Hsinchu is a small, but fast growing city in northern Taiwan. It’s the home to Taiwan’s semiconductor industry. I’d been there a few times, but up until recently, had no idea that it had a zoo. Apparently it’s the oldest zoo in Taiwan (1936), so I was curious to see what it would be like. After Google mapping the location, we stopped by for a visit.
The entrance was a paltry 20NT ($0.66). Looking at the map of the zoo, it seemed quite small – what you would expect for 20NT I guess. As we walked toward the entrance to the main path, I saw this sign:
It really surprised me, because outside of the airport, I’d never seen an anti-smoking sign so big. Every male and his dog smokes in Taiwan, so this was a little funny to see. Anyway, onto the zoo adventure.
The animals were situated around a central path that wove around the zoo. It wasn’t very big, and we managed to cover it in about an hour-ish. If you look at every exhibit, you could probably burn about 2 hrs, but we breezed by a few of them simply because the weather was scalding. I’ll go through some of the animals we saw and tell you my overall opinion at the end because I’d like to see if you get the same impressions as I did.
The exhibits at the start of the trail include goats and some sort of small antelope type creature. I’m obviously not a zoologist, so here’s some pics to better describe them:
The goats were feeding and occasionall head-butting each other. Next came the water buffalo:
This morose looking fellow gazed at us with doleful eyes. You can’t see it in the pic, but there is a tiny moat separating him from us. Moving on (skipping a few exhibits) we came upon the monkeys. While a few of them were running around, they were mostly lethargic due to the scorching heat:
And this guy pretty much epitomized the feeling of everyone (humans and non-humans) at the zoo that day:
Hard to see, but he’s dozing off.
Next on the agenda was a bit of beautiful colour with some pink flamingos. These delicate looking creatures were hovering around walking all demurely and looking regal. At one point, one of them extended his (her?) wings to create an impressive sight, but I was too slow with the camera to capture it. Sorry guys!
After beauty came the beasts:
Even though these were small specimens, they still looked like deadly killers lying silent in the pools. As we watched them, they slowly moved to the edge of the pool, but never got out for a full body shot. So we moved on to this guy’s ugly mug:
Like the crocs, he kept most of his bulk in the water, refusing to come out. After staring at us a bit, he went back to his daydreams. Guess the heat was getting to everyone. The hippo was the start of the bigger animals. Next were:
These big cats were walking restlessly up and down the enclosure. At one point, they jumped down into the pool for a dip to escape the heat:
Next to them were the orangutans:
The orangutan’s were sitting stock still, especially Big Daddy in the back. The smaller one in the foreground would sometimes get up and walk in a circle, then sit back down again. And finally we saw the bears:
It looked like this guy was going to start howling – he tilted his head back and opened his mouth, but no sound emerged. It was a little weird to see.
There were other exhibits of birds, antelope and a few other animals we missed, but this is the bulk of what the zoo has to offer.
After walking away, I was a little disquieted. The enclosures looked very basic and barebones. The water in all of the pools looked dirty (and I don’t mean just mud, but man made garbage – plastic, paper etc.) The enclosure where some of the monkeys were was ancient, scratched up and you could barely see through it. The whole zoo had a falling apart look.
If the infrastucture is in such disrepair, I wonder about the treatment of the animals here. Of course, I realize zoos are hardly ideal places for any wild animal, but this one seemed to be even more so. Paying only 20 NT to get in definitely doesn’t help raise funds to make it better. Maybe they should just shut it down and send the animals to the Taipei zoo where they will probably be better cared for.
If you are an animal person, I’d recommend avoiding this zoo as it will make you feel a bit sad. That being said, if you just want to look at some animals and kill time in Hsinchu for cheap, here’s where you can find the Hsinchu zoo: