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The place to see pandas, golden-haired monkeys and South China tigers in the city is, of course, the Shanghai Zoo, an ecological garden near Hongqiao International Airport in Changning District. The zoo, rated national level, covers 74 hectares, including more than 7 hectares of enclosures.
In 1900 the area was a horse race track built by the British, in 1916 it became a golf course for businessmen. It was later turned into a park and in 1955 it was officially opened to the public as a zoo. Over the years the Shanghai Zoo has constantly been developing and improving animal enclosures to provide better environments for the residents and a more pleasurable experience for visitors. It has so far received more than 150 million visitors.
Among its 6,000 residents are lions, tigers, giraffes, elephants, polar bears, chimpanzees and other denizens of the world’s jungles, forests, mountains, plains, swamps, deserts and other areas. And lots of birds. The zoo houses 600 rare and endangered species, including giant pandas and other animals indigenous to China. Migratory birds also stop there.
There are so far three giant pandas in the Shanghai Zoo, namely Chuan Chuan, Zhuang Zhuang and Peng Peng. But next year from March to October, 10 pandas from the Wolong Nature Reserve will call the local zoo home for the World Expo 2010 Shanghai.
The trend for zoos worldwide is to educate people about animals, the environment and the importance of harmonious relations between man and other species. Park scenery and afforestation have been carefully planned to simulate environments in the wild and create an open, natural and welcoming environment.
Grasses, perennial flowers, biennial grass flowers and narcissus are planted throughout the zoo, so there is constant change and color with the seasons. The environment is tranquil. There are streams, pools and swan lake. Swan lake welcomes animals as well as visitors. It has natural reeds and trees and attracts pelicans, wild geese, cranes and other birds.
Plants are carefully selected to create natural scenes and ecologically friendly environments. The park biologists also select flowers with nectar that attracts butterflies and other insects. The sight of butterflies, the color and fragrance of blooms are major attractions and many photographers capture the beautiful scenes. The Shanghai Zoo has large green areas with large well-established trees, among the total of 100,000 trees in nearly 600 species.
The zoo provides areas for amusement and leisure, restaurants, boating children’s rides and opportunities for visitors to learn about animals and the environment. It cooperates in scientific and technical research to help people better understand and protect animals.