Zoos have long been an attraction for tourists and city residents alike. But what about a zoo where you’re encouraged to climb in with dangerous animals?
Some extraordinary holiday snaps have been appearing from visitors to the zoo at Lujan, 42 miles out of the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires: a woman sitting on the back of a lion, another bottle-feeding a young tiger, a 12-year-old boy getting close up and personal with a brown bear.
The zoo says it’s dedicated to the conservation of endangered species and adds that no-one has ever been injured through its interactive policy. The manager, Claudio Nieva, said: “We feed the animals so they aren’t hungry when a human is in the cage.”
But the animal protection charity, The Born Free Foundation, has condemned the zoo and urged tourists not to visit it.
The Foundation’s CEO, Will Travers, commented: “The zoo is, in my view, placing the lives of its visitors at great risk by encouraging them to have ‘close encounters’ with dangerous, potentially lethal, wild animals. Anyone who has any knowledge of big cats will understand that they are wild animals and, as such, are unpredictable.”
That doesn’t seem to have bothered various travel bloggers who’ve tried it. One said it was her best zoo experience yet.
by Andy Moreton
As well as the zoo, Lujan’s attractions include a large neo-Gothic Basilica, to which more than six million people make pilgrimages every year, many walking from Buenos Aires. Tour companies in the capital will arrange a day’s visit to the area and, of course, Luxique has the pick of luxury hotels in Buenos Aires.