Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Zoo Ave

Twenty years ago, Zoo Ave (ZOH AH-vay), or “Bird Zoo” opened in La Garita to feed, shelter, and provide health care for mistreated and orphaned birds and animals here in Costa Rica. The zoo’s goal is to rehabilitate animals and release them back into the wild, but some creatures still find a permanent home at Zoo Ave.

While the zoo is named for its birds (all 120 species of them), it boasts more than 250 types of animals. This non-profit organization also teaches visitors about conservation and the importance of caring for our world—a very worthwhile cause.

Our most recent trip to Zoo Ave was with my mom and dad. It was a beautiful (but hot!) sunny day—really nice for seeing the incredible macaws, toucans, monkeys, cats, and even ostriches.

It’s fun to see the animals that roam freely, too. We got quite close to a toucan that wasn’t caged (what a thrill!) and wonder if he was just visiting friends. On a previous visit were so near a sloth coming down a tree we could have picked him up. Peacocks, iguanas, agoutis … all make their way around this gorgeous park filled with trees, exotic flowers, tangled vines and giant bamboo. (Speaking of … It’s hard to explain how really amazing this bamboo is! It reaches way up—about 50 feet or so—and as the bamboo is blown by the wind it makes a freaky creaking sound like a tree that’s going to crash to the ground. It’s eerie and cool to stand and listen. Erin looks tiny in the photo standing next to the bamboo.)

A couple of years ago we saw this alligator at Zoo Ave, right up against the fence. I could have stuck my hand through and touched it, but instead I took a super close-up shot of its eye, right through the chain link. Now once in a while, someone in this family sees something interesting and calls out “crocodile eye!” with this excited whisper. It’s weird, but funny, and always reminds me of the alligator (not croc, actually!) we saw so close.

Of all the things I'll miss when we leave here, the amazing animals, trees, flowers, mountains and beaches are what I think I will long for most.