Like most of the places we have explored and visited, Derek and I had researched the Shanghai Wild Life Animal Park before we came to China. I had read that it was a zoo, but that you could interact with the animals…Feed the animals, play with kangaroos, hold baby lion and tiger cubs, and the main attraction at the park: ride an elephant.In the past year I have heard of and have read a lot about the tourism industry and the sad effects it has on riding elephants, especially here in Asia. I knew that the park would be fun to visit if we got around to it, but I also knew that riding an elephant would be something that I was not participating in. We went to the park a few weeks ago, and after a long week of having a head cold and no energy, I am finally finding the time to post about it.After our long day in Disneyland, we met up with a few other people from our group who were also in Shanghai that night. The next day, we all went to the Animal Park together. The Park had a lot of animals, way more than what Derek and I were expecting. We took a bus tour and went through different animal “homes” including lions, tigers, bears (OH MY!) wolves, giraffes, zebras, etc. It was fun to see a lot of those animals up close since I have only ever seen them far away, in cages, at zoos. The park also had ligers! Which I hardly knew actually existed.We saw about 150 different species of wild life, including reptiles, birds, and big & small mammals (like these cute little meerkats….Hello Timone! )
Some of group decided to ride the elephants. Which I do not blame them, when else in your life will you get that opportunity?? But knowing what I know, I just personally could not do it. My opinion about it grew stronger when I saw the baby elephants, who were in a separate cage from their mother, with gashes from hooks on the side of their faces. Because it was proof that what I have read about, is the truth.I know that one or two people not riding elephants isn’t going to stop the way the tourism industry is, and I have no judgement towards the tourists who participate in this once in a lifetime ride. Up until last year, riding an elephant was number 3 on my bucket list. But since I have the knowledge that I have now, I was happy with just feeding this gentle giant and wishing I could save her from the tourism industry.
Derek decided to sit out on participating on interacting with the animals. He was tired that day (I mean he spent 10 hours with ME in Disneyland the day prior, so do you blame him?) He also didn’t care to spend the extra money interacting with these “depressed, sad animals” as he called them.A couple girls from our group fed these hungry hippos. They didn’t seem too depressed about it. 😉 We also fed the baby and adult tigers together. The tigers seemed to enjoy the steak on the stick that we were feeding them, but we could all tell that after 2 1/2 hours of constant random people feeding them, they were over it.
We didn’t make it on time to hold the baby lion and tiger cubs, we actually missed it by 10 minutes. We were pretty sad about it, but being able to see the cute little things through their glass cages made up for it. And by that time, I was actually relieved I didn’t have the chance to give this place more of our money. 😉
I know that zoos and animals are a big part of the world’s entertainment and tourism industry. I know that in the past five years, people have grown more aware of the effects these places and attractions have on animals. I know that even with proper education, people will continue to spend their money and time at zoos and animal parks. I am guilty of it, but I know that the older I get and the more I know, the less happy I am at these type of places. Visiting the panda sanctuary earlier this month made me notice the difference in the animals’ happiness at zoos versus sanctuaries and the effect the animals’ happiness had on my happiness. I’ve always loved animals, but living in China has made my love for them grow so much more. It has opened my eyes a lot to how a lot of animals are treated in this world, and if I had the power to save them all, I would. I know that it’s impossible to do that, but educating myself, and making a decision to not participate in a “once in a lifetime chance” for a picture, is a start.If any of you are interested in learning about the effects that the tourism industry has on elephants, I will put a link below, but if you google “elephants and tourism” there are tons of articles!
PS: How do I get a job with National Geographic? I had way too much fun capturing these photos.
Onto the next adventure, Wren