Beijing Zoo was originally called Ten Thousand Animal Garden that was built in 1908. It is situated to the west of Beijing Exhibition Center, in Xicheng District of Beijing City and facing Beijing Astronomical Observatory. It covers an area of about 90 hectares with a collection of more than 600 types of animal species and more than 7, 000 population of animals.
Beijing Zoo mainly exhibits wild and rare animals growing in China, such as Panda and the Golden Monkey. Besides our national unique species, there are still numbers of rare animals all around the world, like White Bear from the very North Pole, Kangaroo from Australia, Zebra from Africa. The constructions in the Zoo is more than 50,000 square meters, including the monkey hill, the panda hall, the lion and tiger hill, the elephant hall, the see beast hall etc. In all, there are as many as 30 huge halls. Besides the living places for animals, a lot of different rooms, halls, pavilions and beautiful trees exist here as well. The Zoo combines the Garden Art of the East and West typically adapts to the environment of the wild animals living here.
In the 18th century, the zoo was known as the Sanbeizi Gardens, supposedly named after the third son of Emperor Kangxi, Prince Cheng Yin. Another explanation is that Sanbeizi refereed to the Qing courtier Fu Kang' an and the Gardens the site of his villa. In fact, as early as the Ming Dynasty, an imperial mansion called the Garden of Happiness and Friendship constructed for Prince Kang stood here, and during the Qing, part of the Sanbeizi Gardens called the Garden of Continuity (Jiyuan) became the private property of an official in the Bureau of Palace Affairs.
In 1906, during the reign of Emperor Guangxu, the park area changed into an agricultural experimental farm and a zoo. Known as the Garden of Ten Thousand Animals (Wanshengyuan), it opened to the public in 1908.
Under the successive rule of the Northern Warlords, the Japanese and the Kuomintang, the park became increasingly desolate. The only elephant died in 1937, and the Japanese, under the pretext of protecting themselves against air raids, poisoned the remaining lions, tigers and leopards. On the eve of the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the park housed only 12 monkeys, two parrots and a blind emu. The park was reopened to the public in 1950, and on April 10, 1955 formally named the Beijing Zoo.
Beijing Zoo Today
The zoo has developed rapidly and by 1987 it covered an area of over 40,000 square meters. Bears, elephants, pandas, lions, tigers, songbirds, hippopotamuses, rhinoceroses, antelopes and giraffes were brought in the late 1950s, and a gorilla cage, leaf-monkey cage and aquarium house, was opened, containing specimens of over 100 species of reptiles from all over the world, including crocodiles and pythons.
At present, the zoo houses over 7,000 creatures of 600 different species, including the giant panda, red-crowned crane and Pere David's deer-all unique to China-as well as the African giraffe, rhinoceros, chimpanzee and antelope; American continent; wild ox from Europe; and elephant and gibbon from India.
Some Special Touring Sites
Beijing Ocean Hall was opened to the public inside the Zoo in 1999. It is the biggest ocean hall in China. Besides enjoying the sight of all the different species of fish, you are invited to watch the shows performed by the dolphins and the sea lions here in the Hall.
Moreover, you can visit the many old buildings built in the Qing Dynasty inside Beijing Zoo.
And the busiest area of the Beijing Zoo, also can be treated as the unique Chinese symbol, is the famous Panda House, home to giant and lesser pandas of China. It is located in the northwest area of Beijing. Don't miss the small Red Pandas in the trees as you exit.