VietNamNet Bridge – Saigon does not have many large parks and gardens, which leaves those yearning for a bit of ‘green’ to invigorate the senses, with a scarcity of choices in which to indulge this craving. One option is the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden. This institution was developed by the French in 1865 making it the eighth oldest zoo in the world. The original 12 hectare site has been expanded over time to incorporate the growing animal population and the growth of the world renowned botanical garden.
|A zone for elephants at the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens in District 1.|
Saigon Zoo is a special place for Vietnamese people, school children, tourists, travelers, expatriates and both country and city people who enjoy the space after the demanding and crowded environment of the city. The Zoo has a role, not just as a place of entertainment, but that of conservationist and educator, which it takes very seriously. In this regard it has forged links with the University of Agriculture and Forestry and the University of Pedagogy, where the curriculums have courses on wild flora and fauna.
Once the visitor is through the main gate they will be impressed by the wide avenues of trees and the green lawn areas. The entrance fee is ridiculously low (VND12,000) and includes a map of the zoo which identifies the location of the animals in pictures allowing even the younger children to direct the track they which to take.
There is an amazing variety of animals and birds, small children crowd around the elephants and monkeys. There are chimpanzees, orang-utans and spider monkeys, plenty of wild cats including white tigers, yellow tigers and lions, there are giraffe, zebras, bears, hippopotamus and many different types of deer. There are rhinoceros, crocodiles, anteaters, buffalo and an incredible diversity of birds. We were particularly enamored of the hornbill but the peacocks and flamingos were also spectacular.
In the last few years the zoo has been working hard to improve and replace enclosures to make bigger and better homes for the animals but the restriction on space for so many animals and birds has meant that the Zoo has had to make plans to move out of the city. In the near future construction will commence on a new Zoo Botanical Gardens with an area of nearly 487ha to meet the demand for the development of the city. It will be located in the communes of An Nhon Tay and Phu My Hung, Cu Chi District, HCMC, about 50 km from the centre of the city with the objectives to build the first safari in Vietnam, breeding and conservation of various precious and rare species of animals and plants, scientific research in animals and plants, providing jobs for more than 1,000 people and attracting more than 2 million visitors per year.
We will miss this city venue but we have to look to the future and the wonderful opportunities both for the animals but also for the visitors.
Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens, 2B Nguyen Binh Khiem Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, HCMC.