When we first arrived in Beijing we agreed not to visit any zoos or farms, we’d read too much about the poor conditions in which the animals are kept. So we stuck with the Beijing Aquarium and Blue Zoo, and both these venues have provided fun days out for our kids. For animals in the wild, we would instead stick with visiting farms and safari parks back in the UK. However, when you’re staying in Beijing for golden week, and you want plenty of kid friendly trips out (without the crowds) your options can be limited. The kids were desperate to see some animals, so we searched online and one option kept coming up, Beijing Wildlife Park.
According to its website, this large ecological park specializes in animal protection, animal saving, wildlife training, and reproduction. The park covers an area of 3,600 acres, with 10,000 rare wild animals, including golden monkeys, brown-tailed monals, and bustards. The park has many birds on display which are facing extinction. Online reviews were very positive, so we packed a picnic, and headed off to Daxing. The drive takes just over one hour from the center of Beijing, depending on the traffic, of course.
Our first impression was how vast the Park is. Split into two halves, one side housing wild animals such as lions, tigers, and bears, the other side the smaller animals and birds. We decided to start with the smaller animals, and set off for a walk around a huge lake, which allowed us to see black geese, swans, and a variety of ducks. The petting zoo had a range of animals that we could feed, including goats, rabbits, pigs, horses, and a very old looking yak. Beyond the petting zoo, we watched raccoons and lemurs at play, peacocks strutting, and meerkats poking their heads out from their burrows.
The park has a few safari options, where you can see animals roaming outside the confines of a fence or cage. You can drive yourself in a mini-car, which fits two people. Luckily this option only visits the areas with the friendly herbivores. If you want to see the more dangerous big cats, wolves, baboons, and other wild animals, you are safely sat inside a large caged vehicle. We even saw a Beijing bus trundling through the wilds, not sure whether it was lost or part of a tour.
We opted for the self-drive safari, and it was so much fun. You trundle along as part of a convoy, pulling over as and when you want to feed some animals, and take some photos. Along the way we met lama, deer, and kangaroos. At one point a cheeky deer poked its head into my car, and stole my daughter’s bag of popcorn. There’s no time restriction for the cars, and you can drive round the route as many times as you like. Along the route, there are plenty of opportunities to buy additional buckets of animal feed. The kids had a great time getting up close to the animals.
Once our safari was complete, we found a lovely spot for a picnic. There are plenty of benches and areas to sit, or if you prefer there is a restaurant and a few cafes. Several toy stalls sell the usual bubble wands, fairy wings, and bouncy balls, but unfortunately we didn’t find a shop selling animal toys or wildlife park gifts. We only managed to complete half the park in the four hours we were there, but we did get to see beautiful brown-tailed monal. We will definitely go back, but I’m still not sure we want to see the big animals. Despite being really impressed with the parts of the park we did see, I think we’ll go looking for lions and tigers outside of China.
Beijing Wildlife Park 北京野生动物园
Donghulin, Daxing Yufa, Daxing District 大兴区大兴榆垡东湖林
Daily 8.30am – 5pm, last ticket 3.30pm.
RMB 80, RMB 50 (students), free (kids under 1.2m).
Contact (8921 6666, 8921 5159, firstname.lastname@example.org)
beijingkids Shunyi Correspondent Sally Wilson moved to Beijing in 2010 from the UK with her husband and son. Her daughter was born here in 2011 and both her kids keep her happily busy. In her spare time, Sally loves to stroll through Beijing’s hutongs and parks. She is a (most of the time) keen runner and loves reading: books, magazines, news, and celeb websites – anything really. Sally is also a bit of a foodie and loves trying out new restaurants.
Photos: Sally Wilson, Brian Gratwicke (Flickr)