Ishita is at that age where animals are starting to be really interesting to her, and we’ve been talking about going to a zoo for a while. Upon hearing constant negative feedback about the Byculla zoo in Mumbai we ruled it out completely and decided to drive to Pune this past Sunday. DH says he enjoy driving on the Mumbai Pune Expressway, and to be fair it’s scenic enough, you get to see the hills forming the Western Ghats, this Sunday they looked burnt and dry as the green magic from the monsoon generally leaves when Winter comes, giving them an arid dessert like look:
We left early on Sunday morning, and the drive was pleasant and fast, Ishita even dosed off for a while. We arrived at around 9am to Pune and headed to a friend’s place for breakfast before heading to the zoo after he gave us some directions to head there. Despite clear directions we faced the eternal Indian problem of getting lost as even in cities you won’t see much in way of road signs even if the place you are heading is a zoo that is clearly a touristic attraction. So I whipped out my smart phone to turn on the GPS to confirm what DH thought: we were on the wrong way. The problem persisted even with the help of technology as for same reason Google maps doesn’t list the Rajiv Ghandi Zoo in Pune, or any zoo at all. So we ended up asking directions a million time, with lot of locals apparently flummoxed by the fact we were asking for a zoo they probably didn’t know existed and Ishita was starting to loose patience as she was really into seeing some animals and snakes. We finally got pointed in the right direction and the GPS mystery explained itself as we passed the zoo…Google Maps only listed a vague “snake park” which is one of the attraction inside the zoological garden. Parking the car went somewhat easy, getting tickets was fast, and passing security just a tad too slow for Ishita who couldn't;t wait for the cop to take DH’s cigarettes away and marched forward leaving me panicky for a few seconds seeing the crowd and Ishita gone, fortunately she didn’t make it far and the cop let me run after her first before telling me where ladies should go get their purse checked. Ishita was already afraid not seeing us anywhere and the zoo experience started on the wrong foot for her.
Knowing that the Pune zoo has banned plastic and ask people to pay deposits on plastic bottles to prevent them from polluting the park I didn’t pack anything, Ishita’s water bottle is made of aluminium and was allowed inside without me paying anything. By then Ishita was clinging dear to DH and not too interested in looking around.
We headed to the snake park first knowing our reptile loving daughter would be cured of her bad mood instantly, but she ignored the monkey’s pit on the way there.
The snake park delivered, Ishita was exited to see crocodiles, turtles and snakes, they are her favourite and she has stuffed toys at home representing them. DH and I saw the snake park in Chennai in the past, and the Pune one is similar, though between the two I found the one in Chennai giving far more information about snakes and the species found in India than its Pune counterpart.
Here are some pictures I took there:
After getting Ishi back into a good mood with the reptiles we went seeing the other part of the zoo. Now like many zoos in India they only have indigenous species, don’t expect to see giraffes and zebras like you would in other big names zoos abroad. And I actually LOVE that part, I never really like seeing exotic animals in the zoos I visited in Switzerland, they felt out of place. The Pune zoo also has big enclosures that truly mimics the animal’s habitat, with the result that like us you might not get too lucky at seeing a lot of them, Ishita was a bit disappointed not seeing them clearly. We saw a porcupine, the bears were sleeping in the distance and both the white tiger and the orange one were sleeping in the back of their enclosure, DH and I could make out their presence in the tall grass knowing what to look for, Ishita could not, same with the resident leopard. By then Ishita was tired and not interested anymore so we called it quits not bothering to see the few remaining animals. The zoo normally has electric cars that makes it convenient for people with small children to roam around, but that day the service was not available so we were left walking with Ishita in our arms (she is heavy for such a little peanut that she is). The zoo doesn’t have a whole lot of animals but lots of trees and greenery, making it a great picnic spot from what we saw, and thanks to the plastic ban, it’s one of these few places I visited that is not littered with bottles and chips wrapper, the only food allowed inside should be wrapped in paper or reusable plastic boxes that I suspect people have to pay a deposit for at the entrance.
Here are the pictures I took of the zoo part :
The porcupine was staying in the shade as it had just been served some fruits by the zoo staff and was more interested in eating than walking around.
Some spotted deer I had to zoom on with my camera, enjoying the natural shade from trees, this was the maximum zoom on my camera, if it gives you an idea of how far they were.
This is a kind of big antelope called Sambar.
We drove back to Mumbai and Ishita feel asleep in her car seat, by the time we reached home I realised I was coming down with something, I had a sore throat for a day or two before, but was suddenly feeling body aches. I spent all of Monday with fever and feeling numb while Ishita was at home due to a school holiday that wasn’t a holiday for DH.