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Review by Timothy Lim April 2006
I visited the Seoul Zoo with my wife and daughter in April 2006.
Since this was my first visit to the zoo, I cannot say how much things may have changed since the earlier reviews. However, my general (and decidedly non-expert) impression of the zoo was that it equivalent to the standards of most zoos in the United States. With some exceptions, the enclosures for the large animals were quite large. This was particularly true for the lions, giraffes, and elephants. The lion enclosure, for example, was an open air enclosure that measured at least 150 yards long and maybe 50 yards wide (this is only a very rough estimate). The elephant enclosure seemed larger, although it was hard to tell since the enclosure was subdivided into several different areas for different elephants. Still, each enclosure was fairly large--much larger, for example, than the elephant enclosure at the Los Angeles Zoo.
I did not notice many of thing negative things that other reviewers cited. The Tropical House, for instance, was not particularly smelly inside--in fact, the smell was hardly noticeable, except for what you would normally expect. The landscaping in many of the enclosures, while not luxurious, seemed appropriate. "Stereotypical behavior,"
while present, did not seem significantly different than for any other zoo. Almost all enclosures had areas for the animals to go in order to escape "staring eyes." Most of the exhibits appeared to be reasonably well maintained, and I did not observe any animals in obvious distress.
The propensity for visitors to feed the animals, however, has not disappeared. I observed this on one occasion, but I also observed signs on most enclosures that instructed visitors to not feed the animals. This is certainly one area in which the Seoul Zoo could be improved--I think it would require an intensive public education campaign and much stricter surveillance.
I should also note that the zoo is not as hilly as some of the reviewers imply. There is a slope, but not an excessively steep one.
I walked around the entire zoo twice with a 3-year old in tow, and we had no real problems (although, for the second lap, we rented a stroller). I should also note that the paths for visitors were generally very well maintained. They were very wide and well-paved.
The landscaping was bit sparse, but not bad. There were also plenty of places to sit and relax, and food booths spread throughout the park.
Overall, I thought the Seoul Zoo was very good. It was not, by any means, "heartbreaking," as one reviewer commented--except, of course, to those who think that any zoo, regardless of quality and standards, is inappropriate. It may be the case that things have improved drastically over the past few years, but this is all the more reason to emphasize that the quality of the Seoul Zoo today is, in my opinion, very high.
This review submitted by Brett: October 2000
The Seoul Zoo is a fairly well maintained, large modern zoo on a hilly site with a fair number of trees. The animals seemed healthy overall, but there was a lot of stereotypical behavior (pacing, hair pulling, etc). The cages and exhibits are quite small and often the animals have no where to escape the staring eyes -- this is especially a problem in the primate house. The day we were there, the primate house was filthy and in bad need of paint and repairs. Compared to other animal facilities in Korea, this is probably the best.
Childrens Park Zoo in Pusan, Korea is a small facility with deplorable conditions. Many animals looked unkempt, thin, or ill. Visitors tossed food and treats to the animals without regard for their regular diets. The lion had a severe limp. The cages were very small and poorly maintained. This is NOT a zoo to visit if you care about animals. It's heartbreaking.
There was another little zoo I visited on the side of a mountain in Pusan which was much nicer than Children's Park Zoo, though just as small. I can't for the life of me remember the name though. It was VERY hilly and poorly paved -- a few folks I went with brought strollers and had to abandon them and carry the kids up and down the hills. The most memorable parts were the aged elephant that took apples gently frommy hand, and the Jindo Gai dog (the National dog of Korea) in a cage.
This additional review submitted by Niels Johs Legarth Iversen
Just a couple of additions to what Mr. Brett has written about some Korean zoos. The largest of these, in the Grand Park area south of megacity Seoul, has not always been there. When the Japanese invaded Korea in 1919 they immediately set out the eradicate any trace of a separate Korean identity, and one thing they did to accomplish this was to raze to the ground most of the buildings of the royal palaces of Seoul (or rather palatial compounds). On the empty area in one of the compounds, the Ch'anggyônggung, they established the first 'modern' zoo of Korea, - and I guess they didn't do this to please the Koreans. So after the war it was clear the zoo had to go, but it took until 1970 before it was established in the Grand Park.------Tongnae Zoological GardenPusanIn his review Mr. Brett mentions that Pusan has got two small zoos. The one at the Childrens park I haven't seen, and judging from his description I have no reason to regret that I didn't make it there. The other one, the one at the mountain side (or rather hillside), is part of the Kumgang Park. On the hilltop there is a large old fortress, and at its eastern slope you find a whole complex with among others things a botanical garden, a zoo, an amusement park and a Marinebiological museum with an aquarium and terrarium. The nearest metrostation is Myongnyungong, around one km away from the zoo entrance. The description given by mr. Brett is correct: it is hilly and somewhat delapidated, but not excessively cruel to its inhabitants, - in fact the inconveniences are as much on the public's side of the fences.
Additional Review by Nigel Foster: January 2001
I must agree with the comments of the other person , when I visited the zoo , the tropical house was very smelly inside . The zoo obviously had been planned quite well , but I felt that there were too many animals in the enclosures , and there was inadequate landscaping to soften the zoos enclosures .
When I was there , a zookeeper was very angry at one of the zebras , and threw a yardbroom at it . The zebra responded by charging at the keeper ! Lets hope that not all the relationship between keepers and animals are at that level .
From the entrance gate there is a chairlift that takes you up to the far end of the zoo ( at its highest point ) and you can walk down from there . You get a good panorama from the chairlift , but there is a seperate charge for riding the chairlift
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