Saturday
Oct062012

Changsha Ecological Zoo

The last time I went to a zoo in China was 2004 in Changsha.

It was a horrible experience.

The zoo animals were in terrible shape. Emaciated with no colour and lifeless eyes. The big cats paced constantly in their filthy small cages. There was no protection for the animals from the patrons and many visitors took glee in poking and prodding the poor beasts. Monkeys had only patches of fur and there didn't look to be enough meat on any of the African grassland animals to make a sandwich.

I hadn't gone to the zoo expecting much. I was fairly used to the seemingly uncaring way people in China treat animals but this was far beyond my expectations.

It was one of the worst experiences I've had in China.

In October of 2010 the new Changsha Ecological Zoo was opened boasting 1500 square meters of space and jointly designed by Chinese and Japanese designers with reference to world-famous zoo standards.

Yeah,..... right.

Not wanting to have a repeat of the feelings I had in 2004, I refused to entertain any thoughts of visiting the new zoo. Several times I was invited to go and each time I steadfastly refused.

But I kept hearing how nice it was. How much better it was than the old zoo (could hardly be worse). How the animals were well kept and happy.

Yeah,.... right.

I still refused to go.

Unfortunately, my girlfriend wanted to go and when 'She Who Must Be Obeyed' (SWMBO) decides we are going to do something. It's going to happen.

SWMBO decided that this past week was the perfect time to go. The temperatures had fallen somewhat and it would be very comfortable. After an insanely busy summer for both us, we would have a holiday for a few days to celebrate Chinese National Day.

Of course I made my case for not going. How it would be too crowded on a holiday to go and the traffic would be terrible and how I thought I was coming down with a cold.

She said

"Don't worry, you wont make the animals sick"

and, away we went.

Well, once again I was surprised but unlike 2004 this was a pleasant surprise.

The zoo was beautiful. The animals were healthy and you could see it in their eyes. There was a difference in their behaviour. No more pacing, the big cats were playing with each other (except the big male lion who was just sitting there, looking over his kingdom). The monkeys were no longer in cages but were on islands surrounded by moats they couldn't cross. And there were baby animals everywhere.

The animals were protected form the visitors and everything was open air except for the reptile house and panda enclosure.

Well laid-out, well organized.

It was a great day.

The only downside was that SWMBO was right.... again.

 

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