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110-year-old Beijing Zoo may partially relocate: Urban planner

By Liang Shuang (chinadaily.com.cn)

Updated: 2016-03-10 12:42:32


110-year-old Beijing Zoo may partially relocate: Urban planner

Visitors flock to the special enclosure for Giant Pandas in Beijing Zoo, China, in this 2009 file photo. The panda is one of the eight that have been transferred to zoo from Sichuan since the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008.

Parts of the 110-year-old Beijing Zoo may be relocated to improve the living conditions of the animals and ease traffic jams for visitors, an official said on the sidelines of the ongoing legislative sessions.

"We are indeed working on the possibility of the partial relocation of the Beijing Zoo," Huang Yan, director of Beijing Municipal Commission of Urban Planning and a CPPCC member, told the media on Monday.

Built in 1906, the Beijing Zoo is the first public zoo in China and receives 5 million visitors annually.

The zoo's location in the city's core means some animals have suffered from the noise, despite the soundproof facilities, Huang said. The zoo is also packed with tourists on weekends and holidays, resulting in heavy traffic jams and restricted passenger access to the nearby subway station.

A similar proposal, which suggested relocation of the entire zoo, was considered by a small group of experts in 2004, but was sidelined by objections. Earlier in January, the topic was reintroduced by Lian Yuming, dean of the International Institute for Urban Development in Beijing.

In contrast to the previous proposals, this one recommended that animals fit to live under the current conditions should stay, Huang said.

"This would reduce the number of tourists, and would be beneficial to the animals," Huang said. "The remaining animals would still fulfill the basic needs of the tourists, as well as give the native residents some memories to hold on to."

Liu Yuye, a Beijing native who has visited the zoo more than 10 times, said a relocation would reduce her visits.

"I would probably not go as often," she said. "It's such a historical place, and I think the animals would have problems re-adapting. I don't want to see it move."

Others showed more appreciation for the benefits of such a change. "Although I'm not in favor of the move, if the move actually benefits the animals, I think it's understandable," said Wang Yanping, holding her child in her arms after visiting the zoo.

Visitors would likely be keen on the zoo keeping its rare and giant animals at the current location. "I certainly hope that the pandas would stay," Liu said.

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