One would think that on an island as modestly sized as Guam is that it would not be easy to hide a zoo. Yet Guam has a zoo–a private one at least–that is so inconspicuous that when I walked by it on Sunday afternoon after lunch, I did not see it. Alas, it would not have helped me if it was more conspicuous because the zoo happened to be closed. From what I could gather, as information on the zoo’s website is more than a little bit sketchy, the zoo is itself at least was once open from 10AM to 4PM on a regular basis but is now open only for appointments and private parties, not curious tourists looking to drop in and see the aminals.
I had put this aside and not wished to write about it, but it so happens that today after going to the Guam National Military Museum (itself a lovely and small museum dedicated to the intense battles of 1941 and 1944 that decided the fate of the island during World War II), my mother and I stopped at the UnderWater World, a small private aquarium not far from our hotel, only to find that it too was closed. Despite having hours from 10AM to midnight on the door, it appears looking at the webpage that the place is only open on the weekends, and not even every weekend–it does not appear open any of the days we happen to have been on the island, it might be noted.
Why is it so hard to see the animals on Guam? Guam is a strange island as far as tourism is concerned. The island lacks a large population or a great deal of heavy industry, but while it is somewhat dependent on tourism, it is also an island whose tourism appears to be in a vulnerable state as a result of the months of Covid. There appear to be two main groups of tourists that one sees on the island of Guam. One group, and by far the most numerous, appears to be made up of mostly Japanese and Korean tourists who find in Guam a tropical island relatively closeby to them. The other group appears to be made up of Americans with experience in the military or local Chamorro visiting friends and family back from their mainland homes. The sort of tourist that I happen to be is apparently a very rare one, attracting a fair bit of commentary over the course of my travels so far.
And this lack of tourists has serious consequences. It is tourists, after all, who bring that necessary lifeblood of money, and the months and years of restricted travel had had a serious negative impact on the ability of the island to cater to the tourists who are starting to return to the island. Indeed, one wonders if the difficulty one has in seeing some of the tourist sites that one would want to may hinder the return of the island to where it once was. One can see, for example, that a substantial number of restaurants are closed down because of the lack of tourists, and the loss of tourist sights appears to be related to the same problems. It is well fortunate that some of us are laid back when it comes to such matters.