Sunday, July 06, 2014

Taipei Zoo (臺北市立動物園) - Cheap, Good & Totally Exceeded Our Expectation! @ Taiwan

The opinions on many travel portals were on extreme ends when i was searching for reviews on Taipei Zoo at Taiwan and i decided eventually to place it under the section of "only if we have time" in our travel itinerary.

Sadly, time wasn't on our side (a fact i frequently mentioned in my Taiwan postings). Yet it didn't stop our dear Alex from insisting on disembarking at Taipei Zoo South Station, part of the Maokong Gondola network!

One of two main entrances to the zoo that just celebrated its 100th birthday, this one in the deserted south lacked the impressiveness of Singapore Zoo and in my opinion, resulted in an assumption that i would have to lower my expectation a little bit.

All assumptions were thrown aside when we were informed of the pricing for the entry ticket for one adult. If you were there with us, you should have seen how our jaws dropped; it was only NT$60 (less than S$3)!!! To add on to the insult of the exorbitant ticket pricing we had in Singapore, it is free admission for children under the age of six and seniors over the age of 65. 

Still thinking it would be a potential scenario of cheapening the deal so that other items could be priced a lot higher, we were again shocked to hear the price for the mandatory shuttle train from Taipei South. NT$5 (less than 30 cents)!!!

That's not all. In comparison to Singapore Zoo where a drink is likely to cost a minimum of S$3 in those vending machines dotted all over the place, the cheapest in Taipei Zoo would only set me back by around S$0.50! 

Well, pricing aside (which is obviously a big draw for travellers on a shoe-string budget), a zoo would be considered pathetic if you could count the number of animals on display using your fingers and toes. So let's commence by showing you what animals Taipei Zoo have (above is an Aldabra Giant Tortoise i think).

With eleven outdoor areas and a number of individual indoor houses, i have to admit we didn't manage to cover the entire zoo; it was close to 1.30pm when we entered and the closing hour is at 5.00pm! By the way, please don't expect pictures of every single animal! 

Bird World was the nearest to us when we dropped at the shuttle train station and we followed a group of giggling children into the aviary! 

Setup was no different from what we have in Singapore although the cool weather made our visit very comfortable! Imagine walking for a long period of time with minimal sweating!!! 

Scarlet Ibis - i don't take too well with big birds over me. There would be a higher chance of getting struck by a deluge of bird poo splattering over a bigger surface area. Not exactly a good omen on an overseas trip. 

Jealous American wood duck. 

I don't know what bird this is. 

In the Qing dynasty, administrative officials were divided into nine ranks but with so many officials, it would be easier to identify the rank by the bird symbol sewn into their official attire. This would be similar to the use of stripes, bars, roofs, crabs and stars in military uniform.

Flamingos; quite depressing to see them caged up. 

This group of children were blocking our way!!! Not sure what the big hooha was but since i was taller (yes, this situation does happen in the midst of younger children) than most of them, i was able to identify the source. 

A male peacock! 

It was proudly strutting around in its full glory which was most gorgeous! It's supposedly good luck to have a peacock feather in the house even though some cultures deem the unique symbol on the feather as an evil eye.

Parrots with their vibrantly coloured plumage are always considered a big draw. Not that exciting for me since there are quite a number of parrot keepers in Singapore who frequently display their pets in public areas like Chong Pang and Farmart.

A sandhill crane i believe. p.s. i have no idea what it was picking on. 

Navigation was simple and clear cut. As the Taipei Zoo is considered one of the biggest zoo in Asia, it is strongly recommended to take a copy of the map which i shall append at the end of this post. 

Amphibian and reptile house. 

Very cute leopard tortoise. Surprisingly, i didn't notice any snake exhibit. Not that it matters as i count snakes as daring Cavin's only nemesis! 

I believe i had a similar picture of this somewhere in my blog although the location was definitely not at Taipei Zoo. That's the problem when Singaporeans visit zoos overseas; majority of the animals on display can be found in our local zoo. 

Something is wrong with the naming of this cafe; Frog Coffee in my opinion seemed to evoke images of frog being added as an ingredient to the caffeinated drink. Frog Prince Coffee, though tacky, might sound better.

Sleepy grey wolf. 

Penguin House - another exhibit that is a must have in every zoo. Anyone still remember the movie, Happy Feet, and the scene when Mumble was confined to a zoo facility and almost went crazy? 

Even till now, i am in an ethical dilemma; on one hand, i believe all animals (except for domesticated ones) should be free while on the other, there would be a diminished interest in learning about animals without the zoos. 

This large enclosure housed something which i have yet to see in my life.

Even though it wasn't a direct view, the fearsome brown bear was no doubt still humongous! 

Not all panels had translated English information and it might be frustrating for those who are looking forward to learning more about the animals. 

A puma.

Eurasian Lynx - beautiful feline with their signature pointy, fluffy ears! 

A seated woodchuck! Anyway, you do realise this is a photo post right? With so many photographs taken, it makes better sense to just have the images rather than words.

Eucalyptus trees! There is a reason why a entire plot of land is dedicated to this specific tree. Hint: you know which marsupial loves the eucalyptus leaves? 

Alex goofing around, as usual.

Spider web. 

This was supposed to house the sika, a species of deer revered in Japan. Didn't catch a sight of them although i did manage to see a few herons! 

A bed of water mint plants. 

Przewalski's Horse - how would i even know how to pronounce Przewalski?! Originated from Mongolia, these wild horses were at one stage almost extinct in the wild. Efforts in the international community have resulted in small communities being re-introduced back to the wild in China. 

African Animal Area!

Grevy's zebra and white rhinoceros! More on the rhinoceros later as there was another bigger closure later one (it beats me on the need to have two separate enclosures to house the same type of animal).

Here's another highlight of our Taipei Zoo expedition.

A live Western gorilla!! A gorilla is NOT a monkey; it has no tail and walk on its knuckles! 

This ape reminded me that there is an upcoming movie that we can soon catch in our theatres; Dawn of the Planet of the Apes! 

Eland easing the itch! 

Random pictures of the surroundings. 

A crash of white rhinos! Notice anything amiss from the picture?

That disgusting pile of rhino poo! They were toilet trained which was good but to have the image of poo and urine mixed in front of you can be very repulsive!

Adhoc display of educational information - this one started with the heading if desert tortoise needs any water and followed with an explanation of what would happen for a dehydrated tortoise. Key answer is, every living creature requires water to survive! 

Lions / lionesses are a symbol for Africa and hence, would not be ignored in a region-specific display. 

Interestingly, the lions and lionesses were displayed depending on planned rosters. Why can't they be displayed together as in the case of Singapore Zoo? 

A bloat of hippopotamuses! Collective nouns can be so funny! Haha. Anyway, i actually swore off "kong ba" in the past as i thought they looked too much like hippo skin! 

Hippos are known to be the most dangerous animal in Africa (they result in more human fatalities than any other animal) and known to be extremely aggressive! Bet the above scene would not be seen in the wild! 

Upgrading in progress! 

Maokong Gondola network in the background of this photograph! You may find out more about network and its crystal gondola at this link here

Chapman's Zebras! How would you identify this zebra over the Grevy's zebra? Chapman has another vague brownish strip in between the black and white stripes! 

Giraffes!! A tower of giraffes - nowadays, a lot of Running Man fans would associate giraffe with Lee Kwang-Soo; one traitorous cast member of the crazily popular South Korean variety show.

Feeding time and boy did they have long tongues! 

Almost useless shelter that would not do any good in events of slightly heavier rain! 

Lazing kangaroos.

Single hump and double-hump camels; dromedary camel and bactrian camel respectively. 

The horned addax! To me, they looked almost like eland (yes, i noted the difference in the hide) although the very trained eye of a zoologist would likely look at me with great displeasure!

Nearing the elephant exhibit.

Oh, since we are on the subject of jumbo, i think it is appropriate to state on record that Taipei Zoo encompasses a total of 165 hectares, of which 90 hectares are open to the public. Singapore Zoo is a baby in this respect, at only about 28 hectares! 

Having said that, the comparatively expensive pricing model adopted by Singapore Zoo means nicer landscaping, better maintenance and more facilities. Which one would i prefer? I am a scrooge so Taipei Zoo would obviously be my preferred choice! 

There were a lot to explore given the size; just insufficient time to do it. 

Bengal tiger! In the tiger species, Bengal tiger has the largest population numbering around 2,000 which would still fall under the endangered classification.

Moth? Butterfly? To find out more about their differences, click here

Tomistoma is the scientific name for false gharial; a freshwater crocodile. We have them in the Singapore Zoo too since they can be found generally in Southeast Asia

Making our way to the third highlight (first and second being Brown Bear and Western Gorilla); the Giant Pandas! Visit here for a separate post on the Giant Panda House and a backside picture of the Yuan Zai! 

The facade of their washrooms was so eye-catching! 

Poo-facts we men can read while we were at the urinals! Bloody hell, the hippos are such disgusting creatures; they mark their territory by SPRAYING their shit!~!!! We should be glad cats and dogs don't do that. 

Remember the eucalyptus trees!? They were planted as a source of food for the numerous koalas housed in not one but two koala houses in the zoo!

Boy were they sleep-deprived creatures! Okay, this shall be my fourth highlight since i have never seen a koala in real life. 

Like any decent zoo in the world, there would always be a children's section to entertain the kids and serves as a visually more appealing education tool. 

Domesticated animals killed for food can be found here; like chickens, geese, ducks, hogs etc. 

Pets as well like rabbits and even chinchillas! Okay, in some countries, these two aforementioned mammals are also commonly used as a food source. 

Whatever the case, i was dead tired by the end of this short yet fulfilling visit! It didn't help that i was so looking forward to the shenkeng trip and the sun was giving way to the moon very soon! 

=====

Location
Drop at Taipei Zoo MRT Station. 

Map
As above.

Ticket Prices
Adult - NT$60
Children - NT$30


For an overview of my 9 Days, 8 Nights Taiwan Trip [Cingjing (清境) - Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) - Taichung (臺中) - Taipei (臺 北)], click HERE.

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