A group of locals, with a strong connection to animal culture, decided to take a break from the tourist trap and visit an amusement park and zoo together.
Aussie writer, author and activist Rebecca Williams had been on a five-day tour of the world’s most popular amusement parks in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Thailand and the Philippines when she noticed something unusual at the zoo in Mexico City.
She noticed a group of animals roaming around the enclosure, with no apparent signs of their owner.
“I was completely mesmerised by the sheer numbers,” Ms Williams said.
“They were all wandering around in circles.
They seemed to be all alone and it was like the world had stopped.
It was absolutely mesmerising.”
Ms Williams, who is now a contributing editor for the Sydney Morning Herald, said she was intrigued by the idea that these animals could be part of the theme park experience.
“It’s very important to me to have a sense of how the animals live and what their lives are like, and what they need to do for their own survival,” she said.
She said she thought the animals’ presence in the park would encourage tourists to stop and consider their surroundings.
“The animals need a chance to feel safe and free,” Ms Williamson said.
Ms Williams started researching the zoo’s history and realised there was no clear-cut history of its existence.
She found that the zoo had been established in the 1950s by a local who was concerned about the effects of the overcrowding at his local zoo.
He wanted to create a sanctuary for animals and was a founding member of the Zoological Society of London.
In 1966, he set up the first zoo in the United Kingdom, in Liverpool.
In 1984, he opened a new sanctuary in China.
But Ms Williams found it was unclear whether the animals were allowed to live at the new sanctuary.
She went to Mexico City in 2013 to visit the zoo.
She took photos of some of the animals, and wrote about her experiences on a blog she has since called “The Zoo of Hope”.
Ms Williams had already researched the zoo before she went to the park.
“When I went there I knew that the animals there were not living in captivity,” she told ABC Radio Melbourne.
“In fact, I knew they were living in the wild and not being kept as pets.”
She added that the animal enclosure was not marked as an area of animal conservation.
Ms Williamson, who said she had a “love-hate relationship” with the zoo, said there were signs that some animals had been mistreated.
“There was a little kid sitting on a dog’s shoulder.
There were other dogs that were injured or disfigured,” she explained.
“What I found really fascinating was that I couldn’t find any documentation or documentation that they actually had to be put down and that they were kept in a quarantine area and that there was a plan to turn them into livestock.”
Ms Williamson’s research found that some of these animals had never been used for entertainment, but were instead used for scientific research.
“If you are going to take an animal for scientific purposes, that’s really, really important,” she added.
“But I do think that there is an important role for these animals in the context of human experience, in human health, in the culture of Australia.”
A spokeswoman for the park said there was never any intention to mistreat any of the animal, and said the animals had all been housed in a “natural” enclosure with no animals in it.
“We understand that there are some animals that are not in a natural enclosure, but we do not have a plan for that,” the spokeswoman said.