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Thailand Zoological - Chiang Mai Zoo
Chiang Mai Zoo, 100 Huay Kaew Road, Suthep, Chiang Mai, Thailand.
We visited Chiang Mai Zoo in December 2007 and found that it occupies a large area of the base of Suthep Mountain below the well known Wat Doi Suthep. As part of your entrance fee of 100 Baht (for foreigners) you receive a Chiang Mai Zoo Map which we found to be virtually useless as it seemed to bear no resemblance to the topography on the ground!
Our main reason for visiting the zoo, once a private institution, now controlled by the Zoological Parks Organisation of Thailand, was to see the pair of giant pandas.
Chuang Chuang, the male and Lin Hui, the female giant pandas are housed in a purpose built, climate controlled, air-conditioned, giant panda house, which is open when the pandas are awake and feeding, from about 11.00 to 17.00. Entrance to the giant panda house was at an additional cost of 100 Baht per person. You are allowed to stay in the giant panda enclosure for as long as you like, but unfortunately there was no seating available to make your visit a relaxed experience.
The conditions for the giant pandas seemed good, but still rather small for a large animal, in our amateur opinion and we stayed in the building through two feeding sessions, about an hour. The giant pandas did not appear to show any signs of a stress disorder when they were awake. These beautiful animals were active in searching out the bamboo stems, shoots and leaves that were periodically placed about their enclosures.
The rest of the zoo is pretty awful in general, there are not enough signs, many of the animals did not look happy and some enclosures were just dirty concrete prisons or rusting wire cages. Glass fronted exhibits needed the window cleaner to visit! The single male orangutan on his island was a very sad sight to see, as were the pair of Asian elephants, kept in a featureless concrete and dirt enclosure. The animal presentations should be scrapped. We believe there is nothing really to recommend about this zoo apart from a visit to the giant pandas.
If the management cared about the rest of the animals in the same way as the giant pandas then this could be a zoo to recommend but access throughout the zoo is difficult for people who are not of average physical fitness. Wherever you go there is either an up or down-hill walk, sometimes quite steep, and many of the animal exhibit areas are up or down steps, many of which again are quite steep and of uneven tread height. We met a couple of families with pushchairs who were struggling to get round the site and we believe it would be almost impossible to have wheelchair access. There are a number of open buses that follow a one way circuit from a depot about 300 metres, uphill, from the main entrance. You must buy a ticket at the depot to use the buses that stop at a number of main animal exhibition display centres. You may get on and off the bus as many times as you wish in a single circuit.
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