Shanghaied Animals

Last week was a difficult one, a week that kept us inside the hotel room for most of it. Sunday was busy and fun. But then Monday Henry woke up with a 100+ degree fever that lasted through Wednesday. He felt better on Thursday but we had to spend the day inside due to the rain and the warnings that two typhoons were going to hit. The typhoons ended up missing Shanghai.

So Friday morning, with the rain clearing up, we headed out to the Shanghai Zoo for the One Big Reason to visit a zoo in China: Pandas.

The Shanghai Zoo is a loooong trip on the Metro from our hotel in the Hongkou neighborhood, taking at least an hour. With our time in Shanghai running out, we had to make the time to see the pandas.

The grounds of the zoo are very pretty and spacious.

We headed straight for the northwest area of the zoo, where the pandas are located.

Unfortunately, the bamboo has more space in the zoo than the pandas.

The kids were excited to see the pandas, no matter how hot and tired they looked. They were the first animals we saw (except for some fish). After the pandas we went to see what other animals the zoo had.

The zoo had some lions. Lions are nocturnal, so during the day they mostly lay around, sleeping. So what do you do when you get to the lion exhibit and the lions are doing nothing more exciting than sleeping? (This is not something the travel books will tell you about.)

Why, you pick up sticks which have fallen from nearby trees and you throw them at the lions. It provokes them a little. They flinch and snarl then go back and try to get some sleep.

How do I know this? Throwing sticks is exactly what several Chinese tourists did. Like this.

One of my wife’s colleagues in the Summer China Program saw the same behavior when he went to the zoo a week or so ago. Thankfully, it’s a large zoo. We saw lots of other animals who were treated much better.

We saw bears.

And people feeding the bears.

There are signs in front of every exhibit telling people not to feed the animals, in both Chinese and English. That doesn’t seem to matter. There is no one around to enforce that rule. The zoo staff are too busy driving these carts around on the pathways, honking their horns constantly for you to move out of the way.

It is not exactly harmonious.

This kind of behavior would not be a big deal to me except I have never, in four decades on this planet, seen a person throw a stick or food at a zoo animal in the U.S. I told my kids that what those people were doing was wrong.

I have to say, most of the animals were left alone, like the zebras.

The giraffes.

The Sezchuan Takin.

The kangaroos looked tired.

Then we came to the monkeys. This one was looking at us.

There were people throwing bits of apple at these though.

Despite the animal taunting, the Shanghai Zoo has a beautiful landscape and a great collection of animals. For the kids, the zoo was one of the highlights of our trip so far. They were really excited about seeing the pandas and all the other animals.

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