Lujan Zoo and a disappointing experience
The second time we were in Buenos Aires, Argentina had one and only reason: visit the famous and controversial Lujan Zoo. A very distinct place, that seems surprising to everyone that have the opportunity to look at some pictures. After all, is not everyday that you can face a lion without bars or pet a giant tiger.
Most people who visit Argentina do not even know that the Lujan Zoo exists. You can easily pass trough Buenos Aires without hear about it and the major tour agencies do not stamp their catalogs with this polemic destination. It is possible to hire tours with small agencies for up to US$100, however it is way cheaper to go on your own.
How to get to Lujan Zoo?
Like its name may suggests, the Lujan Zoo is not in Buenos Aires but 80 Km from it. Moved by our curiosity we went to the Plaza Itália, from where departs a regular bus to the town of Mercedes. This bus have front signs indicating the Lujan Zoo and is next to a kiosk where you can buy your tickets. Take the chance to buy also the return ticket right there. Cash is not accepted on buses and after hours at the zoo, vending machines and souvenirs, I don’t thing there will be coins left on your pocket.
What is the Lujan Zoo?
This might sound like a dumb question but once on Lujan Zoo the first impression you have is that the place is a junkyard with piles of cars, trucks, war vehicles and all sort of things that runs on gas.
After pay the bit expensive entrance tickets, which costs double price to foreigners, we were invited to purchase food to gooses, horses and other animal who wander around Lujan Zoo.
You also discover that the so called zoo, could be more related to a farm. Where the family that owns it deposit all stuff they like, including animals.
What is the matter with Lujan Zoo?
There is a lot of buzz regarding the Lujan Zoo. The most serious issue is the allegation that animals only tolerate the human presence because they are doped. If not, how could you explain it?
What you hear from every Lujan Zoo employee is:
Animals here are used to humans since they were babies. If you take a closer look, in every cage you can find dogs that are domesticated animals and help the wild ones to understand human interaction.
That sound reasonable, right? I mean, you raise a lion like a puppy and it will return the stick whenever you throws it. Indeed I was buying that explanation until after the baby lions cage. They were like strong cats and definitely not on drugs with such energy.
However, enter on those cages seemed nothing natural. The more we saw big mammals the less enthusiasm we got. They were all falling asleep, dizzy and whenever I got a response to any estimule given, there comes a Zoo Lujan employee with a bottle of a miraculous milk and quickly the beast was calm again.
Assure that the animals are doped may be a serious accusation but that is definitely our opinion. This video we did speaks for itself.
On the tigers’ cage was where we saw one animal behaving as it should. While the biggest one was lied on a one meter high table (falling asleep). A younger tiger was restless, walking in circles watching us, showing his teeth.
With everybody rushing to take pictures as fast as they can, a sloppy tourist got to close to the awaken tiger without notice, the big cat jumped on him causing everybody to leave the cage on a straightforward message: we are not welcome.
Leaving my shame behind. The idea of interact with animals was really great at the beginning and became more and more uncomfortable until the time we left. If you are planning to visit the Lujan Zoo, please consider:
- The animals are not in good conditions and the cages are very small.
- Baby lions don’t drink the sleep milk but they are “used” until get totally exhausted. Whenever one is too tired, there comes another in replace.
- The animals in good conditions are the ones that have no contact with humans, like deers. Coincidence?
- The place is reason of shame for some Argentinians as well. The friends I have there are totally against the Lujan Zoo.
The Lujan Zoo for us was a huge disappointment but it also served as a lesson to open our eyes regarding animal exploitation for entertainment reasons.