After a long and entertaining train ride from Berlin to Copenhagen (thank you international waters Duty Free), Darryl and I set an early alarm per my request. I selfishly insisted that we take one of our days in Copenhagen to see the zoo. Because Weezy loves Animal Planet, carnivores, and creepy insects, I didn’t have to twist his arm too hard. The Copenhagen zoo has got to be one of thee most expensive zoos in Europe, but we basically paid to see two exhibits: the animals and the children. CPH is SWARMING with kids. I mean kids EVERYWHERE. Men and women usually have strollers that can fit three kids all under the age of four and the mother is usually expecting. Everyone and their sister is pregnant in Copenhagen it seems. And not just a little preggo – I’m talking “could give birth on the metro at any second” preggo. I’ve heard that Scandinavian women carry their children higher than U.S. women, and even if this isn’t factual – my observation tells me its true.
The kids were hysterical to watch at the zoo. They all had their faces elaborately painted and would run around mimicking the monkeys and the lions. At one point we were checking out the reptiles and insects and this blonde little boy was leading his pack of tiny friends all around the exhibit. He was speaking in Danish but I imagine he was spitting off intelligent facts about the Egyptian spiders since all babies that speak in a foreign language sound super smart. He led his friends in front of us and when we approached the tarantula at eye level, he screamed his head off and ran away.
The zoo is situated right next to the Frederkisberg park in CPH and Weezy and I were casually strolling through it on our way to the zoo when BAM! ELEPHANTS. In the middle of the park. It was kind of like a teaser exhibit to entice you to go in. But the second we were at the entrance, we ran for the Leopard cages because they were scheduled to have a live feeding. Never EVER have I seen anything like this in a U.S. zoo. You can plan your entire day around when the carnivores are being fed. They literally drop a fresh carcus in a cage and let the tiny children watch as the animals munch. We watched as the zoo keeper dangled the flesh from the cage ceiling and let the Leopard jump a good nine feet – scaling the entire wall to reach as food in a single leap. Impressive. And terrifying. Personally I think the leopard was more interested in the children lining the cage. He was staring everyone down pretty hard. Interestingly enough, about three days prior to our zoo visit, a man decided to enter the tiger pit and be eaten. No one seemed phased by this during our visit though.
The other large difference I noticed between CPH zoo and US zoos was the number of animals in the cages. Easily 30 monkeys in one cage. 3 brown bears. 4 tigers. 8 giraffe. SO many animals. It was super cool because you really got to witness the animal kingdom hierarchy within a cage. You knew who was the leader of the pack in each animal pen. The only exhibit that left me slightly confused was the Okapi cage. A cross between a giraffe and a zebra… I guess when you let multiple species run wild in one grassy plain…well…shit happens.
I thoroughly loved the zoo and would recommend it to anyone that was visiting Copenhagen. After the zoo, we decided to do some more tourist-y stuff, like climb the church tower in Christianhavn and check out the free town Christiania. Allow me to quote an excerpt from my student hand book describing this area:
“Christiania is a free town within the city. This controversial area is loved by many, but has been a turning point for strong debate, especially because of the locals relaxed view on hash and their at times quite anarchistic statements.”
After that excursion, it was time to meet up with Maya – a mutual Danish friend of Darryl’s and mine. We forced her to be our impromptu tour guide. Funny story – I know Maya from the year she studied in Madison two years ago and lived with my older brother. Maya and her other Danish friend Benedikte were huge influences on my decision to study abroad in Denmark. When I met Daryl this last year, we were discussing my summer plans to go to Denmark and he said he had a Danish girl that studied in his lab a couple years back. Small world, eh?
We had a really lovely reunion with her and went to see the royal palace, the opera house, and the Little Mermaid. I will admit, I was wrong. She is much bigger in person that I had expected. Sorry to those (cough, cough, Joe, cough cough) that I offended in perception of her size.