It was a beautiful sunny day so we went to visit the Villa Borghese Gardens. In 1605 Cardinal Borghese began turning a former vineyard into extensive gardens that now form the third largest park in Rome.
On the way to the garden entrance we pass this interestingly shaped hotel. Note the cars parked in front…they are parked on the road where the two roads on either side of the hotel merge. There are no parking spots here as it is part of the road but that doesn’t stop anyone.There are lots of interesting animal statues around the Villa Borghese, which is now a museum. Lots of dragons. The cardinal must have been a fan of dragons!We see a sign for the Bioparco, which is Rome’s zoo and decide that would be a great place to spend the afternoon. It is Seniors Day and the entrance is only €6. First stop was the chimpanzees and orangutan. Not much to see at the chimpanzee enclosure but at the orangutan’s enclosure Zoe came right up to the glass to see us. She was fairly curious and looked about for quite a while before settling in for a little nap.Her sister, Martina was a bit shyer and only made a brief appearance just as we were leaving.I spent a bit of time sketching Zoe. I held her portrait up to the window for her but she wasn’t very interested. Zoe is 32 years old and Martina is 28, and they were both born here at the zoo.We see bears now and then when we visit the Rocky Mountains but it is usually just a glimpse as the disappear into the bush or they are far away. I enjoyed having the opportunity to observe this big fellow more closely.The big cats are always impressive…but then we turned a corner and met Gladio. This rare white Bengal tiger is an 8-year-old male who was rescued from captivity in a dirty cramped cage. He had been mistreated and malnourished for years. Gladio was treated at the zoo for physical and psychological problems and he has recovered enough to be introduced to his own compound in May of this year. This was the first time that he had been able to walk on dirt and grass for a very long time as he spent most of his life in a cage on a cement floor. He now has 400 square meter of greenery, grass, a pond, and a lair. Not as good as being free but so much better than a small dirty cage.Just around the corner we spot this little leopard trying to get settled on a stump for a nap while his mother rested nearby. I was a bit disappointed in my photos, a lot of them are a bit out of focus, perhaps because I was often shooting through glass?This Southern Ground Hornbill from Africa was very pleased with himself about the mouse he had for dinner. He brought it up to his fence to show me his prize. He even pushed it against the fence to give me a really good look! Grevy zebras have very large ears. I don’t remember seeing such big eared zebras before.The Montecristo Goat is only found on the Isle of Montecristo in the Tuscan Archipelago. They were almost hunted to extinction but there are now about 250 left in the wild. This was a rather strange assortment of animals sharing the same space, Tapirs, Rheas, and ROUS’s (rodents of unusual size ) or Patagonian Cavys.
The Red River Hog from Africa is an interesting looking character. This is the first time we have seen one.The mommy monkeys were taking very good care of their babies…and the giraffes were busy trying to get into their barn.Waiting not so patiently.This is the entrance to the zoo. There were more sculptures but I couldn’t get them all into the photo. I thought it was a grand entrance. I think we were the last people to leave the zoo.
Today was a quiet but rather frustrating day. We went out to get groceries and pick up two Dubrovnik Cards that give entrance to most of the sites that we want to see. We couldn’t find the tourist office that we were looking for and the grocery store closed early because it was Independence Day. We went to another grocery store but there was no parking anywhere, so we tried a third one. Google maps said it was there but do you think we can find it? We decide to go to a smaller grocery store nearby. It is closed too, but we finally see the store we were looking for.
Oh yes, and I spilled my whole mug of tea in the car all over my purse and then a small dish broke in my hand when I was using it! That was enough for me. I stayed home the rest of the day while Bob went for a walk into town and picked up the Dubrovnik cards.
First thing this morning we go back to the airport to pick up our rental car. I am happy to say that this went very smoothly and we got a beautiful red Skoda Rapid which has lots of trunk space. I was a bit worried about that as the cars here are very small and many have very little trunks. It is not wise to have anything stored in the care interior but now we can easily fit everything into the trunk, which means we can stop and explore without worrying so much about possible theft from our car.
We find a spot on the street to park our car and after lunch we are off to the Zagreb Zoo. The sun is finally shining and the zoo sounds like a good idea. It is only 30 kuna each for entrance, which is $6.00 Canadian. A bargain. Unfortunately shortly after we arrive it begins to rain again. We wait out the worst of it in the Reptile Pavilion and then decide just to walk in the rain and see the rest of the zoo. Many of the animals decided to hide from the rain as well, which was too bad, but we still saw enough to enjoy ourselves. This pelican was taking a bath, it was funny to watch him splashing aboutA black and White Ruffed Lemur who looked rather frightened.
These two Lynx were worth the price of admission alone! They sat and posed for several minutes and then stayed in sight for quite a while longer. It was a real treat!This Cuvier’s Dwarf Caiman was like a miniature Godzilla. He stood on his hind legs for the longest time, just staring at us.The Scimitar Horned Oryx didn’t seem to mind the rain…this Homo Sapien was a strange creature!I thought these Grey Crowned Cranes were very beautiful. I love their top knots!The spoon Billed Storks were quite majestic as well.There were several families of Patagonian Mara. I think this big fellow was the one in charge though.This was a bit scary. Several young children thought they were playing with the lions, when in fact the lions would have loved to have them for lunch! The smaller the child the more interested they were in trying to reach them, pawing at the glass with their enormous paws or trying to get their mouths around the children. Honestly, their feet were practically the size of dinner plates and they have very big teeth! I have never been up so close to lions before. They are very large, muscular, intimidating and very beautiful.This female was huge. As soon as the little children left, all the lions went and lay down, completely uninterested in the adults who were there. I would have loved to stay and watch them longer but it was getting late and we were getting hungry, so time to go.
The sun finally really came out as we were waiting for the bus home, I thought the light on these trees was wonderful. We go home, eat, and pack up, as tomorrow we head to Pula on the north western coast of Croatia.