After a day full of museums, it was time to take the boys to their natural habitat - a zoo! We weren't sure what to expect from the Madrid Zoo but we did know one important fact, the Madrid zoo has PANDA BEARS. Quinn was ecstatic to say the least.
The zoo was too far to walk to so we called a taxi and headed to a new part of the city, a part that was much more suburban. On the drive we saw some schools, some parks and playgrounds, and a much more residential, all be it still apartments, part of the city.
The entrance to the zoo felt a lot like when we went to the Tampa Zoo. Very wooded and green and pretty lush. Past the main gate, it wasn't quite as beautiful as the entrance but it was still good just the same.
- 3 giant pandas, two of them awake, doing panda things - walking around, climbing trees and eating bamboo.
- Giant ant eaters - we've never seen them before. They were asleep, but they still get checked off the list.
- 2 baby Asian elephants. Quinn had never seen Asian elephants before, only African so he was sure to tell us all the major differences.
- Baby gorillas and chimpanzees (in different enclosures of course).
- Sea lion show, exotic bird show, dolphin show. This zoo also had a small aquarium attached and did a sea world like show with their 9 dolphins on exhibit.
- Sloth bear
- "American animals" - on exhibit they had several bison and even an enclosure with raccoons, which seems pretty silly, but it's not every day you see a gaggle of raccoons staring right back at you.
- Food - we ate lunch at the zoo. Not a single gift shop or concessions stand opened until well after, maybe 2 in the afternoon and by then we were starving. But, when we finally found, along with everyone else at the zoo, the one food stand that was open it was surprisingly good. Madrid was huge on burgers and fries and the only thing the zoo offered for food was - yes - burgers and fries.
Zoo low lights:
- Many of the animal exhibits and enclosures were very old fashioned. Lots of concrete, little shade, no visible animal enrichment. My little zoologist was pretty upset by a lot of the stuff he saw because he's used to seeing animals at American zoos. The tiger looked sickly and the sloth bear (which we'd never seen before) looked very sad and lonely on his concrete perch.
- The zoo had grizzly bears. Four of them. They were the biggest bears I have ever seen in my life. The four bears were much too large to be all together and they were definitely people trained. They were begging for food from spectators and people were obliging.
- Humans. We were the only people at the zoo I heard speaking English, but there were more languages being spoken during our visit than I probably could ever guess. But....BUT, there were so many people who were harassing animals, poking animals up close to fences and FEEDING THE BEARS. It was sad and awful. The boys were so distraught that people were clearly breaking the rules of the zoo and Quinn and Wyatt wanted us to find someone to complain to, but I'm not sure we saw a zoo keeper the entire time we were there.
We were at the zoo a long time. Like, maybe 6 hours? I was so surprised at the amount of time but it was a nice way to spend the day - in spite of the "sad" parts. After the zoo, we got another cab and headed to another new part of town. We were dropped off at a small church - the burial site of Francisco Goya. There were no cameras allowed and the small chapel was guarded by two over bearing women in black, but it was truly beautiful. Goya had painted all the fresco's on the ceilings and was entombed in the front of the church (is that part called the nave?). I was a little nervous that the boys were going to knock something over in this church and get us into trouble, but luckily our quick visit was incident free.
After the church we walked down a very busy street towards a train station that also had a mall. We got a small treat, rested our feet and then got another cab to take us back to our apartment.