The Beijing Zoo (北京动物园) is probably only the fourth zoo that I have been to in my life. The first one was Manila Zoo when I was still a toddler, then Malabon Zoo, and I'm not sure if the third visit was of a series of zoos owned by one group in Subic. Zoocobia? I have been traveling to different destinations but truth be told, I was never a fan of seeing zoos simply because I am against keeping animals in captivity. But for my most recent visit to Beijing, I had to give in after seeing a portion of the map I was using marked with two pandas feasting on bamboos. So I, together with my family, took a bus and got off at the Beijing Zoo (the last stop of bus 658 if I remember correctly).
The Beijing Zoo is in the Xicheng District of Beijing, conveniently located near a general bus terminal that serves commuters who wish to go to just about any part of the city. It occupies 89 hectares, of which certain parts are devoted to water spots such as lakes and ponds. The Zoo also has its own aquarium, but we opted not to go in anymore as we were pressed for time.
The usual route leads one into the Giant Panda section where there are, well, pandas. But while the common image that comes to mind when the word 'panda' is mentioned is that of a bear of black and white fur, there is also a different group known as lesser pandas, red and brown like a fox but with the form of a raccoon. The main reason why I was eager to go to the Beijing Zoo was because of the black and white variety. Giant pandas are just so adorable! (I would upload a video if I could)
From the Giant Panda section, the route can go a counter-clockwise path to the pheasants, then to the monkeys, wolves, etc.
犀牛河马馆/Rhino and Hippopotamus Building
He sure was one shy hippo. Never looked the whole time!
We started at about 2:00 PM and by 6:00 PM, the zoo's official closing time, we have yet to visit other sections. The last we were able to visit was the Hippopotamus and Rhino building, where we saw an adult and baby hippo swimming in their indoor habitat. I had mixed feelings when I saw the interiors of the building. Sure, I was able to see the animals but I can imagine the place during peak season. There was a small arcade, lots of dining tables in the middle of the chamber whose walls were lined with stores selling different kinds of things. They could've done better than to house the animals in a mixed use building. I can only hope that the resident hippos and rhinos don't mind all the noise.
If I were to comment on my experience from my only visit to the Beijing Zoo, I'd say I'm a bit disappointed. There were lots of enclosures reserved for animals alright but if my estimates are correct, I believe a good 20% to 25% of them are either empty or needs redesigning. The compound reminds me of parks in China where there is just too much space. What's good to know about the condition of the animals at the zoo though is that most of the bigger animals have extra outdoor space, aside from their indoor enclosures. This I was able to see myself after passing by the Giant Panda, Hippo/Rhino, and Elephant sections.Also, the animals at the zoo seem to be relatively healthy.
If you wish to visit the Beijing Zoo, you have several options:
Subway line 2 to Xizhimen Station > transfer to bus # 360, 632, or 634;
or Take subway line 4
Board bus # 7, 15, 19, 27, 45, 102, 103, 105, 111, 332, 334, 347, 380, 812, or 808 > Beijing Zoo.
(Information from http://www.chinatouristmaps.com)
For your reference, here is a map of the Beijing Zoo (credits: Mgnet.org)