One of the main attractions to the capital of China, Beijing, is its zoo and in particular the panda exhibit. The zoo is home to the the largest zones for just the pandas. Out of all the animals, the pandas were the main focus on the zoo, they were well looked after and there were several different ways to view them, from watching them feed on bamboo to their play periods on the various obstacles courses. Of course, there are other zones (or halls) for the tigers, elephants, lion and many others.
The zoo was founded in 1906 during the Qing dynasty. The zoo resembles a classical Chinese garden and is quite reminiscent of the old ancient Chinese days (that you can see in Chinese television and movies based on the old ancient days).
As part of our holiday tour with Nexus Holidays, we paid extra to visit the Beijing Zoo and some other interesting locales like the Summer Palace and Temple of Heaven. To our disappointment, not only did we pay a lot extra for the experience at the zoo and the other attractions, we barely spent much time at each location. At most, we were in and out of the zoo within the hour and rushed off to the Temple of Heaven. I felt the tour guides wasted our time in the morning and early afternoon with a trip to a green tea factory with a ‘free’ foot massage.
The Panda Hall is its own area and is sectioned off from the other parts of the zoo. We were told by our tour guide that we could only enter the Panda Hall, but once we leave it, we couldn’t return to the Panda Hall (which I thought was odd).
When we got in, we managed to catch the pandas while they were moving about in their enclosures and during their feeding sessions. The pandas looked like cuddly bear, though I wouldn’t want to get too close to them. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be many opportunities for close interaction with the panda (which is probably for the best).
There was also an abundance of panda plush dolls in the Panda Hall store. There were plenty of different styles of panda on sale. The store was pretty empty, so I am not sure how popular these dolls are.
Outside the Panda Hall and given our limited time, we visited the south eastern zones of the zoo. As we walked around, given the classical Chinese aesthetic and also the time of year, the zoo felt very different from other zoos we have visited. There was less greenery and animal habitats and more man-made things. For instance, a lot of the floors in the animal enclosures were concrete or dirt.
There was a huge monkey cage with several monkeys cheekily moving about. I believe the monkeys have been a mainstay at the zoo. There were so many of them and, it seemed that, visitors were allowed to get up close to the cage to pet them.
Not so surprisingly, there were a lot of exotic animals from around the world, including an Mongolian wolf. The wolf seemed to be well fed, but I only saw one in the enclosure. It’s possible the others were sleeping or elsewhere.
I wasn’t quite sure what I was seeing at first, but here is a fox. If I didn’t tell you this was a zoo, you would have thought it was walking around in the streets. It was a shame that they didn’t recreate some of the natural habitats for some animals, but I can appreciate that it is hard to do because Beijing doesn’t have a great climate to begin with.
The Beijing Zoo is located at 137 Xizhimen Outer St, Dong Wu Yuan, Xicheng District, Beijing, China and most people visit the zoo before visiting the Beijing Aquarium.
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