We heard of this place about 50 miles out of town that allows visitors to actually go INSIDE the cage with the animals. It´s a hands on zoo, if you will. This is the best kept secret the city of Buenos Aires has to offer. You take the 57 bus from Plaze Italia about an hour and a half outside of the city and get dropped off at the gate of what looks like a farm. It´s only 20 pesos to get in, but this zoo has every animal from deer, llamas, tigers, lions, ducks, bulls…AND it has the hugest collection of tractors. Visitors can even pick up the smaller animals and manhandle them at risk to themselves and the creatures. Shockingly there doesn’t appear to be much in the way of safety regulations to protect either humans or animals and Internet blogs are littered with pictures of tourists with the animals. Even children are allowed to enter the lion’s cage and fondle a range of animals that have the potential to kill or maim them. While the animals that wander around freely (ducks, peacocks, geese) could entertain young children for hours, older kids, teenagers and the young in us all might be curious about the many animal cages spread throughout the zoo. Rather than merely looking into cages, visitors to the zoo can actually enter some of the cages in small groups to interact with the animals. You may think it crazy to enter a cage with a fully grown tiger unless it’s drugged or chained up, but the zoo’s caretakers will explain how man’s best friend lends a helping paw. One of the first cages nearest the entrance is inhabited by lion cubs as well as dogs. For the first few months, the lion cubs will learn obedience training and other important behavior from the domesticated dogs. The dogs will help the lion cubs learn to be more docile in this setting where they will interact with humans. The caretakers do not, however, explain why some of the lion cubs seem so “sleepy” that they need to be shaken awake for photo-ops. Suspicious. At present there are several lion cages that you can enter, with lions grouped and separated by age. It’s interesting to see how their personalities and behavior develop. Prior to entering any of the cages, visitors are instructed not to make fast, sudden movements or excite the animals in any way. Young children may enter the cage with dogs and cubs with adult supervision, but they’re not permitted to enter the cage with the adult lions. You are invited to cuddle and pet and stroke the cubs and lions, being careful not to go near their heads, and may even be presented with a bottle of milk to nurse one of the most beautiful, majestic and awe-inspiring creatures on earth. If you go to Lujan on a school day, or in the off-season (May through October), you might easily be able to spend 10-15 minutes in each cage, communing with creatures nearly as beautiful as Michelle Pfeiffer. If you can tear yourself away from the lions and tigers, you will find other cages with pumas, llamas, deer, ostrich, seals, elephants, camels and even twin grizzly bears. Animal protection charity, The Born Free Foundation, has condemned the zoo and issued a statement to urge tourists not to visit it. Will Travers, CEO of The Born Free Foundation said: “Based on what I have seen displayed on the Lujan Zoo website, I am fearful that a terrible accident is going to happen. The zoo is, in my view, placing the lives of its visitors at great risk by encouraging them to have ‘close encounters’ with dangerous, potentially lethal, wild animals. Anyone who has any knowledge of big cats will understand that they are wild animals and, as such, as unpredictable.” While words cannot effectively describe the Lujan Zoo, even pictures do not do it justice. It is simply something that must be experienced to fully appreciate. And upon your return to “la vida loca” in Buenos Aires, the wildlife at the Lujan Zoo might actually seem tame in comparison. For more information just visit the link below.