As promised, I said that I would write a criticism of Legends Park to accompany the recommendable parts.
A visit to the park in general is not a complete waste of time, however due to the state of some of the animals, I cannot recommend the zoo. In my personal opinion, all zoos, no matter in which country or which city, are not good places for animals to live in. This is not specifically a Peruvian problem by any means, but a global one.
If you want to see animals, it should be in the wild, in their own homes, with a tour company that does not cause ecological issues in the region. For example, you can go to the Amazon of Puerto Maldonado with a Karikuy Tour and see animals in a way that does not compromise their happiness. In general, I personally would always recommend any traveler to choose a ecologically-conscious tour company whenever they book.
It is not my aim to push my own agenda or upload distressing photos, so I’ll keep them to a minimum. However, any visitor that looks beyond their own camera lens will clearly see the distress that the animals in Legends Park are under.
For example, the beautiful seals that are kept in the small tank might look graceful as they swim, but every one of them that I saw had large patches of skin/fur missing. I don’t think that’s a healthy animal, and anyone who has seen Blackfish (which should be all of you, I recommend it highly) will probably guess that these kinds of injuries are not a good sign.
Or take the cute ponies that are on offer for rides. Totally dejected, they too had fur patches missing, and stood there helplessly engrossed by swarms of flies. It wasn’t a nice experience to see.
How about the majestic parrots? Looking as though he was posing for me, this one (below) kept opening his wings and trying to fly away. Of course he couldn’t, they were cut. And he was probably one of the lucky birds, judging by the tiny size of the other cages. And what about the tiger pacing in front of the crowds, or the white bengal tiger that jumped up at visitors out of frustration from being teased (they were safely behind the rails).Or consider the snake who was laying on its back lifelessly star-gazing at the tiny box tank. I’m no vet, but later research tells me this could be signs of a neurological problem- so why isn’t Legends zoo treating its sick animals?
It was a real shame, as the setup of the zoo itself was rather informative. The path takes you from Coastal, to Sierra, to Jungle regions of Peru, and the animals that can be found there. This is an interesting feature of the zoo and deserved to be seen. Sadly these are just shadows of the animals that live in the wild.
My other gripe? The petrol museum. In the ‘jungle’ section of the zoo for example, there are numerous placards giving information about the various Amazonian tribes. How incredibly hypocritical to then put a museum of petroleum in the same park, when oil extraction and greed has caused such immense suffering and destruction to Amazonian tribes. I understand that petrol is interesting as a natural source of energy, and a park that promotes ´nature´ (However so presented) is a reasonable place to teach about oil, but the blazingly obvious sponsorship of PETROLPERU made me doubt the intentions of this exhibit entirely.
Of course, if you want to visit Legends Park for its other attractions, you will have no choice but to support these ones financially as well. But if you do go, take a minute to consider these exhibits and become interactive tourists, rather than passing them by as acceptable. The zoo needs to become aware of the conditions in which the animals are kept.
Beckie is a volunteer with the Karikuy Volunteer Program in Lima, Peru.