On our final day in the city, my mom and I had limited time to spend sightseeing. We slept in a bit late, cozy and warm under the covers while a light but cold rain came down on the streets outside of our hotel.
I really wanted to run the Brooklyn Bridge, but there was no way I was heading out in the freezing rain. I love running, but I am also a Floridian used to 85*F all year long!
When we finally ventured out, my mom and I had a delicious breakfast at a diner down the street from our hotel and then decided to head to the Central Park Zoo.
I’m normally quite weary about visiting zoos because the mistreatment of animals is still an issue at some (many) zoos. If you’re interested, this article in the NY Times sheds light on the wellbeing of animals in zoos around the country, as told through conversation with Dr. Vint Vigra.
Dr. Vigra is a veterinarian and top researcher on animal behavior. Zoos hire him when their keepers cannot help an animal who is displaying behavior not seen in the wild. For example, animals in captivity sometimes suffer from phobias, depression and OCD, none of which you will find in a wild animal. Dr. Vigra helps them feel better.
Running through Central Park I saw a lot of signs promoting the zoo’s wildlife conservation efforts. I haven’t researched it yet, but I hope this means Central Park Zoo is doing its part to aid in conservation efforts unlike so many other zoos that say they support conservation efforts but really donate 1% or less.
The Central Park Zoo is small but has some really interesting animals that I would never get to see in Florida. I was most excited to see the snow leopards, which are absolutely beautiful.
You’ll never guess who they instantly reminded me of! 😉
I’m glad I got to see these two big cats at the zoo, but snow leopards in the wild are facing many challenges due to climate change.
“Their [snow leopards] typical habitat range is between where the tree line stops and the snow line begins on mountains. As climate change causes temperatures to rise, snow lines are receding which means that snow leopards must move further up the mountain slopes as well. As snow leopards get to high elevations, the vegetation becomes more scarce, which means that the herbivores they prey on are in limited supply, and the leopards are having trouble finding enough food.”
Further complicating the lives of snow leopards, they are still illegally hunted for the fur trade which just sucks. Why would anyone want to wear the fur of an animal when we have so many alternatives available to us these days?
At the front of the zoo the sea lions were very playful and active, they seemed to love the attention from the small crowd.
But that may have also been because it was almost their lunch time and they thought we were going to throw them some fish!
Towards the back of the zoo we saw two Grizzly Bears. From hundreds of feet away I could see how big their claws were … and I never, ever want to have a closer encounter!
There used to be 50,000 grizzly bears in North America but because they were excessively hunted, only about 15,000 remain in the United States with another 31,000 in Alaska. Thanks to ongoing conservation efforts the population is recovering in Yellowstone and other areas in the Northern Rockies.
We also saw some penguins, monkeys, ducks, reptiles and a few other exhibits before we had to head back to the hotel to meet the driver who would take us to the airport.
We left New York at 8pm and landed in Fort Lauderdale right before 11. As much as I love traveling, it always feels so good to come home and sleep in my own bed.
Now all that’s left to do is unpack, do laundry and put away my winter clothes away for whenever I go on my next cold weather trip!
Wearing boots, scarves and gloves was fun for a few days, but this Florida girl is happy to be back in shorts and sandals!
What’s the weather like where you are today?