Founded in 1906 during the late Qing dynasty, it is the oldest Zoo in China. It also has an aquarium and has 450 land-based species, some of which are rare and endemic to China like the Giant Panda, and 500 marine-based species. Other rare animals to be seen are the Red Panda, the Golden Snub-nosed Monkey, the South China Tiger, the White Lipped deer, the Chinese alligator, the Yak,, and the Snow Leopard.
Most of the original animals were bought in 1908 from Germany by the viceroy of Liangjiang Duanfang. The Zoo first opened on June 16th, 1908.
Currently, the Zoo grounds resemble classical Chinese gardens, and among the attractions are a number of Qing dynasty buildings to view, as well as an Elephant hall, a Lion and tiger hall, a Monkey hall, and a Panda hall. In all, there are 30 halls.
The Zoo is located at 137 Xizhimen WaiDajie in Xicheng district, near the 2nd ring road.
We are primarily at the Zoo to see the Pandas, and there is a specific hall devoted to them, and by the way, it costs extra to see them. Everyone in our group is particularly interested in seeing them because it’s rare that any can be found anywhere else in the world.
Perhaps if there had been more time, another hour, maybe, it might have made all the difference, but I think that extra time might have clashed with the pearl factory, and that, for obvious reasons, was deemed to be more important.
Our first stop is in the Panda hall.
There are two pandas that we can see, one of whom is a little camera shy, and the other, above, who is demonstrating how pandas eat bamboo. They are behind a large glass wall, and you have to wait for the opportunity to get a good photo, and, sometimes only enough to include the top of the head of the person in front of you. Unfortunately, the Chinese visitors don’t understand the polite excuse me in English, and, can at times, be rude enough to shove their way to the front.
What is also a problem is the uncooperativeness of the pandas to pose for photos. I guess there’s no surprise there given the thousands of visitors every day with only one purpose in mind. We counted ourselves lucky to get the photos we did.
The hall itself is built on to the external enclosure where there are a number of giant pandas some of whom that were on show were relatively lethargic, as though they had a big weekend, and we’re sleeping it off, like this panda below:
Then, remarkably, we came across one that decided to be a little more energetic and did a walk in front of hundreds of Chinese who had undoubtedly come to show their children the animals.
This Panda was also easier to photograph whereas the other panda, one chewing on a morning feast of bamboo, saw a lot of pushing and shoving by the spectators to get the best spot to take his photograph. Having manners just doesn’t cut it here, so do what you have to to get that photograph.
We also saw a couple of monkeys that were also in the panda enclosure, but they were not much of a side benefit. They may have been there to use the Panda’s exercise equipment, though it was not quite like what we use.There was no time really to wander off to see much else, but apparently, there were also red pandas, and surprisingly, a category call Australian animals. But, who goes to another country to view your own animals?The cutest animals were the stuffed pandas, and they were quite reasonably priced.