Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Phoenix actually has two zoos.  One is the Phoenix Zoo, a nonprofit facility that is centrally located and that I have reported on before (see post of 3/8/13).  The other is the Wildlife World Zoo, which is a for-profit facility located about 20 miles west of central Phoenix.  We decided to visit the WWZ on the advice of strangers whom we sat next to at a spring training game.

This zoo was interesting in that it gave us an opportunity to compare the two types of facilities.  The WWZ is smaller than the Phoenix Zoo but has packed in a lot of animals.  It has some features that are more attractive, including that the animals are generally viewable at closer range.  It also included a relatively large aquarium with some fairly exotic species on display and a "petting" area, where one can pet stingrays (which felt slimy, by the way) and starfish (which did not).  But here are some drawbacks.  There were no elephants, which are very labor-intensive to maintain, or large primates, such as chimps, baboons, or orangutans, which presumably are more difficult also to house.  In addition, although the zoo boasted thousands of animals, a large percentage were birds.  Moreover, the same species were housed in different enclosures in different parts of the facility, creating a little confusion.  And the grounds were generally not as well manicured as at the Phoenix Zoo.  The birds were noisy, particularly those in the macaw/parrot family, which was actually a nice thing, as it added to the "ambience."  This clearly was a place to view animals, not a facility for their study.

I took a lot of photos during our three-hour stay but would have to say that I was a bit disappointed with the results.  Again, for the usual reasons (read "excuses"):  Many of the exhibits were screened cages, which obscured the camera's view and confused its autofocus feature.  In addition, I had trouble with the lighting in the interior venues, particularly the aquarium.  In any event, here are some of the better shots that I got.

There was a flock of very dark colored flamingos near the entrance.

They must have been feasting on a lot of orange colored shellfish.

And, as I mentioned, there were plenty of parrots and macaws.

The aquarium included some interesting exotic species.

There was also a "Dragon World"--basically reptiles.

Although the zoo lacked elephants, it did have a nice white rhinoceros.

As usual, I found myself looking for the unusual close-up, and this shot of the rhino's ear came out well, I thought.

The primates we saw seemed unhappy behind their wire cages.

Two of the more interesting species were the warthogs . . .

(a face only a mother warthog could love)

. . . and the African spurred tortoises.

Wildlife World Zoo was quite a bit more expensive (50% higher) than the Phoenix Zoo.  With all the wire cages, I felt a bit uncomfortable with how the animals were presented, although they seemed to be in good physical health.  In sum, I would recommend the Phoenix Zoo over the WWZ.

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