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Harbin zoo park to open soon
By Li Fangchao (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-08-17 00:18

A host of animals rarely seen in China are set to appear at a new zoo park, one of the largest in the country, in the capital of Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.

Around 3,000 creatures will come from abroad to live in the 850-hectare zoo, where they will have specially designed "homes."

Exchanges are under way with foreign zoos, and some in China, to bring a wide variety of animals to Harbin.

Some 260 animals, belonging to 22 species, such as white tiger, white lion and rhinoceros, will be imported from South Africa and more than 150 species, such as giant pandas, polar bears and penguins, will be introduced from domestic zoos.

Different styles of "homes" have been designed by the zoo's experts to make sure that the animals have the most comfortable living environment.

Equipment will be fitted in some of the "homes" to simulate a tropical environment to ensure that some of the overseas arrival do not find Harbin too chilly.

Six leopards from South Africa have just arrived at the zoo, which will finally be home to more than 6,000 animals belonging to 400 species.

The leopards, the first batch of animals to be imported from South Africa, have to spend a month in quarantine. Their daily food and health will be under surveillance during this period.

Other animals will arrive soon at the zoo, which is due to open to the public in the middle of next month.

With almost all the main areas of the park are well prepared for the opening, planners and constructors believed more than two years of hard work has paid off.

Harbin North Forest Zoo, the largest one of its type in the country, is located in the Gezidong (Pigeon Cave) District of Acheng on the outskirts of Harbin. It is 41 kilometres away from the city centre of Harbin.

The first phase of the project, which began in June last year, is near completion. A total of 392 million yuan (US$47 million) is needed for the entire project.

The project has aroused great interest from all walks of life in Harbin since the municipal government selected the current site for the new zoo.

Gezidong Region is very hilly, with forests covering 85 per cent of the land. The site was selected after an investigation conducted by experts from the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

Acheng is the place where the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234) originated. The zoo therefore lies on the tourist routes from Harbin to the site of the Jin Dynasty capital, Yuquan Hunting Ground and the Yabuli Skiing Ground.

The zoo will have 12 zones, including an animal performance zone, an entertainment zone, a herbivore zone, a sightseeing zone, a "singing bird wood," a scientific research and reproduction zone, a zone for polar animals and a prehistoric animals zone.

"We are going to turn the forest zoo into an ecological leisure park. We are aiming at combining the protection of animals, tourism, and natural science education and research," said Wang Jinjun, director of the new zoo.

Local animals, such as the northeastern tiger, will be seen with animals from tropical and Polar areas such as African elephants and polar bears.

It is reported that 30 million yuan (US$3.6 million) has been allotted to importing animals from abroad. Experienced animal experts from the zoo have been sent to South Africa. Some animals, such as white tiger and white rhinoceros will be introduced to this northeastern city for the first time.

The city's old zoo will become a valuable "green lung" of the city. The new owner of the 37-hectare site, the Harbin Institute of Technology, will set up a science and technology park.

But it has to ensure that its building work will not destroy any of the former zoo's trees or grassland, according to the requirements set by the municipal government.

The science and technology park will also be open to local residents. It will serve as the biggest area of green space in the centre of Harbin.

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