Day three was the biggy. This was the day I did one of the things I really wanted to do. I decided I was going to visit the zoo. Now, I don’t often frequent zoos. I have not heard hugely positive things about Beijing zoo, for example. But I had read that this was a good zoo and an interesting visit. So, I decided to take the plunge. Getting there involved taking the subway and then the bus. I had breakfast early, and arrived at the zoo at about 11:30. I bought my tickets and then went and had an early lunch. Due to the location of the zoo, I planned to stay there all day.
There were two other activities on the site – the River Safari, and the Night Safari. I wasn’t bothered about the river, but I did want to visit the Night Safari. This was owned and run by the zoo, but was next door to it, and separate. They had the same sorts of animals – but not the same – as those in the zoo, and you could see them, at night, in their more natural environments. For instance, the zoo had a white tiger whereas the Night Safari had a Malaysian tiger.
First, though, the zoo…. After lunch, I went and walked around the zoo. It was really nice to see so many animals, and (most) looked okay. When you enter, one of the first animals you see is a gharial, which is a bit like a crocodile.
Following the gharial, visitors would come face-to-face with some giant (plastic) insects. These were a little creepy, and quite large. They allow you, at least, to see what insects would look like, if they were huge.
The zoo was laid out in different zones, usually geographical (e.g. African), or species-related (e.g. orangutans). I had a map I was following as I explored, and, as I was taking my time, I methodically covered all the areas on the map, sometimes backtracking to ensure I saw everything. There were many, many different kinds of animals on show.
The polar bear was the only animal which looked a little miserable – though it may have been asleep – but otherwise I thought they all looked okay.
The design of the zoo meant you could get quite close to the animals. I didn’t see any being fed, or any of the animal shows that were held throughout the day, but it was nice just to wander and observe.
Without wanting to sound like a broken record, there was another Jurassic Park moment! There was a massive bird cage you could enter, which had inside many colourful different species (there was a similar one on the Night Safari but it was a lot smaller).
Now, monkeys! There were different species in the zoo. If someone asked me what my favourite type of animal is, I’d be hard-pushed to pick just one kind. Many of the animals I like were in the zoo, but I am interested in different animals for different reasons. Out of all the different species of monkeys, I do think orangutans are probably the ones I like the most. The zoo had both species of orangutans – Borneo and Sumatran. There were also chimps, baboons, and other, smaller monkeys (no gorillas though).
There were even some of those Proboscis monkeys, with the funny noses.
One of the useful – and interesting – things about the zoo was the information boards, which didn’t just explain what species the animals were, but often some additional information about them too.
Not forgetting reptiles and similar, there were various turtles, tortoises, terrapins (I think), snakes and lizards, including a Komodo dragon!
Finally, there were some penguins (not sure what species), and a couple of pygmy hippos.
You may also be wondering about big cats. There were some cheetahs and lions, yes, and a leopard (I didn’t take a good picture of this). As well as this, there was the biggest cat of all – the tiger. And this was a white tiger (but don’t know what kind).
One nice thing was the environmental awareness that the zoo encouraged. There were signs across the site about the effect of poaching, drought, climate change and other environmental problems on the animals, but also about what humans can do about it.
It took me a good two or three hours to go around the zoo, in total. After I’d seen all I wanted to see, I left and went and sat in a coffee shop for a while. After about an hour or so, I had some food, and then headed across the road to the Night Safari.
The first safari trip began at 19:15, and, as I waited in the queue, I happened to chat to two American teachers. I mentioned my job, which they seemed interested in, but before we could discuss things too much, the doors of the safari opened. They turned right and headed to a live show which was being held. I was not interested in that, so I turned left, and go onto the bus which would travel around the site. I think the Americans perhaps thought I’d just disappeared, as I was behind them one minute, and not the next. I didn’t see them again.
The bus took about forty minutes, and pointed out different animals in their enclosures. Taking photos on the tram was a little difficult, and you were not allowed to use a flash. After the bus ride, you could wander around freely over the site and see the animals up close. Of course, you couldn’t actually enter any of the animals’ pens or actually touch them, but it did allow you to see the animals quite close up at night. There was an atmosphere (again) of a monster movie or Jurassic Park or something. It was quite dark, and the footpaths, whilst lit, were not brightly lit, and it was quite quiet too, other than the occasional recording and radio chatter from the safari buses as they passed.
Looking in the leopard’s pen, for instance, behind the glass, and not seeing anything, I had images of turning around and being face-to-face with it, on the path. Thankfully, that did not happen, but it was an exciting and thrilling experience, walking around in the dark watching the animals. As well as the same types of animals as the zoo, the safari also had ones unique to this attraction. There were, for instance, hyenas, which were not in the zoo, and flamingos.
It took me a further hour to wander around the whole site, by which point it was about 21:00, or so. I got the bus back to the subway station and got the train back to my hotel, and went to bed, satisfied that it had been an interesting day.