It's All Happening At The Zoo
by Chad Furze
Have you ever been to the zoo? It's brilliant! With warm weather on the way, now is the ideal time to go to the zoo, and Beijing is the ideal place to do so. With at least several zoos, Beijing is several steps ahead of Holwell, a small village in south-east England that has so few zoos, you could count them on the fingers of no hands. In your face, Holwell!
You can see all kinds of fauna at zoos in Beijing. Deer, apes, big cats. All kinds. Wolves. Bears. It's not confined to land animals, though. We took a trip to the Blue Zoo aquarium to see some creatures that live in water, such as fish and aquatic mammals, such as sharks.
Giving us an exclusive guided tour was deputy manager Mr Wen Shu. "I don't come down here very often, actually," said Mr Wen, who is not a trained icthyologist, "but I do-- woah! That fish is massive! Nobody told me we had a fish that big." Mr Wen, who has worked at the aquarium for five years, then pounded on the side of the tank to attract the attention of the dolphin in question.
We also saw a variety of sharks, including the menacing hammerheads. No need to be afraid of them, though, as hammerhead sharks don't harm humans. On the other hand, they are the deadly nemesis of the nailhead fish, which swarm in areas as far away from hammerhead sharks as possible.
The big King Kong of them all, of course, has to be Beijing Zoo, which you can locate yourself on a map. We chatted to veteran zoo-keeper Han Ou, who has worked in zoos around China for twenty years. "We're expecting a lot more people to come to the zoo now that spring is here," he said, "especially since we got rid of Pang Pang, one of our pandas, who was pretty much psychological death, as far as pandas go. It was his... aura. He just projected depression and gloom. He affected all the animals nearby - looking into his eyes was like staring into the soulless abyss that must one day consume all that is light and good. Two of our ocelots took their own lives." Pang-Pang is currently undergoing psychotherapy and acupuncture.
As a special treat, Mr. Han let us into the cage with Princess, a full-grown Siberian tiger. "Don't be afraid," said Mr. Han, "she's very tame - look, you can wave your arm in her face and everything is fine!" At this point, Princess tore off Mr Han's arm at the elbow and carried it away. Chuckling, the keeper told us to relax, explaining that it was just a prosthetic arm. He's had a false arm for six years now, ever since his original arm was torn off by a Siberian tiger, named Princess.
Zoos are open almost all year round and are the perfect day out for everyone, be they young or old, except for people who are allergic to fur or direct sunlight!