Monday, November 19, 2012

The Chiang Mai Zoo

We finally felt that we owed it to Simon to do something just for him. He still has an upset tummy, but we thought a morning at the Chiang Mai Zoo was just what he needed. And we were right.

The zoo is located on the outskirts of Chiang Mai at the base of a small mountain, and the zoo itself is sprawled up the hillside. They have a bus and monorail system to help you get around, which was a lifesaver given the heat and the tenuous health status of my fellow travelers.

Our first great find was the hippos. There were 3 enormous hippos lounging in the shade. Their enclosure was such that we could almost touch them, a little scary given that they are one of the deadliest animals in the world. Our first bit of excitement came when one of them took a poop. It reminded me of that book, Everyone Poops, where they have a picture of a hippo swatting its own poo with its tail. It was pretty disgusting, and I am just glad that he wasn't much closer or it could have been a disaster! If I've really got you curious, check this out.

At the other end of an enclosure we discovered a group high school students feeding the hippos! Of course we ran over to join. They had a huge bucket of potatoes, which I believe they purchased there. They immediately handed Simon a handful of potatoes and we started lobbing them into their waiting mouths. They waited with their enormous jaws propped wide open, reveling their huge canine teeth and sharp incisors. Yikes! It was totally fascinating and no doubt my best zoo experience ever. I can't imagine such a setup would ever fly in the US, as there was very little separating us and we could anyone could easily reach over the enclosure and be alarmingly close to those deadly guys.

We moved on and found a mama and a baby elephant lounging around looking for some grub. Simon was immediately drawn to the elephants, which was a little surprising as he is often scared of animals up close. There was another man there feeding the elephants with a basket of cucumbers and sugar cane (available for purchase). He gave the rest of the basket to Simon to feed the elephants- he loved it! We bought two more basket and this could have gone on forever - but there were panda bears to see.

There are only about 30 panda bears in captivity outside of China, so no wonder neither Martin nor I could member ever seeing one. When we entered the panda house, the first panda we came across was sleeping. I wasn't really that excited to see a sleeping panda. The next hall had two more pandas, both sleeping. But wait! Chuang Chuang just woke up! He started walking around, jumped on his swing, swatted at his tethered ball, and ambled around his enclosure. Watching this huge animal move around was amazing. He looked so gentle and kind, I just wanted to sit on his lap! That is not permitted, however, so we moved on to see lions and tigers.

We saw a few more exhibits, including lion, tiger, leopard, jaguar, koala bears, and orungatans. There was lots more to see, but Simon was fading quickly and Martin's back was still quite sore. We headed back to town, sat down at a local eatery serving hainese chicken, and went back to our place for some much needed rest.


1 comment:

  1. Um, those hippo teeth are really disgusting! I love that everyone is so nice to Simon!!