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People offer pros & cons over Beijing Zoo's removal
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-06-10 22:30

Talk that the Beijing Zoo, located in downtown Beijing and built almost a century ago, may be moved 35 kilometres away to the outskirts has aroused heated discussion.

"The Beijing Zoo has become a part of Beijing residents' ordinary life, so whether to move it or not is a topic connected to the public interest and must be discussed," said Lei Yi, a researcher with the Institute of Modern History of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The zoo, one of China's largest with tens of thousands of animals living in it, was built in 1906 in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) as China's first public zoo.

Early this year, Guo Baodong, deputy to the Beijing Municipal People's Congress, and Chen Ruijun, member of the CPPCC (Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference) Beijing Municipal Committee, made a proposal to move the Beijing Zoo from the inner city to the outskirts.

The current location of the zoo can cause cross-infections between humans and animals, pollute the urban environment and cause traffic jams, the proposal said adding that if it is moved to the suburbs where land prices are cheaper, animals will enjoy wider living spaces.

Relevant municipal departments have asked the Beijing Engineering Consulting Company to organize experts for further consultations and debate, said Wang Fenglin, chief economist of the company.

Experts have reached consensus that whether the zoo is moved or not, the vegetation that has existed for a century will not vanish and a good educational base will not be lost, Wang said.

It is unnecessary for the public to worry, Wang said.

But the public is worrying.

Lei Yi questioned the true incentive for the move, saying that the public has the right to know who will use the land where the zoo is currently located and for what purposes.

Chen Yueqin, the mother of a three-year-old child, is a lawyer working at a Beijing-based law firm. She said she usually takes her child to the zoo once or twice a month, but if the zoo is moved to the outskirts, it will be much more difficult for them to go there.

"The removal of the zoo ignores the right of the public to participate in decision making," she said.

If the zoo is moved out of the inner city, its function to educate will be weakened, said Wu Qing, deputy to the Beijing Municipal People's Congress. "So I firmly object to the zoo removal."

It is not convenient for the youngsters to go to the outskirts, so the removal of the zoo will make it more difficult for them to see animals, said Meng Zhaozhen, academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

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