Today, I went to the zoo! I love zoos and was a bit scared of going to one in China because I’ve been told and read in Lonely Planet that the zoos in China treated the animals very poorly with animals in cages that we would’ve replaced years ago in America on account of them being too small, inhumane and not stimulating for their occupants. Well, I saw some of that, but there were also some great things too.
But first, since I don’t start teaching until next week, I have had lots of free time so I’ve done a bit of reading and this last week I finished The Wizard of Oz. I think I like the book better than the movie. It has so much more to it. But I could also see how the story was adapted to screen and where they got ideas from other parts of the story and integrated them in the movie.
Now I’m reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which is a difficult book because of the accents and dialects it is written with, but I’ve wanted to read it since my first go around with The King and I in Australia. It’s also a lot longer than The Wizard of Oz so it will take me a little longer. Thanks Dad, for letting me bring your reader.
Now, back to the zoo.
There were many parts of it that I enjoyed and thought were very well done. Perhaps the best example of this is their Beasts of Prey exhibit. It’s huge for a set of animal enclosures at a zoo, several acres at least. In this exhibit there are four main areas, for lions, tigers, bears and wolves.
Each enclosure is bigger than any other exhibit I’ve seen for similar animals at any other zoo I’ve been to, and I’ve been to a lot of zoos. The whole zoo sits on the feet of a small mountain in Hefei so these enclosures have a gentle rise to them with plenty of trees, bushes and lots of grass growing all over. You can observe these enclosures either through the fence around the outside or better yet get a bird’s eye view from the bridge or catwalk they have over all of the enclosures.
As you walk over each enclosure you have to hunt for the animals that may be lying under the trees or meandering through the grass but you can get a great view of them where ever they are (unless it’s raining and the majority of the lion pride decides to hang out under the bridge you’re walking on). The exhibits give the animals lots of room to roam and be stimulated and the visitor a chance to observe while not just on the edge of the enclosure peering in.
Other habitats also had lots of space for the animals like the Japanese macaque family that had a whole mountain and moat to swim in if they so chose. The giraffes are in a very large habitat too with some zebras and Oryx sharing it. The squirrel monkeys also had a ton of space for their little troop in a little orchard that they could climb through and roam around in.
The zoo also has a ginormous aviary with a big pond and small forest for its inhabitants that roamed free, mostly waterfowl but also lots of peacocks. I just wonder that if it hadn’t been raining, if the birds would have done more flying for us.
We did eventually find some of the concrete box enclosures. These are mostly at the end of the zoo, so if you visit, just don’t make your way all the way back to the end if you don’t want to see these types of cages. Most of these cages had birds and seemed to be holding pens or breeding pens, but we did see some sad instances of little and big monkeys in these concrete boxes as well as some wolves. There were also a few surprises in these that I’ll tell you about in the next section, “the funny.”
Some other less-than-adequate enclosures were the other large cat cages for the white tigers and leopards. However, they aren’t any smaller than the mountain lion cage at the Fort Worth Zoo that has two cats in it and these only had one per cage. Even though they were small they didn’t have solid concrete floors so that grass grew plentifully, but it is sad to see such majestic creatures penned up like that, especially when some of their cousins get star treatment at the beasts of prey exhibits.
In the aviary there were some birds not free to fly such as the zoo’s exotic pheasant collection and macaws and parrots. I don’t know why these are in smaller cages inside such a large aviary that has so much space for all of these birds, so much it’s not even funny. Most likely the parrots and pheasants would stick to the forest area away from the waterfowl anyway. It could be that these are smaller than the swans, cranes and pelicans and could possibly get out of the holes that are showing up in the overall aviary net.
To be continued …