We went to Beijing Zoo. Now, coming from Chester which has an amazing zoo, I was expecting the worst from Beijing Zoo, and it was certainly not up to the same standard (but for those who know it no where near as horrific as Twycross – for the monkeys at least). The entry fee was only 15Yuan – Equivilent of £1.50 and a bit extra for the pandas and penguins. And from what I know from visiting Chester a LOT of times, ie that animals are very expensive to feed, the maths just doesn’t add up and this shows in the absence of zoo keepers, old 70’s concrete enclosures and unkempt grounds.
However the zoo has got some things right, the tropical house is very good, as are the enclosures for the small primates, lions, tigers and penguins, and the new 2008 Olympic games enclosure for the Pandas.
Unfortunately the enclosures for the animals that have the greatest awareness and the most complicated needs are very poor indeed, and I find it heartbreaking to see animals such as elephants and chimps in conditions where they are bored and unhappy. The place is literally falling apart and the ones that suffer are the animals
I got the impression that the zoo’s heart is in the right place and they are doing what they can with limited funds. I wrote to Animal Asia who are a charity working with Asian zoos and they are aware of the situation at Beijing and have begun to work with the zoo to improve things. These are the people they are working with:
www.animalsasia.org (all the info you could wish for on the charity)
www.cagz.org (in chinese but Google will let you translate)
If you go to Beijing, please go to the zoo, be prepared for the worst, and don’t even stay if you don’t want to, but they need all the money they can get for the animals.