Wed, Jan 28, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Zoo mulls limiting visitors to increase panda viewing time

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taipei City Zoo said yesterday it might reduce the daily maximum number of visitors to 10,000 after it was flooded by complaints that people were being rushed through the newly opened panda exhibit.

Yesterday was the second day the two giant pandas, Tuan Tuan (團團) and Yuan Yuan (圓圓), were on public display. But many panda fans have said they only got glimpses of the pandas before they were hurried out of the Panda Hall.

The zoo said in order for each visitor to have a longer viewing time it was mulling limiting the number of people allowed into the hall to 10,000 per day. It had originally planned for a maximum of 22,000 people per day, allowing each visitor to spend 10 minutes at the most inside the Panda Hall.

A total of 18,899 visited the zoo yesterday, fewer than expected.

“We will not make any adjustments during the Lunar New Year holiday, but after the seven-day vacation is over, we will consider adjustments, depending on the circumstances,” Taipei Zoo director Jason Yeh (葉傑生) said.

Some visitors were also shocked by the price tags in the zoo’s gift shop and the cost of meals at the zoo’s food courts.

One mother said she would not buy a mechanical pencil at the gift shop priced at NT$190 because “it usually costs only NT$20 to NT$30 … you don’t often see [these pencils] being sold for more than NT$100.”

Other items at the store include large stuffed pandas for NT$3,900 and panda graphic backpacks for NT$490.

Many customers limited themselves to buying panda lollipops at NT$35 to satisfy their children’s demands for souvenirs.

The food courts’ “steamed corn bun meal” was criticized by some zoo-goers. For NT$250, customers receive two steamed corn buns, two pieces of broccoli, two hard-boiled eggs, bamboo rice, bamboo shoot soup and red-bean soup.

“They’re just steamed buns, it’s not worth the money,” one woman said.

“The ingredients in the steamed corn buns are quite expensive, but many people don’t know that, so they may feel the meal was priced too high,” vendor Chen Wen-min (陳文敏) said.

Zoo officials said visitors who want to see the pandas this week should come in the afternoon to avoid long lines. The zoo is open through the end of the Lunar New Year holiday on Sunday from 8:30am until 5:30pm.

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