by Poppy Louthan
In one of my many internet searches of Amsterdam, Artis jumped out at me. I quickly added it to my List of Things to Do While in Amsterdam. As the oldest zoo in the Netherlands, it is one of Amsterdam’s greatest prides. With carefully placed statuary and elegant landscaping, the park like setting of the zoo invites leisurely enjoyment every step along the way.
I’m used to American standards, which usually means that every possible precaution is taken to prevent patrons from suing for negligence. I suppose the Dutch expect that common sense matters when dealing with animals that might do bodily harm if you decide to invade their space. Instead of placing the animals completely out of reach (and nearly out of sight), they post helpful little reminders along the way. Also, many pathways were designed with beauty and esthetic interest in mind, and not necessarily navigability or absolute safety. I found these differences to be most welcome, and they definitely enhanced my enjoyment of the overall experience.
I went to the zoo by myself yesterday, on a semi-whim. Although I was looking forward to spending the afternoon roaming alone, I was delighted to run into some lovely friends. We ambled along the pathways together, sparking excitement in one another and valuing quiet moments. We visited the aquarium, said hello to the various camelids, searched for the elusive (document)elope, and eyed the lovely llamas. We admired the grace of the giraffes and flitted among the butterflies. We got to see some lions in action (in more than one manner of speaking), and watched a zoologist extraordinaire feed his penguin friends while the cranes fought for their chance at a whole fish.
All told, it was a lovely way to spend the afternoon, and I couldn’t help but hope to repeat the experience. Next time, though, I want my family to be by my side.