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All Cooped Up While There's a Kingdom of Places to Go

November 08, 2001|ROBERT BURNS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Anthrax, a sagging economy and the threat of exploding bridges might have you feeling a bit confined. Heightened security means you're being watched more closely than ever. Hey, welcome to the zoo.

To put things in a little perspective and see life from the right side of the moat, you might want a fauna tour. We're Click, and we'll be your keeper today.

The Los Angeles Zoo's Web site (http://www.lazoo.org) opens with a photo of the new star attraction: an editor-eating Komodo dragon. Sure, the San Diego Zoo thinks its so great with those pandas, but we've got big lizards that mistake human feet for rats. Where's the excitement now, huh? Although there's no Web cam for sepsis-breath, there is a photo gallery. Is that a shoe in the corner?

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The site has a list of animals in the zoo's collection, but most of them don't have links for more information. We really wanted to know about the lowland anoa. There's also links for volunteering. Why can't Johnny identify an ungulate? Be part of the cure.

Of course you'd expect one of the world's greatest zoos to have a great Web site, and the San Diego Zoo (http://www.sandiegozoo.org) doesn't disappoint. Those wacky pandas have their own Web cam, and there's lots of conservation and captive breeding information.

We were expecting sushi at Long Beach's Aquarium of the Pacific (http://www.aquariumofpacific.org), but its home page launches with a picture of parrots (OK, technically lorikeets). Bet Charlie Tuna really feels rejected now.

The Web site must still be working on its animal database because there are listings only under the letters C, G, H, L, P, R and S. Or maybe our marine biology text book was just making things up.

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The local zoos are easy to visit, for those of us who leave the house, but the Web can take you to zoos around the world. Zoos Worldwide (http://www.zoos-worldwide.com) has a pretty big list of them. There are also links to Web cams and zoo reviews, most of them done by the site's owner, the Zookeeper, who evidently never met an animal enclosure he didn't like.

But the best thing about the site is links to places such as the Asmara Zoo (http://www.asmera.nl/ASM _ZOO.HTM) in Eritrea and the Sri Venkateswara Zoological Park (http://www.tirupatizoo.org) in Thirupati, India. The latter has a lot of good information about animals in Hindu culture and Indian mythology. Plus the site is way Raj.

Another worldwide list is at Zoo Web.com (http://http://www.zooweb.com), which includes most popular zoo Web sites and conservation and educational information. When we visited, a poll popped up asking, "'Is it alright to put the recipe for venison up as part of an educational exhibit for deer?"' Do deer even cook?

The National Zoo (http://natzoo.si.edu) in Washington offers up a lot of Web cams, including bats, gorillas, elephants and, our favorite, the naked mole-rat, which sort of resembles a human foot. Many of the cams are connected to chat rooms: "Do you see anything?" "That looks like a shoe in the corner."

Not everyone thinks zoos are a good idea. The National Assn. to Abolish Zoos (http://www.noazark.org) has a Web site arguing against the confinement of animals. To prove its point, it even links to a number of zoos' Web cams, including several at the National Zoo. OK, we'll stop watching the naked mole-rats.

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Robert Burns is graphics editor for The Times' Business section. He can be reached at robert.burns@latimes.com.

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