Watching the soccer final game As we returned from Checkpoint Charlie, we narrowly missed being swept away by the hordes of people, mostly young, mostly wearing brightly colored clothing and carrying German flags, who flooded into the subway on their way to the Brandenburg Gate where they would watch the final soccer game, Germany against Spain, of the Europa 2008. Reaching our hotel, we saw that the cafe on the Arctic wolf corner was prepared for the game as well. But the game did not fulfill German sports fans' hopes: the following morning saw the population subdued and possibly hung-over.
We, however, took the opportunity to visit the Berlin Zoo with its 13,000 inhabitants. It is located in the Tiergarten, the large and beautiful park in the city, an easy reach by public transportation. Entering, we heard a loud, unearthly noise, and discovered that the arctic wolves were baying. It was a most dramatic beginning to a day filled with animals, The condor gets a drink many of them unfamiliar to us.
Unlike most of the other sights in Berlin, the zoo does not offer maps or explanations. Quite clearly the expectation is that the visitor will wander about, enjoying the variety of wild creatures, returning to favorites for longer inspection. Wherever paths intersect, direction signs flourish (including one to the Los Angeles Zoo!). Although as in all zoos there are still too many of the traditional Direction signs enclosed cages,the zoo has built many beautiful new habitats where the animals can be seen without bars. About half-way through the day, we realized that we hadn't come across any snakes or crocodiles; a separate establishment, adjacent to the zoo, houses the aquarium and related creatures (with puzzling exceptions such as the penguin and seals).
We got a glimpse of Knute the polar bear, who became a zoo celebrity last year when he was abandoned by his mother shortly Baby ostrich after birth. Now he is no longer a cute cub but a good-sized, sand-colored bear who slept through our visit. We also saw the giant panda, also asleep. But many other animals were out enjoying the mild summer sun, so we had more than enough sights to fill our day. Flamingos
At lunch we found the zoo restaurant cafeteria which was large and uncrowded. We could choose from a variety of dishes, including pasta, sausages, and schnitzel, with ice cream for dessert.
While we enjoyed seeing all of the animals, we were particularly enchanted with the birds. An Andean condor had figured out that the hose used to water its area had a small leak, providing little sips for a determined bird. The penguins Neighborhood wading pool and otters were plentiful. Several aviaries were filled with large and small birds, and some large birds, like the flamingos, had large outdoor spaces. Nocturnal animals lived in special buildings with special dim lights.
Our favorite was the week-old baby ostrich, not quite as large as its mother's foot. This was its first day out of the nursery. It went about pecking at the grass and soil, just as though it had been doing it for a long time.
Leaving the tram near our hotel, we finished with a view of human animals at play: the neighborhood wading pool was filled with children and the park itself was home to lots of families having picnics.