Sunday, October 18, 2015

Izmir Zoo

Someone had recommended the zoo to me at some point during the past four months here, but I forgot about it until this past week.  Somehow, it came up with my students and they told me that it was definitely worth going. Since we didn't have any other plans, I figured we should go check it out this weekend. 

I was a little hesitant because I didn't know what kind of shape a zoo in Turkey would be.  I went to the Jacksonville Zoo when I lived there and almost left in tears because of how small the bear's cage was.  He actually looked depressed.  There are tons of good zoos out there (the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk is one of my faves!) that do a ton of good for animal preservation, but there are also pretty bad ones.  Mike says the one in Cairo is pretty dismal.  Therefore, I was hesitant about going, just to be disappointed and upset. The fact that the entrance fee was only 3TL (~$1) didn't do much to calm my fears.

When we arrived, we were SHOCKED to see how many people were there.  Usually, Sundays are extremely quiet.  The street outside of our house that has tons of restaurants and bars is almost always dead until around three or four.  We thought the zoo would be the same.  We were so wrong.  There were tons of people there.  Dealing with crowds in Turkey is always an experience because the lack or order always shines through.  People don't respect lines and tend to just get in front of you.  Add in a bunch of strollers and you've got yourself a danger zone. 

Luckily, we did manage to make it into the zoo unscathed, but the crowd definitely didn't die down.  There were tons of people everywhere.  They would jump in front of you at a window in front of an exhibit and personal space was really no issue, especially if there was a selfie stick involved.  

Despite all of this, we enjoyed our visit to the zoo.  The animals had a lot of space in most of their areas and while there wasn't a ton of grass, that didn't surprise me.  There isn't a ton of grass in Turkey, so I didn't really expect much.  The animals were moving around and seemed to be happy (unlike my Jacksonville Bear).  

It's not the biggest zoo or definitely not the nicest I've been to, but it definitely exceeded my expectations. 

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Some of Karen the Camel's friends.  

Well hello Mr. Elephant.
Chillin' like a villain
Snakes snuggling
Can you see the lion in the shade on the left?
I feel like we've done almost all of the touristy spots in Izmir and the surrounding area, but we haven't ventured out to as many of the local hotspots.  At the zoo, I'm pretty sure we were the only non-Turks there, so we were definitely among the locals.  It's not in the middle of town and is an hour ride on public transportation (we drove), so I think that definitely cuts down on the tourists.  I think if we go back, we'll try to go during the middle of the week, just to cut down on the crowds, but it was a good afternoon excursion for sure.

Also, probably the bigger highlight of my day is that COLLGE GAMEDAY IS COMING TO JMU!  They'll be there next weekend for Homecomimg as the Dukes take on the Spiders.  We're undefeated this season and Richmond is one of our biggest rivalries.  GO DUKES!