There is a long history of zoos in China, starting in the second century BCE, when the Chinese Empress Tanki had a â€œhouse of deerâ€ built, while King Wen of Zhou kept a 1,500-acre zoo called Ling-Yu, or the Garden of Intelligence. Today, Chinese zoos offer a modern approach to animal caretaking while keeping classic aesthetics intact to landscape architecture and habitat design. The 5 zoos below are considered the best in the country, places where families can enjoy the company of indigenous wildlife, both endangered and prospering, as they live protected near the city centers.
Chengdu Zoo â€“ Found at the northern suburbs of the city near the Panda Research Base, the zooâ€™s most popular attraction is the Panda Hall, a 5,600 square meter area that houses 10 giant pandas. The Chengdu Zoo is the worldâ€™s most successful panda breeder, done through artificial insemination, and have provided many pandas to zoos in other nations. There are 3,000 other animals residing in 30 halls, all decorated with green trees and bamboo and given names like Penguin Garden, Antelope Garden and Fox and Monkey Garden.
Guangzhou Zoo â€“ The second largest zoo in South China with over 430,000 square meters in area and is located along Xianlie Road. There are over 2,000 animals here, including the giant panda, golden-haired monkey and red-crowned crane. Though underfunded, the Guangzhou Zoo attracts more than 2 million visitors a year, who can spend the entire day watching animal performances and enjoying the Ocean World Aquarium, Butterfly World and exotic fish garden. The poor living conditions of some animals, however, may turn off some attendees.
Beijing Zoo â€“ Known as Wansheng Garden during the Qing Dynasty (literally meaning â€œGarden of 10,000 animals), Beijing Zoo was renamed when the country became the Peopleâ€™s Republic of China. Visitors line up to see the Panda Hall, a 10,000 square meter habitat that is shaped like a Tai Chi diagram and decorated in the style of traditional Chinese gardens. The zoo is divided into 16 exhibition halls, like Monkey Mountain and Bear Hall, and keeps an impressive number of 15,000 creatures. Not only are local species such as the milu deer and northeast tiger on display, but foreign beasts like polar bears and kangaroos also included. The zoo also houses the Beijing Aquarium, the largest inland aquarium in the world. In the Ocean Theater, sea lions, dolphins and whales perform in front of thrilled audiences. The rest of the aquarium houses thousands of marine animals, from rare Chinese sturgeons to enormous sea elephants.
The long history and historical importance of the Beijing Zoo makes it an irreplaceable part of the country’s cultural heritage. The zoo itself is found on the outskirts of the city center, a 15-miute walk away from Xizhimen subway. Try wandering around Black Bamboo Park, which consists of 3 interconnecting lakes and is designed as a mountain-water landscaped garden.
Chongqing Zoo â€“ Situated in Yangjiaping with an area of 410,000 square meters, this modern zoo is well-stocked with many national and regional animals. A Nanping breeding base is under construction in order to assist efforts to save endangered species such as the giant panda and the South China Tiger.
Shanghai Zoo â€“ Located in 2381 Hong Qiao Road, near the Hong Qiao Airport, this zoo contains 600 types of local animals, from the hoopoe to the bractian camels, as well as gorillas, maned wolf, and other creatures all over the world. There is a â€œSwan Lakeâ€ decorated with natural reed clumps and shady trees for pelicans, black swans, night herons and other birds. The Shanghai Zoo has 10,000 trees from 600 species, creating a complimentary environment for the 6,000 resident animals.