Monday, 31 December 2012

Hope Zoo - December 2012

Hope Zoo Jamaica -- December 30, 2012

Front entrance under construction
You will not recognise the entrance to Hope Zoo, it is being completely redesigned. As the zoo operator prepares the property to welcome more animals, the transformation continues with improvements to the picnic areas and also to the animal enclosures.

I have to say that a big part of the enjoyment of the gardens is that the view includes the prospect of the undisturbed hills behind it. The exquisite view from Hope Zoo is a backdrop of verdant mountainside. If any development is allowed there, that view will be lost forever. This view, in my opinion, should be considered by Jamaicans as part of the Hope Gardens experience, and be protected from construction development such as a housing estate. I reflect that the several areas of the Tuscany region of Italy that inspired Michaelangelo and other Renaissance artists, are protected and can still be enjoyed in their pre-industrial age condition today.

The entrance building now has an upper floor with a thatch roof that inspires thoughts of nature. The thatch theme continues throughout the property. I noted that the enclosure for Mr Alex the Capuchin monkey has been replaced with a new and more spacious enclosure. I admire the construction workers as they somehow carry out the heavy work that they have to do in a very gentle way around visitors.

Kiosks by parking lot are now closed
Another important development is that the parking arrangements at Hope Gardens have changed. Vehicles enter only from the gate that is nearest to Papine on Old Hope Road. The parking fee for the gardens is $200 per vehicle. Visitors to the zoo are exempt from this fee. The driver of the vehicle must tell the security guard at the entrance that he or she is visiting the zoo and will have to validate the ticket that will be issued at the walk in entry of the zoo, and return the ticket when driving out.

The budgie encounters happen in the afternoon on the hour until 4PM, and is a low impact introduction for the experience of touching birds. The attendant was very competent and made even the most hesitant of our group respond positively and overcome initial fears.  

Father Nature 
I did not go into the snake house, but reports are that there are a lot in there. The last time that I visited, several snake enclosures were being renovated.

What made this visit special is that the person behind the renovations was, as usual, on site monitoring all activities and greeting his guests. The greatest thrill was when he invited all the small children in our group in his golf cart and took them on a short ride. It was greatly appreciated by all of us Mr Benjamin, and your hospitality made this trip special for this reason.

The Happy Monk
The statue collection continues to expand with mostly copies of Asian sculpture from antiquity. I have still not warmed up to the headless deity at the entrance.
Original concrete lions are relocated
On a point of nostalgia: the concrete Trafalgar Square style lions that have guarded the zoo for decades have been relocated to a position of honour in the petting zoo area. New concrete lions have taken over their sentry duties. 

I am also pleased that the tradition of peacocks roaming free has returned. GH