Tipped off to this by writer Jessica Amanda Salmonson, I am utterly in awe. Located in Luján, Argentina, Zoo Luján lets visitors play with the animals — all the animals. Provided you pay the $50 fee and sign an agreement not to sue the zoo if you mysteriously disappear inside the tiger cage, you can hop in the cages with big cats, bears and more.
There’s a great English-language blog post about it here, and The Sun also covered it. The Petition Site has the following to say about it, citing objections from UK charity The Born Free Foundation:
Lujan Zoo, in Argentina, controversially allows visitors to enter enclosures and cages to have their photographs taken cuddling and even sitting on the backs of some of the most dangerous prediators in the world. The animals appear to be very sedate and tame, with keepers seen ‘playing’ rough and tumble games with them.
Visitors can even hold the smaller animals and manhandle them, at risk to themselves and the creatures. Shockingly, there does not appear to be much by way of safety regulations to protect either visitors or the animals. Even children are allowed to enter the lion’s cage and fondle a range of animals that have the potential to maim or kill.
A bit hard to argue with the idea that this is sorta whacked. So what does the zoo have to say for itself? Since my Espanol’s a tad rusty, I plugged the zoo’s site into Google Translate. It doesn’t illuminate very much, but it sure generates that special kind of automated poetry that hints at the underlying beauty of getting eaten by wildlife:
A DIFFERENT PLACE SURROUNDED BY NATURE…COME TO ENJOY ALL THE ATTRACTIONS OF THE ZOO, WITH A SPECTACULAR TIME!
ZOO A DIFFERENT TO WHAT YOU KNOW!!!
We can consider this as a unique and innovative zoo where the animals live with humans from birth and throughout the course of his life, which is achieved through a dedicated process of taming that were characteristic to this zoo since its founding….A 15-year-old Lujan Zoo not only has become a highly attractive destination for visitors from all over Argentina, but has transcended borders to be recognized internationally with visitors coming not only from neighboring countries but also other continents who visit attracted by the type of management practiced with our dogs.
…In the emerging initial collection, now has more than 50 copies of African lions, 20 Bengal tigers, 12 cougars, about fifty different species of South American monkeys, camel breeding in the zoo and elephants from the remote island Sumatra.
Um…okay, whatever. Needless to say, if you speak the Spanish you’ll probably get more from the original site.
There are no photos of the multi-species frolicking per se on the zoo’s site, but I found the following photos at Desi Hot Masala (???), then again mirrored at ActiveBoards. They’re uncredited, so my guess is that both those sites may be, how to put it, a bit shady. I tracked down a slightly less shady posting of all the same pics here, so that’s the one I linked. But it’s all pretty shady…about as shady as letting your kids pet Sumatran tigers. Who knows?
The pics are amazing, however. There are many more than what’s thumbnailed here.