Mon, Oct 30, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Taipei Zoo marks 20th anniversary of relocation to Muzha

By Angelica Oung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Eight-year old Chuo Liu-ting, wearing her favorite elephant hat, and her mother Chen Shu-hua yesterday point to an old photo of the two taken during a visit to Tapei City Zoo. The zoo yesterday celebrated the 20th anniversary of its move from Shilin to Muzha.

PHOTO: LIN HSIANG-MEI, TAIPEI TIMES

Taipei Zoo yesterday celebrated the 20th anniversary of its relocation to its current premises.

The zoo moved from Yuanshan in Shilin District to Muzha, Wen-shan District, in 1986.

Visitors were entertained by various activities, including quizzes on conservation, displays of Taiwanese wildlife and habitat, free photos of animals and outdoor music concerts.

A 46cm tall cake was on display for the event, and 800 small cakes were distributed to visitors.

Over the years, the zoo has evolved from a showcase where animals were put on display with little regard for their condition into a center for research and education, as well as a place where wild animals are housed in increasingly natural and humane surroundings, zoo Deputy Director Yang Chien-Jen (楊建仁) said.

The zoo has also undertaken a number of on and off-site research activities, he said.

"We sent a five-person contingent to Green Island, who found fruit bats [that were] thought to be extinct," Yang said. "We've also done a lot of research on the Formosan black bear, including observing previously unknown behavioral patterns and helping universities analyze bear droppings for stress hormones in our in-house lab."

The zoo was not quite so animal-friendly in the old days, 20-year veteran volunteer Wang Hu-cheng (王虎城) said.

"The animals were treated purely as exhibits," he said, recalling how things were in the zoo's old grounds in Yuanshan.

"Nocturnal animals were awakened when there were visitors; monkeys were made to perform. Their cages were so small and cramped that many became nervous wrecks and went around in circles," he added.

Back in those days, Wang said he helped out by feeding walruses and wrestling big-horned rams to the ground to be birthed by the vets.

"I've been volunteering at the Taipei Zoo for 23 years and I'll keep on volunteering as long as I can. I've learnt so much by helping people," he said.

"It's a happy place," he said, who is affectionately known as Tiger Wang (王老虎) among the staff and frequent zoo visitors.

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