Living in America the thought never occurred to me that some of the animals I consider pest and insignificant people in China might considers foreign and exotic. So you can imagine how surprised I was when on my recent tour of the Beijing zoo I went to the American section expecting to see bears a deer or a cougar and before me lay a cage with raccoons in it. Next to this cage was one with skunks and there were also a few bird cages one of which had blue jays of all things. Needless to say this part of my Beijing tours was both hysterically funny as well as disappointing that they didn’t have any large American animals. But then again seeing a raccoon all plumped up and lazy was pretty fun. I also enjoyed the Australian section which had emus, koalas, Kangaroos and a few other animals I had never seen before. The biggest must see attractions are the Giant pandas, golden monkeys, milu deers and northeast tigers. Just these animals are well worth the travel to Beijing Zoo. And if you want a special treat there are a few elephants to see who have stray cats running around in there cage. Also there are about 15 elephant statues you can climb up onto for an excellent photo opportunity.
However, if you are more into aquarium the Beijing also hosts a gigantic aquarium. It is the largest aquarium in China. In addition it has shows with sea lions and dolphins that are a must see. And if you are looking to get certified for scuba diving you can do it with a dive instructor in their 300 meter tank. However, if you have a fear of sharks, like me, don’t do this or you will have quite a scare. If you are looking for a relaxing day you can also take a boat around the zoo or have an exotic dinner at one of the zoos restaurants which serve exotic dishes. And if you just want to stroll around the park it is filled with beautiful architecture and luxurious gardens. While I was there I watched a girl run out of the bushes with a baby duck she had caught. Don’t ask me how she did it because I remember trying as a child to do the same thing and failing miserably.  Later I saw her again walking around with it by an enormous ornate statue of a tiger and I couldn’t help but think, I still have so much to see and do, but I’m adding catching a duck with my bare hands to the list.   The zoo is just as big as all the other attractions at the zoo so make sure to bring your walking shoes. And if you want to make a two day trip out of it you can stay at one of the close by China hotels. If you do this you can see both the zoo and the 5 story market full anything you could want. It is a great destination for anyone who wants to practice their haggling “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” – Susan Sontag

Jack Li
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