If you think office cockroaches are the only wild animals in Beijing, think again. Nature finds its way into most big cities, and Beijing is no exception.
The capital’s winding hutongs are a long way from the steppe, but they still seem to appeal to Siberian weasels. Known locally as huangshulang (“yellow rat wolf”), these night prowlers terrorize Beijing’s rodents after dark, and are relatively common inside the Second Ring Road – the Confucius Temple is a popular weasel hangout.
A post on Baidu a couple of years ago appealed for wild animal sightings in Beijing, and drew lots of reports. Squirrels, rabbits, hedgehogs and voles roam the city’s parkland, keeping one eye out for the snakes and owls waiting for them further up the food chain. Incredibly, just over a year ago, two wild boars made it as far as Haidian before being run down by a car. These porcine pests are well-known to villagers in outer counties like Mentougou, Changping and Huairou, but no one remembers the last time they got this close to Wudaokou.
Boars aren’t the only big animals out there. Last month in Yanqing County, a Eurasian Eagle owl was found injured and nursed back to health. Bird-lovers will be happy to hear it, but other mammals … not so much. The eagle owl has a two-meter wingspan and can take out a fox if it feels like the exercise.
And on Christmas Day 2008, forestry workers trapped a wolf near the Great Wall at Badaling. Wildlife workers plan to transport the Christmas wolf north and release it. Jet-lagged tourists on the Wall had better hope the animal is dropped off on the Mongolian border; wolves can cover 50km a day in search of food, and have a taste for slow-moving stragglers.