The school year is starting to wrap up as our sixth grade students have been preparing for their entrance exams for high school and Cusco enters into its three month long rainy season. To spend some final quality time with our Santoni students before they leave for their school break we decided to take a trip the Zoological Park located at UNSAAC, Cusco´s public university (Universidad Nacional de San Antonia Abad Del Cusco). While some had already visited the park with their families, for many of our students it was their first time, and as the field trip day approached it was clear that all were equally excited.
On first entering the park, we were warmly greeted by the Zoo´s animal keeper. She also warned us to be careful and guard our bags while passing by the cages of monkeys who are very quick to steal visitors´ belongings if they can get their hands on them! After her short briefing on how to navigate through the park, the girls eagerly began to explore.
To our surprise, the Zoo, which seems rather small at first glance, hosts several hundred animals of all different kinds. From the Andean Condor whose wingspan was over 9 ft to the rambunctious Maquisapas, or Spider Monkeys, everyone was amazed and incredibly entertained. In addition to these marvelous animals, the Zoo is also home to a “tigrillo”, or Ocelot, a beautiful Puma, four “Osos de Anteojos”, or Spectacled Bears, and a friendly Llama who freely roamed the zoo grounds which made for many great ops. However, the most favored animal of all had to be the speaking Amazonian Parrot. The girls spent almost an hour in front of his cage coaxing him to repeat after them.
Overall, it was a wonderful day spending time with the girls. It gave us the opportunity to share stories, take pictures, and most importantly, to develop stronger relationships with these young women who have showed great commitment to the GSW program over these past few months.