Situated in the Xicheng District, it was the first of its kind to be opened in China. The Beijing Zoo sits on the most beautiful land in China. It is so attractive that it was set aside by lords and emperors to be used as parks on their estate. In 1906 the land was converted into an experimental farm and zoo, which was called the Garden of Ten Thousand Animals. The zoo opened to the public for the first time in 1908. But the zoo suffered greatly in periods of war and unrest, and by 1937, most of the animals had died. Under the successive rule of the Northern Warlords, the Japanese and the Kuomintang, the park became increasingly desolate. The only elephant died in 1937, and the Japanese, under the pretext of protecting themselves against air raids, poisoned the remaining lions, tigers and leopards. On the eve of the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the park housed only 12 monkeys, two parrots and a blind emu. After 1949, the zoo was rebuilt and was again opened to the public in 1950. It was later given the simple but descriptive name, The Beijing Zoo, in 1955.
The Beijing Zoo is home to around 450 different species and has a population of some 5,000 animals. Some of the most popular attractions among visitors are the wild and rare animals of China itself, like the giant pandas, golden monkeys, native deer and northeast tigers. But the collection is far from limited to those species found only in the People's Republic of China; the polar bears, American bison, zebras, kangaroos, giraffes and elephants attract visitors as well.
The Beijing Zoo is composed of 16 different exhibition areas and halls. One of the most popular of these is the Panda Hall. Built in 1989 and covering an area of around 10,000 square meters (2.5 acres), it delivers a remarkable artistic scene for such remarkable creatures. Inside the hall replicates the style of traditional Chinese gardens and is shaped in the pattern of a Tai Chi diagram.
Another famous hall is the Gorilla Hall. It was constructed two years prior to the Panda Hall in 1987. The building houses a series of artificial mounds and wooden apparatus for the animals which sit against a backdrop of attractive gorilla murals. Rooms presented for the gorillas include a medical room, a mating room and a specialist feeding room. The hall itself is decorated by a series of gardens and pools. All of its halls and exhibition areas are built to ensure that the animals enjoy a both comfortable and healthy living environment.
Also the Beijing Aquarium is another important part of the Beijing Zoo. It has been open since 1999 and is the largest inland aquarium in the world. The aquarium features thousands of different aquatic species - man-eating fish, precious Chinese sturgeons, huge sea elephants and fierce sharks are among some of the highlights. Tourists can enjoy shows performed by the dolphins, sea lions and whales in the aquarium's Ocean Theater.
Visitors also have the chance to sample some the nearby historical ruins: Lemarck Hall was built to commemorate the life of Lemarck (1744-1829), a famous French natural historian, and has also been used as the Chinese Botanical Science Research Base. Also on the site is the Song Jiaoren Memorial Tower. Song (1882-1913) was one of the early leaders of the Kuomintang, but was assassinated soon after he was elected as China's premier in 1913.
Another site of historical interest is the Changguanlou: a two storied, baroque-style building constructed from brick and wood. In the late-19th century it was occupied by the Empress Dowager Ci Xi (1835-1908), ruler of the Qing court between 1861 and 1908. Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925), the founder of the Kuomintang, is also said to have lived in the hall.
The zoo has developed quickly and by 1987 it covers an area of over 40,000 square meters. Bears, elephants, pandas, lions, tigers, songbirds, hippopotamuses, rhinoceroses, antelopes and giraffes were brought in the late 1950s, and a gorilla cage, leaf-monkey cage and the aquarium house, were opened, containing specimens of over 100 species of reptiles from all over the world, including crocodiles and pythons.
At present, the zoo houses over 7,000 creatures of 600 different species, including the giant panda, red-crowned crane and Pere David's deer-all unique to China-as well as the African giraffe, rhinoceros, chimpanzee and antelope; American continent; wild ox from Europe; and elephant and gibbon from India.
April 30, 2013
So we just got back from the Zoo this was so fantastic! It is probably the biggest zoo I have ever been to in my whole life. Before I actually go into what the Beijing Zoo was like the day we went was also the Chinese national Labor Day weekend. So the Chinese had three days off of work. So as you can imagine the Zoo was completely packed with people. Our tour guide Michael told us we needed to stick together like sticky rice. Now I will get started on the real deal. The first stop we made as a group and the longest stop was Giant Panda exhibit. The Panda’s weren’t really lively they mostly wanted to sleep or eat. I would do that too if I was locked up in a cage. Some of the weren’t even on display that day either.
After we had finished going through the Panda exhibit inside and outside we were allowed to go out on our own for about an hour. So Catherine, Stephanie, and Chelsea and I went off on our adventure of the Beijing Zoo. We really didn’t have a clue where we wanted to go right away but then they said the five words that just made my night complete. “Let’s go find the elephants.” So we went searching for the elephants, let me tell you that was work in itself. It actually took us about 45 minutes or less to actually get to the elephant display. On our way we saw hippos, lamas, and a monkey. So when we finally made it to the elephant display it was hard to tell that it was for the elephants until you saw the sign. The only part of the elephant display I actually got to enjoy was looking at the elephant from behind. The elephants weren’t very photogenic today. But I was still happy because I got to see my favorite animal of all time whether it was a good view or not.
So seeing the elephant and the Giant Panda were actually the highlights of the Beijing Zoo. But there was one thing that struck me as strange. In China apparently public urination is okay. It isn’t uncommon I guess to see just see a little child squatting down and going to the bathroom either on the side walk or off in the grass. Some parents won’t even put diapers or underwear on their kids. I was so shocked they actually make baby pants with no zipper just a slit in the front and the back so it is easy for them to either pee or poop. Which as you might imagine caused some areas to smell like urine. That is definitely one thing that I noticed right away. Other than that I thought the Beijing Zoo was a fantastic place and if I can ever come back I wouldn’t mind visiting it again.
www.china.org.cn, www.tripadvisor.com, www.chinahighlights.com, www.travelchinaguide.com, and www.ebeijing.gov.cn