Antwerp – an okay city with a very bad zoo

Belgium Antwerp, Belgium   Feb 23, 2013    By

I was excited about going to Antwerp, I was expecting to like it more than Brussels, but not as much as Bruges. However, I ended up liking it less than Brussels. It’s not a bad city, it just lacks that uniqueness factor that Brussels and Bruges have. Antwerp had the older city look, nothing special, actually it looked a lot like Philadelphia. My first evening I secured tickets to a English version of the play, “Nora”, by Henrik Ibsen. The play was at the Bourla Theatre, one of the oldest theatres in Belgium, I think. I’ve attached a picture of the inside before the play started (no cameras allowed during the show).


The lead actress, someone by the name of Wine Dierickx, was fantastic. The play was written in the 1800s, but was controversial as it had to do with women moving beyond their ‘domestic responsibilities’ and becoming more independent…so I guess it was ahead of it’s time. On the walk home I ended up getting lost for about an hour, but that gave me a chance to see more of downtown Antwerp on a Saturday night. Again, I just think Brussels and Bruges have more of a European ‘look’ to them, and I found Antwerp quite ordinary.

The next day I was excited to see the Antwerp Zoo, as I had heard some good things about it. Having been spoiled on the San Diego Zoo I tried not to compare and contrast too much, as San Diego is one of the top zoos in the world. I must say I thought the treatment of the elephants was disturbing. I understand that because it was freezing they couldn’t be outside, so they were housed in this building with Egyptian style writing and drawings on it (not sure what that was all about). You’ll see in the pictures there were 4 ‘cells’ along the wall, and there were two elephants who got 2 cells each. However, this seemed like not a lot of space at all. Further, the elephants didn’t really look that healthy, and the inside of the building was filthy, even in the areas the elephants didn’t go. You’ll see in one of the pictures the elephant stretching it’s trunk outside the bars of the cell to look for food. Again, maybe I’m spoiled from San Diego’s zoo, but something didn’t feel right about these living conditions. It actually seemed like, overall, none of the animals in the zoo seemed that happy or excited to be there. Although some of the pictures came out good (especially the owl), I wouldn’t recommend this zoo…not at all.

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In fact, based on this experience I decided to go full vegetarian…we’ll see how long that lasts. Anyway, no more Antwerp for this guy.




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