The Beijing Zoo: Elephants and Tigers and Pandas, Oh my!
Still adjusting to the time difference, we were up pretty early one morning and decided to venture out to the opposite end of the subway system to where we knew there were a few tourist attractions. Since the zoo opened early, and Carolann loves elephants, we decided to head there first. Zoos aren’t our favourite places, and before we got to the Beijing zoo we had forgotten how hard it is to witness animals in captivity, but we had wanted to see the Giant Pandas (and of course the elephants) and with our limited time, we made the decision to check it out. We used a site with all the tourist information for Beijing to find all the information for the zoo we needed.
A few subway line transfers and we arrived at an already busy front gate. Purchasing our tickets proved to be an education in “queue etiquette” in Beijing, which is pretty much: move into any opening you can and take advantage of every opportunity to move yourself up in line. We learned fast and managed to get our entrance tickets, including admission to the panda house, fairly quickly. What surprised us was the price of admission. For a single entry with admission to the Panda House exhibit, it only cost 20RMB which is approximately $4 CDN. That made the cost of our entire trip, with subway to and from the zoo, come out to about $5 each!! They have one of the largest aquariums as well but we decided not to include that as part of our visit that day.
The park is pretty expansive and colourful with lush greenery and many traditional Chinese buildings, statues and decorations throughout the winding roads. We strolled along the river, watching the ferries and boats go by taking zoo-goers on rides to various places, and stopped in at the different animal habitats along the way.
One thing we noticed was that despite the signs instructing visitors not to feed the animals, many people ignored these postings and fed some of the animals various vegetables. No one stopped them so we aren’t positive the zoo wasn’t selling these somewhere, we just didn’t see anywhere to buy feed. This upset us both so we opted to visit only a few more before heading out. What did help us feel better was that it seemed as though all the animals were in good condition and there was always feed (from the zoo) visible in each habitat.
Two of the last areas we visited were the tiger and the giraffe habitats where we managed to get a few amazing photos of each.
The panda house exhibit was actually split into two areas, one was exclusively for the Olympic Games panda and boy did he have it made! An entire habitat to himself, with all the platforms, stairs and toys he could want. The other pandas didn’t have it too bad either. The final habitat we visited was the elephant habitat. They had a decent sized area to roam in and around but it’s always sad to see them (as well as any animal) in captivity.
We were going to take the ferry from the zoo to a popular Bamboo Park nearby but decided we would save the money and create our own adventure getting there, just like we did to get to The Great Wall!
See our post for the rest of our day, where we will take you with us on a walk through the Bamboo Park!