Tag Archives: Zoo

Sichuan Province – Chengdu Panda Reserve

On this day, Paul, Miki and all of us traveled to the Panda Breeding Center in Chengdu. If time would have allowed, we would have preferred to see the Wolong Nature Reservce instead. The eight hour bus ride stopped us from going there. The Panda Breeding Center was set up in 1987 and has bred and raised over 88 giant pandas. We were told we could hold a panda for around $100 US dollars. So we went with the idea we would each do it. A once in a lifetime chance was how we viewed it. But instead, we were told $180; too rich for our wallets. Thus we never got the chance. It was a bummer. We did get very close to a bunch of Red Pandas and enjoyed interacting with them over the Giant Pandas. We spent over a hour just hanging out with the Red Pandas. They are very sweet, soft animals.

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Suzhou – City Zoo

Suzhou Zoo

Cub (photo by Nathan)

After the Shanghai Zoo, we were very apprehensive to visit this zoo. We love animals so much, we were willing to give it a chance. What a pleasant zoo and we had a great time! The majority of all the animals are housed in nicely maintained areas, surrounded by chain-linked fencing, so they were able to breathe fresh air. It was also pretty cool we could stand two feet away from the animals. With the animals loving to interact with the people, they were always up at the fence line.

At times, we were left wondering who was really on display: the animals or us, the westerners, so many pictures and blatant stares came our way. Still not used to all the in-your-face stares and photos; the stealth attempts are still a riot to watch in action. They think they are so sly and not obvious. You know it is coming when they send a family member to pose somewhere nearby and then the camera will move to take a photo of us only.

As in Shanghai, the locals do feed the animals. So the bulk of the interaction was feeding. Though some animals liked having a scratch here and there. Mike got to rub on a Red Deer (what we would call Elk at home). We did not feed the animals. Mike had a blast playing hide and seek with a female black panther and the kids did a great job getting a female tiger’s attention by blowing under her glass. Between the Tiger and Panther, we spent easily over two hours with them.

We saw something at this zoo, we would never have the opportunity to see in the US. The female tiger had a cub who was very young; young enough to wobble a bit when he walked. He came out of the closed up area in the back to play and stock her mama. Very fun to watch. With the Panther, Mike played with her like he would a cat. By hiding down low and peep up every so often, I have a picture of her creeping up to him. Mike hung out with her for awhile. And NO, like the Shanghai Zoo, the locals didn’t drop it anywhere and let it hang. All the kids had diapers on. Thank goodness!

Suzhou Zoo was opened in 1954, when it was one of only two special zoos in Jiangsu Province. Although the facilities within the zoo have been renovated many times, it’s unable to develop further due to limitations in the geographic location. To date, it is still a small sized zoo covering an area of 30mu, including the water area of 5mu. Currently, it contains over 80 species of animals. Since we spent so much time with the cats and primates, we did not spend much time in the gardens. What we did do was a mad rush to see it all before the zoo closed for the evening. I managed to capture a few shots of quaint walkways and a few pretty water scenes.

When we were done, we headed to the road to find a taxi. With the zoo in a part of town where taxis are sparse, we found none. So we walked out of downtown Suzhou back to the SIP area. It took us over three miles before we found a taxi to take us the rest of the way home. It was a grand walk to boot! We walked through neatly lit gardens, bought oranges from an open market, consumed rapidly them as we walked, watched some guys night fish, tried to bargain for a tea pot from a vendor on the side of the road and purchased a fuzzy bathrobe for Briana in another open market. The walk was the icing on the cake to a good day. Some pictures below are mine and others are Nathan’s.

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Shanghai Zoo




As I think back at our time here, it’s ridiculously gross. Briana would say blasphemous. Nathan would say disgusting. Zachary says he can’t think of a word disgusting enough to use. It was educational to how some locals are in China.

First off, the zoo is in poor repair. Mike felt it will take millions to get it back in good condition. That’s before making any new exhibits. (This zoo is larger than San Diego’s and has plenty of room to expand.) There were a few highlights, like the Maned Wolf, Koi, Pandas, some of the birds and the Gorillas. The rest was pathetic. Paint was coming off most exhibits. The very smart monkeys were in plain, dull concreted cells. They look so bored and sad. The Eagles were held in a plain cage, where they are unable to do anything besides sit on the concrete. (We spent a lot of time visiting with an Eagle who interacted with us.) The worst part, for us, was they had domestic dogs on display. I spotted it before the kids could see and I quickly redirected them. So they, thankfully, don’t have to remember seeing that for the rest of their lives.

Very different from the US, the locals throw food at any of the animals without a glass protection. At times, they throw garbage at the animals in the attempt to get their attention. Sad. A lot of the cages had plastic bottles and wrappers in them. The bears were the biggest beggars of them all. They would sit on their hind end, give cute looks, beg and get fed. The most horrible was the locals’ habits which are everything we said above. I have never seen such filth in my life. No wonder disease can run rampant here. Everywhere you went, not far from an actual toilet facility, we got the opportunity to watch someone relieve themselves. Yes, you read that right! Hardly anyone used the facilities. They would just pull their pants down right next to the pathway and let it hang. Even next to the exhibits. We had to watch every step we took. Unfortunately, Zachary didn’t watch by the Panda exhibit and stepped in a pile. (Yes, we did get his shoes cleaned.)

The “straw that broke the camel’s back” for me was when we were sitting in the food court eating our ice cream cones and drinking our ice tea, a lady comes over next to us, picks her kid up and it proceeds to… well, you know. I was done at that point. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. This habit doesn’t just happen at the zoo. Children after about eight months old are put in pants that have an opening from their belly button to the top of their butt crack. So when they have to use the potty, the adults just put them over a trash can, if one is right there, or they just squat. (I have a photo of a ceramic boy with these pants on, I will show you later in the Lion Grove Garden post.) We now understand why they don’t sit on the ground and they take their shoes off at the door. But out of the bleak, one can still find beauty. Enjoy the photos.

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Western Adventure, Day XI – Colorado at Cheyenne Zoo

Zachary, Briana and Nathan at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, Colorado

Zachary, Briana and Nathan at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, Colorado

We were eager to head out today and explore some parks in the area of Colorado Springs. Last night was a flood from the skies. I was amazed at how fast our awning filled up… dumping every five minutes throughout the night.

As of the morning, the weather had shifted to mostly cloudy. We figured we would go to Seven Falls. It was touted as the most beautiful canyon in the world. From what we would see upon the drive in, we agreed. But due to the significant rainfall, the trails were closed and the staircase next to the falls were closed too. The ranger suggested we try tomorrow.

Since we were close to the Zoo, we decided to make that our next stop. Its claim to fame was the only zoo in the mountains. And it was in the mountains, on a hill side to be exact. The Zoo had five tiers. We climbed up one side and came back down the other. Their best exhibit was the giraffes. There were over 20 of them and we could even touch them. Briana was especially giraffe crazy. It was hard to pull her away.

We liked the interactive bird display the most. Zachary had been missing our bird, Maximus. When we saw one in the bird area, he became a bit melancholy. To our delight, and his, the Zoo had a budgie room full of parakeets, cockatiels and canaries. The kids had a blast! We stayed in the room for over an hour and the zoo gal Kay spoiled the kids by giving us more sticks, full of food, than we paid for. Kay even allowed them to hold the birds. One bird in particular hung with Zachary… a cockatiel. Kay found a feather from one of the cockatiels and gave it to him to take home. To say the very least, Zachary was extremely pleased. We also got to see one of my favorite zoo animals the Okapi. I first saw them at the San Diego Zoo some years ago. I just love how they look. They’re a close relative to the giraffe and have their infamous 18 inch long purple tongue.

As it started to storm, we went inside the food court for some ice cream and watched it sun, then rain, then snow, back to sun, and then to cloudy. We purchased tickets for tomorrow’s first showing of the Pirates fo the Caribbean IV at the local theater and went to bed early.

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