, but the great part was that you could still see that it was old. In fact, it's been around for 160 years now, and this is evident in the architecture throughout the zoo and its gardens. I loved that.

We only had a couple hours at the Antwerp Zoo, but I give it two thumbs up... and Lukas, my globe-trotting 3-year-old, does too!

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