Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Riyadh Zoo- A green haven!

When L suggested we visit Riyadh zoo that summer with the kids, i was a bit skeptical. Zoo is not a place that i liked to keep in the itinerary- i had outgrown it long time back. I had been to Vandalur Zoo in Chennai ages ago and developed inherent allergy to congested cages, dirty environs and almost dying animals. And when L suggested zoo and my two little ones yelled with joy, i groaned inwards. My displeasure failed to impress upon the enthusiastic trio and off we went to Riyadh zoo, flagging a taxi from our hotel. A Pakistani driver who ferried us, had a taxi that was befitting a zoo environment- the car reeked of age and the leather seat covers were tattered beyond recognition. We continued our journey in stoic silence, as L always bids us to keep our mouths tightly shut in any public transport.

The entrance to the zoo looked plain ordinary and what more can one expect from a zoo in the middle of a desert? All i hoped to see were monkeys full of bones, a few camels and innumerable stray cats! But the moment we stepped in the zoo, there was a shocking greenery all around. The entrance hosted a small lake where beautiful flamingos and other water birds were splashing by, unaware of the searing heat outside. A trio of seals were snoring on platforms around a climate controlled pool. The air conditioners were working overdrive. Surprisingly, i did not notice any foul stench that usually emanates from a zoo...
Blissfully asleep- seals in Riyadh Zoo

Then came the enclosure of African elephant. It was a calf, he strutted around the ground supervised by his Malayali ambari ( mahout)! The gentleman was much impressed by Indians waving at his pet(!) that he let me film the pachyderm closer. The antics of the elephant was interesting that i spent much time watching him. Only when L chided me for my love for the jumbo, did i move.
There is our African elephant with his Keralite Mahout
Landscaping of the zoo has been done with an eye for detail with a tiny stream  flowing through the lush green man-made oasis. The entire spread of 55 acres is a treat to weary eyes that behold the miles and miles of desert sand. Zebras, bactrian camels ( two humped camels), a tiny pony, giraffes and foxes lazed by in their enclosures. There was even a pair of lions and a Bengal tiger sleeping peacefully! Thankfully, the lions, tiger, leopards and the ilk looked robust, not the tired and half dead circus ones we get to see in zoos of India!

Bactrian camel and pony- The wall in the background is their airconditioned stall!

This cute fella did not like me clicking him!
Puff adder- after his hearty meal of a few mice!
Orangutan and his antics- Riyadh zoo.
After visiting the snakes, monkeys and birds, we were tired and had to find solace in soft drinks. The stall was run by a Tamil, we found it entertaining to have small talk with him. We sat then, taking stock of the lush green scenery around us. The little stream and its green waters remained placid as the hot afternoon sun blazed on above. Ducks waddled in the stream and a cool breeze blew from somewhere- imagine a breeze in the middle of a hot Arabian desert! The hard work and care given to the greenery and the animals in the zoo is just outstanding, i must say!

Relaxing by the stream

Another view- Riyadh zoo and its lawns

Green waters and ducks waddling

Memorable visit it was and i wish our Indian counterparts do learn from zoos world wide regarding maintenance of the zoo, its environs and the poor animals housed therein. Though i am not a great admirer of animals in captivity, a zoo does have educational value for the young, i must admit. And i wish as grown ups we relive a few moments of our childhood when we visit such zoos with our little ones!


  1. Beautiful place, beautiful clicks CN.. and your last line is very very true.. If you are free read my post and if you wish promote it on Indi..

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  2. Wow! A superb description and wonderful pics to in along! I am no zoo hopper too but I think I will surely love visiting this one! Really looks very calm and a well maintained place. Loved this post :-)

  3. It is sad but no tourist spot including zoos are properly maintained in our country! I think it has something to do with our inherent lack of civic sense. We follow all the rules and keep everything clean and tidy when we work abroad but in India... we just don't care!! I think the animals in our Indian zoos are quite badly cared for- but what can you expect in a country where even the humans are not properly cared for?

  4. seems beautiful. I cnt wait ti visit!

  5. Enjoyed this post. I have been to many zoos and i still like going to see them. But I prefer national parks better so that the animals are not in cages and they are in a more natural environment.

  6. Enjoyed this post. I have been to many zoos and i still like going to see them. But I prefer national parks better so that the animals are not in cages and they are in a more natural environment.

  7. It looked so serene and beautiful. The Elephant is really cute, no wonder you could not leave easily. Very good pictures.

  8. 1. If u compare INdia Vs. Foren .. then start wit PUBLIC TRANSPORT (bus or train), Public hospitals, here every one's Jobs bcomes No one's job and hence..

    2.If our VANDALUR zoo is maintained in the way as u said in RIYADH.. it shud be an INTL tourist destination (not like now.. i dont thnk even chennaites prefer tat as a weekend destination)

    3.Comparitively Trivandrum ZOO is far better in the way tat it tags the SPecie name, charasterics and other details...

    4.yes fr sure it s aboon for our kids.. Ten times u tell GIRAFEE he may nt learn.. once we take him to a place like this and giv a prctical exposure.. he stands to learn things easily..


  9. looks like a fun time! but eww that snake looks so scary!!! Linhy dislike snakes that's why. yikes giving me the creeps looking at it right now hahaa

  10. @ SiS- Thanks for ur comment bro. Did comment on ur Dove post and haev voted in indi too:))

    @ Arti- Indeed the place is well maintained and the animals are well cared for:) Thanks for your comment!

  11. @ Meera- You are right, what more can we expect of a country like us where humans are not cared for...Wishful thinking that it might happen some day!

    @ Redhanded- Thanks for the comment. Hope you visit there soon:)

  12. @ Swapna- Thank you for the visit and comment. Very true, national parks are far better.

    @ Rama- thank you so much, yes, the elephant was just wonderful!

  13. @ Anonymous- thanks a ton for your comment. 1. Yes, our attitude needs sea change 2. Yes, i detest vandalur zoo 3. Have been there, it is wonderful:) 4. Rightly said- children understand better when they visualise things...

    @ Linhy- Hahaha! So afraid of snakes??? LOL!!! Thanks for the comment;)

  14. this tym praises not only for the post...beautiful clicks!!!!!!
    the pic before the puff adder...the cute fella..which one is that???


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