It is debatable as to whether a trip to a city zoo is a good idea when travelling. However, every now and then my love for animals gives me the curiosity to go and check out a zoo when I am in town. Taipei Zoo was one of the highlights of my trip to Taiwanese capital.
I travelled from my hostel in the city’s Da’an district to Taipei Zoo on the Taipei Metro, which is a great and safe way to travel. I had a bottle of Coke with me when I got on the Metro, but I was politely reprimanded by a local man (in English) because I wasn’t allowed to drink on the train. I made sure I put away my bottle of Coke and just enjoyed the 20 minute or so ride to the zoo, which has its own station on the network. In fact, the entrance to Taipei Zoo is but a 2 minute walk eastwards from the exit of Taipei Zoo Metro Station.
Taipei Zoo had its initial beginnings in 1914 when the country was still in Japanese occupation, but the zoo as we know it today can be traced back to 1970. It is 165 hectares in size, with suspiciously only 90 of those hectares being open to the general public. Nevertheless, I have visited other zoos in Asia, and aside from the magnificent Singapore Zoo, I think Taipei Zoo is probably among the very best. It has a tropical setting, with spectacular background scenery behind each of the exhibits.
As can be expected, the zoo contains most of the impressive species you would normally see in a zoo, and all of them seem to be treated very well. My personal favourites were the Bengal Tiger and the elephants. I also like the panda exhibit which required a separate ticket, although I was rushed through this exhibit and was not allowed to take any photos.
One thing I found funny about my visit to Taipei Zoo was that I kept bumping into the same group of 4 American girls who were here on a student exchange trip! They expressed interest in why I was walking around alone taking so many photos of the animals, and I just told them that I was backpacking the world and interested in animal welfare. We shared a Gong Cha together and talked for a while, and it’s amazing how conversations like this can start between an Englishman and a few Americans in the weirdest of places – a zoo in Taiwan!