Visitors are often surprised to discover giraffes, zebras, hippos, giant pandas and even a polar bear lurking in the heart of Mexico City's Chapultepec Park. Not running around wild, of course, but in the spacious zoo located there, the largest in Latin America. Perhaps even more surprising is the fact that entrance is free of charge and anyone can walk around the savannah, jungle or temperate highlands when they want and be reminded of the immense diversity of animal life on our planet. This is particularly poignant in one of the largest cities in the world where another type of two-legged mammal and a wide variety of noisy, fume-emitting mechanical creatures inhabit the urban countryside in their millions and dominate life.
Although the zoo is sandwiched between two of the city's busiest arteries, Paseo de la Reforma and Constituyentes, the loud roar of traffic and bellowing of horns becomes a distant muffled sound as you enter the zoo. Spacious walkways shaded by abundant trees, bamboo and other vegetation lead around the world's main ecological systems where the different animals are housed, and where large aviaries are aflutter with birds. The only places you have to pay to go into are the mariposario, home to hundreds of butterflies which fearlessly waltz past you, and insects like giant scorpions, and the herpetario, full of shuddering snakes and giant anacondas.
Mexico City's zoo is in Chapultepec Park
The bears have a rushing waterfall
The giraffes in their area
A sea lion swims around rocks
You can watch the antics of the sea lions, polar bear and penguins under the water
Bright flamingos in the bird section
Jungle in the middle of Mexico City
Strolling around the zoo will take a good few hours if you want to see it all but a word of advice; avoid going at weekends or on busy school holidays or you'll be seeing a lot more of the two-legged homo sapiens species than other animals.
The other day I set off to do some errands in the city centre but, due to four simultaneous protest marches blocking my way, I had to change my plans and decided to go for a stroll in the zoo instead, a far more leisurely activity. Looking back at my photos, I wondered, "What if animals could talk? What would they be saying?". Take a look...
* * * * * *
"What?! Are you sure she said that?!"
"Mmmm....zzzzz....I wonder what on earth they put in the water today?!"
"Oh no! I must have got the hair removal cream mixed up with the shampoo!"
"Have you seen my upside-down, underwater grin?!"
"Hey guys! Come up here. There are some strange blue rocks over there!"
"OK, if you're not going to speak to me, I won't speak to you either!"
"Yeah, I know a great dentist. He fixed my teeth a couple of weeks ago. Aren't they great?"
"Hey, while they're not looking, let's make a dash for the open gate!"
"Come on, let me out of here. I didn't do nuffin' wrong!"
"Mummy, Daddy, look at me! I look like that pole, don't I?!"
"Admiring my beautiful body, eh?"
"I could sure do with a bit of ice in this hot sun. Anyone know where I can get some?"
"Now, remember what I told you. When you're sunbathing, always keep your head in the shade. That way you won't get those nasty headaches, OK?"
"These meditation sessions are really good, aren't they?"
"Ha ha! I just can't seem to get the hang of where these feet are supposed to go!"
"Now don't get stroppy with me! Just because I got picked for the leading part of Swan Lake instead of you!"
"All this playing around for the public is hard work, isn't it?!"
"If that ant comes any nearer, he's gonna disappear down my throat!"
"You know, I don't remember being given a nice sunshade like this in Arabia, do you? And it was much hotter there!"
"Hey! That was MY worm!"
"Wish I had someone my size to play with!"
"I'm sure this was where I lost it. It's gotta be somewhere around here!"
"Wow! That new hairdrier really is powerful and quick!"
"I'm the king of the castle, and you're a dirty rascal!"
"Hey, where d'you get those stunning wings? I'd like to get some like that too!"
"Mmmmm... this beats a Coronita on a nice hot day!"
"Just thinking to myself. Why are those people making funny faces at me?"
And a cute picture to end up with...