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Extra extra friendly zoo

Close Encounters An Outdoor // Nature Blog

Go cheek to whisker at Argentina’s Lujan Zoo

The wisdom—and track record—of the zoo is hotly debated

by Shannon Dybvig
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Many of the animals here are former illegal house pets that are given to the zoo after outgrowing their homes. Image by Zoo De Lujan

With the weather getting warmer, it’s time to get back outside and reconnect with the wildlife—and no place will let you get closer to the wildest of wild things than Lujan Zoo in Argentina. Located just outside Buenos Aires, Lujan Zoo provides zoogoers the opportunity to bottle feed a bear, cuddle a tiger, or rub noses with a lion, and, if these pictures are accurate, walk away un-mauled. While many visitors assert the animals are clearly drugged, the zoo insists the tameness is entirely natural, a product of raising each cub from birth and teaching them to be calm, permissive, and uninterested in eating humans.

Since opening in 1994, there have been no reports of unexpected predation, but whether that perfect record is due to good training, luck, or bribery of authorities is hotly debated.  Check out this extreme petting zoo below, and remember, the Lujan Zoo is one of the only places in the world where you can pet wild animals, an extremely dangerous activity that you should not take lightly and should never try outside the confines of such facilities.


The zoo says that, in addition to training, keeping the animals constantly fed helps to maintain calm passivity. Image by Zoo De Lujan Con Las Superguias


Lujan Zoo received these brown bears when they were just two months old. Now full grown, the zoo assures they still enjoy bottle feeding, or eating food offered directly from visitors’ mouths. Image by Zoo De Lujan Con Las Superguias


Even tigers need belly rubs. Lujan Zoo currently holds more than 60 of these stripy felines. Image by Zoo De Lujan Con Las Superguias


Lions were part of the inaugural menagerie when the park opened in 1994, along with a monkey, two donkeys, two ponies, llama, deer, and some peacocks. Image by Zoo De Lujan Con Las Superguias


Even though visitors go cheek to whisker with big cats daily, Lujan Zoo has reportedly never had an accident. (While the observant may notice the scratches on this woman’s side, it is unknown where they came from.) Image by Zoo De Lujan Con Las Superguias


Not all residents are furry. Lujan Zoo hosts two female elephants in addition to a wide variety of reptiles and birds. Image by Zoo De Lujan Con Las Superguias


If you’re not one to trust a tiger, Lujan Zoo does offer tamer fare, such as camel and pony rides. Image by A. Pereira


Lujan Zoo has animals of all ages and welcomes humans of all ages. Children under 12 are admitted at a reduced rate and those under 2 get in free. Image by Zoo De Lujan Con Las Superguias


Would you all go here or do you think it's a front for the United Animal Federation? IDK I might pet the lion. tiger, or bear, but no way in hell would I feed it from my mouth or sit my toddler down with a bunch of cubs. Yes, they are adorable and cuddly but just one of them is as big as the baby.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 3rd, 2013 04:08 am (UTC)
I don't put my face up to anyone or anything (okay, except my cats. Lol).

I love animals. I love them way more than people. But an animal is an animal. They can be the sweetest thing in the world and all of the sudden they'll snap. They might hear/smell/see something that just bugs them out and they go off (their sense are stronger than ours). Plus, most people don't really understand animal behavior. Animals will show signs of aggression and you would never even know (I'm a former vet tech, so I had to deal with all this stuff).

And I'm sorry, but I want to smack every parent that lets their pet/random animal lick their babies all in the face. I know of a few people who have done this, and it almost ended really, really bad.

Edited at 2013-04-03 04:10 am (UTC)
Apr. 5th, 2013 10:51 pm (UTC)
Apr. 3rd, 2013 01:34 pm (UTC)
No interest for many, many reasons. I get that these animals will probably never be able to go back into the wild, but I feel it's still dangerous for them to be exposed to this much human contact. Animals are unpredictable, and large animals are especially dangerous and hard to control. This seems like a great way to expose the animals to diseases they may not be able to fight off. This seems like a great way to expose humans to disease they may not be able to fight off.

Also, animals stink. I love them, but they stink, and they do nasty things. I don't want to be kissing on a lion that may have been rolling around in God-knows-what earlier. I don't even kiss animals I know. They can kiss me (not on my face) if they like, but that's as far as it goes.
Apr. 3rd, 2013 06:49 pm (UTC)
this whole thing disturbed me. i'm not CRUEL to animals, but I don't like them - at all. I've only liked one animal, and that was my dog i'd had since i was 10 and she passed away nearly three years ago. i'm cool.

that being said, i'm pretty sure i saw mention on the news/in the paper that they're thinking of bringing this type of forum to the Indianapolis zoo. um .. why? i would never in a MILLION years get that close to an animal i didn't know, and even my own can be suspect, as the other two said. cute does not equal friendly. it's a damn animal.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )