May 18, 2015

San Diego Zoo and the suffocation of choice a.k.a the buffet problem

Visited San Diego Zoo, considered by many to be among the best zoos in the world. There's always something conflicting about zoos: on one hand, however gilded the cage, the animals are in captivity, but on the other, we get to be so close to them and feel why its worth conserving as many of them as possible (which this zoo is also famous for).

Saw my first ever gorilla, toucan, and polar bear (partial list here). It's also one of the most accessible outdoor spaces I've ever seen, with even an escalator segment that helps you navigate some of the steeper parts of the zoo.

We must have seen about 40-50% of the zoo, given the size of the campus. That's pretty much the most you can do in 4-6 hours, especially with children in tow. Which means you have to choose. With a dazzling array of choices, this act is very difficult. You have this problem at large buffets and bookstores (ok, *I* have this anxiety at bookstores).

People have been studying the problems of abundance - when we can't have it all, it makes us uneasy, for making a choice implies saying no to something else, and thus a potential loss - what if you made the wrong choice?

Sheena Iyengar's book Buy The Art Of Choosing sums this up nicely.


Santosh Kumar T K said...

I came to your blog after many months and bam, there's a post dated today! :)

I am in fact making my plans for a visit to the Dallas FW zoo sometime next week. But San Diego has been on our "must-visit" list for a while now. We have covered the ones in St. Louis Missouri (apparently among the best), Memphis, TN and Birmingham, AL. The Smithsonian in D.C. is yet to be covered.

These american zoos spoil you and alter your expectations- unrealistically at that- of other zoos. They make their sublime, minimalistic, educative, functional yet aesthetic zoos much more desirable to any fancy ones in the middle east, or south east asia. Worse, I can't think of going back to one of my most favorites — the Nehru Zoological in Hyderabad. I'd rather keep reminiscing my early 90s' trips than to attempt one now and be all, possibly, heartbroken.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the note, Santosh! Have heard lots of things about the Dallas zoo as well.