You know that List of Stuff I Want To Do In Taipei that is fed almost daily? Yeah, that one that seems to have more added to it regularly than crossed off?
Well, this is the month to get
cross happy. I just started my month off between school terms (please don’t hate me), and I have an excessive amount of time to do nothing and everything. It’s too tempting just to do nothing, so I’m going to try and aim for the latter.
Yesterday I crossed off one of the items that’s been there for a while- A visit to Taipei Zoo. To be honest, I never considered a visit to Taipei Zoo a “must do before I leave Taipei”. It was more one of those items that I thought would be fun to check out, but if I don’t go it wouldn’t be a loss. There are many more places, experiences and sensations that I hold as much more critical to do. Plus, not to brag, but my hometown Sydney’s Taronga Zoo is without a doubt one of the best in the world… Although you won’t have a chance to see the gorgeous Formosan Black Bear!
But yesterday, drowning in free time, I asked a friend if he’d like to go for kicks. I must admit I was quite excited when he said yes- I was suddenly filled with anticipation as memories of childhood visits and more recent ones bubbled in my mind.
Arriving at quarter to one, the entrance was startlingly packed. Still a public holiday, I expected it to be crowded, but I didn’t envision it to reach the extent it was. Inside was worse. But while I would normally grumble at the need to battle the crowds, the sight of so many different people- children gleaming with curiosity and excitement, lovers hand-in-hand, friends four-in-a-line, all having such a good day out somewhat added to the fun.
We made our way around the whole zoo at an excessively leisurely pace. We both agreed that there was no need to rush- if we wanted to stare at the monkeys for an hour, we damn well could! I think that’s the way to go with zoos- slow it down a bit, savour the experience of watching an animal do their thing for a bit and rinse and repeat.
I’m sure my friend would attest that the whole day I was swept up in a childlike excitement. I truly was captivated by the habits of the elephants, the innocence of the panda joyfully chewing on his bamboo, the utter cuteness of the penguins.
I admired the beauty of the cheetah’s spots, envied the intelligence of the monkeys and laughed at the antics of the baboons. I really did feel transformed- if for just a day- back to a time when I was knee-high and bouncing from enclosure to enclosure, mouth agape and eyes widened.
The zoo is surprisingly large- something which only dawned on us once we’d realised we’d already spent an hour exploring roughly 20% of the zoo. For some reason I mistakenly thought it would be small and quaint- perhaps it was the ridiculously cheap NT$60 entrance fee that fooled me. It in fact has a combined area is 165 hectares, with 90 hectares being open to the public.
The zoo is divided into different exhibition buildings (the Education Center, the Penguin House, the Koala House, the Amphibian and Reptile House and the Insectarium). I was overjoyed to see my favourite animals- penguins- just in time before the 5:00 closing time. I stood there transfixed laughing at their antics until my friend had to practically drag me away.
There are also many exhibition areas (the Formosan Animal Area, the Children’s Zoo, the Asian Tropical Rainforest Animal Area, the Desert Animal Area, the Australian Animal Area, the African Animal Area, Bird World and the Temperate Zone Animal Area). There is also an outdoor nature observation area, a wetland park, and a special exhibit house (Taipei Zoo).
If you go early enough, in the morning there are a handful of shows to enjoy. You might even want to line up to catch the Zoo Train that takes you from one exhibit area to another (it looks like fun for the kid-at-heart, but we didn’t get the chance because the line was too long). Arriving early may make the waiting time to bask in the glory of the lovable panda more bearable. As you see, we only got a glimpse through the crowd!
One thing that I’m always wary about with zoos is the treatment of the animals. My friend and I agreed that especially by Asian standards, the zoo is fairly well maintained and the animals generally seems quite well taken care of. Most of the enclosures are reasonably sized and there is a good degree of distance between visitors and the animals. However, there were a few animals that seemed to sport some minor sores (although I’m no expert in this regard). Another observation that made us both quite sad was that quite a few animals seemed to be living alone. Overall, there are of course areas for improvement, but overall I think the animals seem to be cared for quite well.
So, is Taipei Zoo worth the trip? Well, if you’re short on time on a trip here, unless you have a particular reason you’d want to check out Taipei Zoo (perhaps to see the Taipei Bear?), then skip it and visit those “must sees”.
If however, you’ve got a half day to spare and are looking for a relaxing, cheap and enjoyable time, sure, check it out! I’d say the same goes for expats like me living here- if you’re short on plans but want to get out of the house, then why not pay a visit for a couple of hours?
You know, I’m really glad I crossed
Visiting Taipei Zoo off my list. It was way more impressive and fun than I had assumed it would be- and at $60, I think it’s quite a steal of a day out.
Especially if you get a chance to see this weird and rare creature…
Although don’t hold your breath- I’ll probably be trying to conquer that
never ending list.
What’s the greatest zoo you have visited? What animal do you always look forward to seeing? What’s on your “Taipei Bucket List”? Let me know in the comments section below 🙂
Where? No. 30, Section 2, Xinguang Road, Taipei.
–Open year round ever day (except for Chinese New Year’s eve).
Zoo Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (no entry after 4:00 p.m.)
Animals Exhibit: 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (indoor and outdoor exhibits)
“Indoor Exhibits” are closed on Monday by turns, so please check the website before visiting
Cost: Adults $60. Discount tickets available in limited circumstances, see website for further details.
Nearest MRT: Taipei Zoo Station (this is without a doubt the simplest way to access the zoo)
More details: Taipei Zoo Website
1) Bring your own lunch or eat beforehand. The variety of food in the zoo is lacking, and most of it is fried fast food and overpriced. At least when we went, there were ridiculously long queues. There were also a couple of convenience stores, but the lines were even longer, and many of the shelves were already cleared out.
2) Wear comfortable shoes- there’s a bit of walking between the exhibit areas.
3) Make sure you have an Easy Card (MRT card) to save lining up and enter the park directly.
4) If you’re feeling energetic, you can combine the trip with a visit to Makong- the entrance is right next door!