The excitement of going to the zoo never gets old. Even as I got older and outgrew my pigtails, the sense of adventure and joy that accompanied zoo outings never left me. I see myself at six again, riding on my dad’s broad shoulders, squealing as he bends and dips me precariously close to the animals. My brother and I link hands and weasel our way to the front of the polar bear enclosure, pressing our sticky fingers against the cool glass, gaping in awe at the polar bears and marveling at the wonders of their white fur, speckled green with algae…
My recent trip to the Taipei Zoo felt as much like an adventure as my childhood trips, all those years ago. The sun was out and about and for once, I felt thankful for its warm glow on my face. Trust me, trying to balance an umbrella in one hand and your camera in another does not for good travel make.
At a sprawling 90 hectares (the area opened to public), I think I spent more time walking within the zoo then actually visiting the animals. Most of the walking paths encircle the enclosures, allowing visitors to view the animals from different angles. So if there’s a crowd in front of one enclosure, simply walk on a bit further to enjoy a quieter view of the animals, free from jostling elbows and sweaty t-shirts.
Compared to the Singapore Zoo, Taipei Zoo also boasts more animals of each species. I was surprised to see a whole family of giraffes and felt heartened to know that though they may be in captivity, they won’t be lonely!
Food and drinks at tourist
traps attractions like the zoo tend to be prohibitively expensive. Not so, at the Taipei Zoo. I love how the zoo has been created with people, and not revenue streams in mind. From the token admission fee of only NTD 60 (NTD 30 for students) to the convenience of being able to buy cheap disposable raincoats at vending machines, the Taipei Zoo has outdone itself in terms of anticipating the needs of visitors. There are many restaurants within the zoo that dish up affordable food, and also no shortage of tables and benches for people to rest their weary feet.
Tuan Tuan, Yuan Yuan and their adorable daughter, Yuan Zai are undoubtedly the stars of Taipei Zoo. Together, they live in the Giant Panda House, seemingly unaware that every playful roll and tumble they take draws breathless oohs and aahs from the adoring crowd gathered outside their pen. Alas, my phone died on me before I could capture a shot of them.
Again demonstrating why they deserve a medal in customer service, the Taipei Zoo has come up with the brilliant idea of allocating Panda Visiting Tickets to all visitors. This ticket states the timing at which you should visit the pandas and helps to reduce the waiting time for all.
Visiting the zoo may be the ultimate touristy thing to do, but the kid in me enjoyed every minute of it. There’s even a McDonald’s inside the zoo; if cuddly animals can’t bring out your inner child, then the golden arches and Happy Meals would be sure to recall memories of your childhood.
Getting there: Take the MRT and alight at Taipei Zoo Station, the same station for the Maokong Gondola.