Taipei has a very nice zoo. The last time that I was there was when Jeff and I were in Taipei around Chinese New Year several years ago. We went to the zoo because almost nothing else was open in the city;;everything was closed for the holiday. I had a great time and enjoyed the zoo, even though it was pouring rain most of the time during our visit. So I wanted to go back to the zoo on a day with a 0% chance of rain, and this Saturday gave us that opportunity. Harmony was also visiting us for the weekend, and seeing the Taipei Zoo for the first time.
The Taipei Zoo is less than an hour from our apartment, at the other end of the brown line of the Taiwan subway system. Our plan was to arrive early, as soon as the zoo opened for the day, as I wanted to see the baby panda cub, and I was afraid that there would be long lines. And there might have been, if she was on display. But the panda cub and her mother were not on display yet.
Apparently, the pandas were originally somewhat controversial. In 2008, the zoo received two pandas from the People’s Republic of China (China), named Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan (meaning “reunion”), as a gesture of unity. The gift of the pandas had been rejected by President Chen Shui-bian in 2005 who viewed them as propaganda against Taiwan’s independence. The next President Ma Ying-jeou was willing to accept them. The offering of pandas as a gift from China is often known as “panda diplomacy” and the zoo expected to draw around 30,000 visitors a day as a result of their arrival. The move was criticized by supporters of Taiwan independence and the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, who said that “Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan means a union, which perfectly matches Beijing’s goal of bringing Taiwan into its fold. Or maybe they were just pandas, who would bring lots of goodwill and visitors to the zoo.
So standing next to this statue was as close as I got to the baby panda. In case you didn’t hear about it, the female panda in Taipei Zoo, Yuan Yuan, gave birth to a little female panda at 10:05 pm on July 6, 2013. She is currently charming everyone by showing off her crawling skills, in a video that you can see online.
The Taipei Zoo displays animals from Taiwan, and many other parts of the world. But many of their animal areas are undergoing renovation, and so are currently closed or it is difficult to see the animals around the construction fences. The zoo aviary, nocturnal animals display, and a section of both the African and Asian animals are undergoing renovation.
These two sleeping rhinos reminded Jeff of the triceratops scene in the movie Jurassic Park.
Jeff and Harmony challenged themselves by trying to read many of the signs in Chinese characters.
One of the mysteries of this zoo is why it has so many African Horned Tortoises. Apparently, the Taipei Zoo has over 100 of these animals, and it costs about $1,000 a day to feed them.
The English signs never said anything about this, and the sign in Chinese characters did not explain why they have so many of them! Thankfully, no one was tossing coins into their enclosures!
This was an interesting, very graphic sign. You might even be able to guess what it is talking about without any explanation in English. It was painted on a wall next to one of the buildings serving snacks!
This addax was certainly very beautiful!
I am going to end this blog entry with a photo of some of my favorite birds in a zoo-flamingos!