Tuesday, 6 February 2018
Catch-up post: Planckendael with Charlotte
This post is such a total catch-up, because it's about the visit to Planckendael with my BFF Charlotte.
Which happened on Thursday, the 19th of OCTOBER last year.
Shame on me, but hey, better late than never.
Here be animals!
We had been given free tickets (well basically my brother in law has an annual pass to the zoo with his family, and he gave tickets to his parents and they gave them to Bert, who gave them to me to go to the zoo with Charlotte).
Bert and I had been together in August, and he didn't particularly feel like going again.
And of course, we were grateful because the weather was glorious and we knew the zoo wouldn't be crowded at all, so it seemed like an excellent way to spend the day!
We got there just after lunch, and that may seem quite late, BUT bare in mind that on a random October afternoon, there's hardly any people about, so you don't loose a lot of time waiting for your turn to see the animals.
So you can see a lot more in a lot less time than you'd normally need.
We saw everything bar the Europe section, because we had ZERO interest in seeing rabbits.
Yes, rabbits. They recently replaced the red fox and badgers with ...rabbits.
And not a special kind of rabbit either, just bog standard rabbits you can see in any pet store or at a friend's home. Not even hares, bog standard pet shop rabbits.
Whilst we have nothing against rabbits, don't get me wrong, we didn't go to the zoo to see them, so that's why we focussed on everything else instead.
This particular piece of décor is sort of apt to the area it's in (although the cheetah's aren't that near the giraffes but that aside), but there is ZERO explanation that goes with it.
So it has zero educational value.
Only people that know about African animals will know that a cheetah often puts a kill up in a tree so it doesn't get stolen by e.g. lions and hyenas.
A thing I do want to say about Planckendael is that I'm not really that keen on the zoo.
It's a lot better than the Antwerp Zoo, I will say that ... at least they do their best to provide decent cages for the animals. And at this point most of them have proper housing.
Contrary to the Antwerp Zoo, where they 100% put visitor comfort over animal comfort, which is just point blank disgusting.
My issue with Planckendael is not really that, because like I said, they have done a lot of efford to get the cages up to date and sorted out, and it's a work in progress still.
My issue is that at least once each year you'll hear on the news, on radio and tv and anywhere they can get it out, that they are struggling financially. Whilst they spend TONS of money on making the zoo look like a themepark.
Which NO ONE, literally NO ONE is waiting for!
Especially not because when it's super busy, you won't notice the décor anyway because you're too busy avoiding stepping on all the children the parents are paying absolutely ZERO attention to.
When I go to Disneyland Paris, THEN I expect beautiful scenery.
When I go to the zoo, any zoo, I expect to see cool animals in cages that suit them, clean toilets and a place to eat food. It doesn't even have to be a restaurant, just a covered area with some benches to picnic in will do.
Some of the BEST zoos I've visited are like that.
Bioparco di Roma has like one café inside the zoo and a restaurant and shop right at the entrance. Aside from that they have a few vending machines and picnic areas and that's it.
But the cages are BEAUTIFUL and they have really invested in educational information about all their animals + information about how they contribute to conservation.
Same story with the Amiens Zoo. Which has a tiny little shop at the entrance which is only open during peak times, a few picnic areas and vending machines. But all their animals have amazing habitats and they look super happy.
Incidently, ticket prices at these zoos are MUCH lower than they are at parks of the Antwerp Zoo conglomerate (which also owns Aquatopia and Serpentarium on top of Planckendael), because you're not paying for all the guest luxuries you don't even need to begin with.
Also, a zoo does NOT need more than one playground (frankly I feel it doesn't need one at all, but I can understand how it's fun to have one). It really doesn't. But Planckendael has at least three.
Because clearly, when you take children to a zoo, them being able to access a playground is more important than them seeing the actual ANIMALS! (Yes, this REALLY annoys me).
This Australia section house may look very pretty, but it's filled with cages that are far too small for the animals inside. Which is a disgrace really.
There's also ZERO supervision from zoo staff, so you can be sure that there's tons of people rapping and rapping on the glass and ignoring the “no tapping the glass” signs all the way.
So yeah, that's what I dislike about Planckendael, it's focussed on all the wrong things. Sure, it's a great place to walk around in and take photos of the animals, but when push comes to shove, it's more to do about money than it is about actual conservation and it doesn't sit well with me. Which is why I only go when I have free tickets. No need to let free tickets go to waste, after all.
Plus then I can go and have a reason to write blog posts like this to warn people about what they're walking into when they want to go visit.
Ranting aside, here's some animal photos :).
Of course we didn't go to the zoo to see koi fish either, but these guys are all over the waterways in Planckendael so I snapped a photo as I passed them by at some point.
The Asia pavillion is basically an inside greenhouse which ends up in a restaurant.
I'm not gonna lie, it does look very pretty.
It's mostly full of plants and birds, but in the downstairs area there's some nocturnal animals.
Of course, there's hardly ever proper supervision there and so a lot of people are super flash happy. Even when we were there we saw someone flash at the animals!
But yeah that's what you get when you blow your budget on scenery rather than employees.
One of the attractions is the tree walk, which is pretty cool.
It lets you look into the elephant compound from the trees.
But they were all around another area so that's why that photo is without actual elephants.
We did take photos of elephants really early on in our visit.
We ended our visit with a stop at the gift shop, because we needed to pay for parking.
And there Charlotte found this really derpy plush cobra. Because she had been looking for something like this for years, she bought him.
I promptly named him Salazar even before he was paid for haha.
So yeah, despite my issues with how the zoo is run, we had a really awesome time hanging out and looking at the animals.
Especially with the weather being so lovely, it was an excellent way to spend the day.
Would totally do it again, but only if I had free tickets because until the Zoo gets it's priorities straight, they're not getting my money (other than for parking).
All of the photos of the day are here, for those that want to see more photos of how the zoo looked that day. Or if you want to look at more animal pictures. Because there's a bunch more :).
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