Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Parrot Jungle sucks

Note: more pictures will be posted later

Unless you have a mean parrot fetish (and it's cool if you do), Miami's Parrot Jungle Island is skippable. The place is built on sensationalism (Liger! Crocosauros! Albino alligator!) and massive amounts of concrete; I like to refer to it as (Parrot) Concrete Jungle. At least the weather in Miami is gorgeous (70 degrees, mostly sunny, low humidity). Under such skies, pacing in a parking lot would have beat spending another day in dismal Cambridge.

The first creature I wanted to see was the liger, the lion-tiger hybrid that grows to enormous sizes. Parrot Jungle says that their liger stands 12 feet tall and weighs 900 pounds. I quickly found the exhibit and for a good ten minutes I admired the liger, which paced back and forth near the front of the exhibit and frequently made eye contact with gawkers. I thought it was kind of odd that the liger, though large, was white, because the pictures around the exhibit showed a goldish animal.

Imagine my surprise when the creature walked to the rear of the exhibit and stood up on its hind legs, and right next to it, from behind a tree, emerged a monster twice its size. Turns out I had been looking at a white bengal tiger all along. I was so caught up in feeling stultified that the awe didn't quite set in, and my liger encounter ended up being quite anticlimactic. It didn't help that the first behavior I saw this majestic creature perform was urination.


Next on the list was Crocosaurus. I stumbled upon this creature, because there was no sign at the upper level of the serpentarium, from which I first spotted this saltwater crocodile. The sign on the lower level said that it measures nearly 20 feet long and weighs 2,000 pounds, which makes it the largest crocodile in captivity in the US. Basking, the animal remained still, only once moving a leg.

The exhibit is mere spectacle. There was no information about saltwater crocodiles, nothing about diet, habitat, reproduction. Like the liger exhibit, which featured clips of the animal making appearances on Leno and other TV shows, and to which was annexed a kiosk offering stuffed toy ligers for sale, this was set up as mere entertainment. Could have been a circus (minus the fun).

It's not only the stars who suffer from pathetic displays. I paraphrase a card at the serpentarium: "The Jamaican boa is not only the largest snake in Jamaica, but also the most attractive." Thank you for the accurate zoological research. Snakes don't register on my zoodar, but I'm glad to know that the folks at Parrot Jungle know hott when they see it.

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