November 01, 2010

The Garden of Ten Thousand Beasts

Not to be confused with the Beijing Subway, the Beijing Zoo is one of the city's more affordable attractions. An imperial manor in the Ming Dynasty, a small menagerie was first established in the park in 1906. Now the 219 hectares of gardens and ponds has the largest collections of animals of any zoo in China. After purchasing my tickets, I followed the crowds to the wildly popular giant panda pavilion. Groups of pandas jostled in the artificial playground that had been created for them, while others enthusiastically chewed strips of bamboo.

The cafeteria doubled as the rhinoceros viewing area, so customers could eat lunch and watch the giant creatures laze about simultaneously. The tiger collection was another highlight my visit. One Chinese man repeatedly popped up behind me every time I saw one of the magnificent creatures. "Tiger!"he would shriek into my ear. I said "Yes, tiger." the first time, politely nodded the next few times, and then ignored him for the remaining few episodes.

Meanwhile, a small Chinese child saw a dark and hairy beast roaming freely outside of the enclosures. The toddler shrieked and clung tightly to his mother's left leg, one tiny finger pointing at me fearfully. I gave a friendly scowl and continued onwards to see a bear being enticed by a local to eat yogurt from his cup.


“Zoo: An excellent place to study the habits of human beings.” ~ Evan Esar