Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Qingling Zoological Park

I struggle with going to the zoo. The inhumane situation of the animals is right there for me to see in all it's disgusting glory. Yet I buy my ticket and as I progress through the place I get angrier with every step. I hate the zoo and never feel good afterwards and still I find myself going. This time I used the excuse that "I was invited by my work colleagues and did not want to offend them."

A zoo, ecological park, sanctuary, or whatever term is being used are a business. They take wild animals, put them on display and charge you money to look at them. They tell you that the animals are happy (whatever the fuck that means), well cared for, safe and in some instances it can be expressed that the animals are on a watch list and the species is being protected. We shrug.

The Qingling Zoological Park is one of these attempted wildlife refuge. The location was quite nice as it was out of town and nestled up against the Qing Ling Mountain range giving it a quiet and remote feel. The entrance was welcoming, wide open and clean as I have come to expect from China where visitors paying money are being expected. This park is famous for it's "Safari by Bus" which I figures would be similar to African Lion Safari near Hamilton, Ontario. Umm nope! I did not bring my camera today and my phone was low on battery so the pictures are courtesy of my friend Candy Bao.

Ok, a bit of a backtrack. We boarded a bus with extra large windows that would take us through the safari park. The security to drive through was no less than Jurassic Park. A series of electrified automated gates that open and closed allowing the bus in and preventing any escapes. The animals were way to bored and uninterested in escaping but safety first.

There were various species of antelope, wildebeest, giraffe and other herbivores doing their thing in a vast expanse but they were mostly laying down. No mass migrations were going to occur here. Through another series of gates we entered areas with African lions, very impressive Siberian Tigers including, Asian Tigers, black bears and other top level carnivores. I have to admit it was impressive to see them.

After the bus ride we could walk the park freely. We watched an enclosure of monkeys for half an hour. It was funny to watch monkeys do what monkeys happily do when they are not caged up begging for food. I will give them props for this exhibit. We wanted to the mid size carnivore exhibit which boasts jaguar and other mid size cats, fox,  wild dogs and the like. This was a "zoo" at it's most disgusting. Inside concrete cages littered with feces and only a glass viewing to the outside world were exactly what were advertised. Spectacular black panthers, spotted cats and wild dogs each alone in a cell. Some were laying in corners, others were pacing back and forth and all were in some state of distress. Shit, the final pen housed Korean Hunting dogs but these were some someones pets (as the sign said). A zoo at it's worst, or so I thought.

Then I came to the elephant enclosure. Huge Asia elephants in tiny cages separated from each other. Baby elephants being beaten for making to much noise, probably screaming for their mothers. The hippos were in fetid black water that had a distinct garbage smell. The only panda, for which the zoo says they are famous for, was laying on a concrete floor surrounded by viewing glass. It was dirty and unimpressive. A prisoner in its own country.

The rest of the place was the same. Birds and small animals jammed into small crowed cages. The wild bird lake boasts flamingos, cranes and storks. Yes they were there but oddly none of them were flying. Wings cut?

Anyways the experience was exactly what I thought it would be. There were brilliant animals that I could admire and yes the monkeys made me laugh but I could not get past their situation. Nope, I do not like zoos and every time I go I promise myself it is the last time. I think curiosity always gets the best of me hoping that the next zoo will be better. Stupid curiosity.

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