Taiwan: Taipei Zoo

Yesterday Blair and I went to Taipei Zoo. It took me over a year to get there because I have mixed feelings about zoos. On the one hand, I understand that they do important work in conservation, education, and research. On the other hand, I know that not every zoo does a great job of providing quality environments for the animals and that breaks my heart. Regardless, I visited the zoo yesterday and had mixed reactions.

The Taipei Zoo just celebrated its 103rd birthday. On their website, they state that they are “committed…to serving as a leader in environmental education and wildlife conservation.” I believe that most zoos do their best in taking care of the animals and kept this in mind throughout the afternoon.

We got there around 1:30 pm. It’s easy to get to, being the last stop on Wenhu (brown) line, and only costs 60 NT (about $2 US) to get in if you use your EasyCard and only 90 NT (about $3 US) to pay cash. Using the EasyCard gets you in a lot faster as well so use that if you can.

Apparently, the zoo is the place to be on a sunny Sunday! Since it is very inexpensive to get in and is in such a scenic area, people must have decided it was a good way to spend time as a family. There were too many people, many of the little people variety who needed strollers and took up too much sidewalk space. We tried to be understanding but knew we weren’t going to make it long. So we set up a plan to see certain animals and set out.

The koalas were the first animals we saw, and I’ll admit that I squealed and practically jumped up and down in excitement. They are so cute! After a few minutes, I got upset because I thought their enclosures were way too small and felt sorry that they were on display the way they were. But they are adorable.

The pandas were not out, and there was a long line to go indoors to see them. We moved on. We saw African elephants, zebras, orangutans, turtles, hippos, white rhinos, giraffes, camels, donkeys, chimpanzees, antelopes, and a gorilla while dodging people and avoiding some of the more congested areas.

Most of the enclosures appeared to be fine, and there are areas for all that I cannot see. The gorilla and the elephants broke my heart more than any others. They are such intelligent creatures and their enclosures did not appear to offer the stimulation they need. They stared at the people staring at them and taking pictures and laughing and were just sad.

The setting for this zoo is one of the most beautiful I have ever been to with the backdrop of Maokong Mountain, but I’m not sure the enclosures are as good as they should be. I may go back when it is less crowded so I can see the other animals they have, and I may have a different experience then. For now, I am happy I had a beautiful day at the zoo with my friend; that I had the opportunity to visit these animals; and will hope they are being cared for the way they should.

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