Last weekend Paul and I and another couple went to the zoo just south of Xi’an. For as close as it is to us (right on the way to our new campus) and the number of times we have seen the sign on the way to school we have never visited it. It was a lot of fun! Now you have to understand that the term “zoo” as used here is a bit different than the attractions of the same name in America. While much is the same there is much that is different –and we loved it!
To begin with we saw many animals that I don’t think I have ever seen in American zoos. Many of the animals come from Asia and many from Africa. The variety was impressive and the quantity of animals of any given kind was quite large. A large part of the zoo was simply a drive through road where you watched the animals wander around in the wide open. Since there were so many it was never hard to find them. Chinese density standards are way beyond American ones.
Admission included a very fast drive through the park in a coach bus. For a price you could tour in a large truck with a stand up area in the back, in the open air with only some bars separating you from the animals. It looked like a cage for humans.We decided to spend a little more money and ride in a "VIP" bus where we could sit down. The Chinese like the "VIP" concept and almost everything everywhere has a "VIP" option.
Many of the animals could be fed and we were able to get quite “up close and personal” to them, unlike the zoos we are used to. None of the safety issues dealt with in the U.S. hampered us here! While the truly dangerous animals were properly confined it was possible to get quite close to some others.
On our way to get on our bus
Three cougars! This is Jordan who teaches with his wife in Xi'an.
For those who like the open air
Our "VIP" bus...
Cinderella likes it so much here that she leaves a spare coach.
There are no barriades between us and the animals. Well, there is some glass.
You could buy a chicken to feed to the big cats - notice it's head sticking out of the tiger's mouth. No KFC for this chicken...
It was slow going because the animals owned the road.
Some detangler needed here.
An Asian bear handling the stress pretty well.
He was our favorite. He literally ran to our food, everyting jiggled and it was hilarious!
Nothing but health food for him! (Paul had me wash all his clothes when we got home...)
We are quite used to humans.
No telephoto lens here - he was just this close.