Suoi Tien Theme Park Zoo
The Suoi Tien Theme Park is located on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. It is classed as a 'Cultural Theme Park' and seeks to show something of tradition, tale and superstition of Vietnam. It is a well constructed bizarre and weird place and every visitor to Vietnam will get something out of a visit.
Amongst the new things to see here are cycling over the crocodile enclosure, a marine aquaria and a bat cave with many bats. There is also a sealion show. Dolphins too...here they leap through hoops of fire.
Some of this of course I do not approve of.
On most days of the week the park is open from 08.00 - 17.30 but on holidays it opens at 06.30 and remains open till 23.00.
I found the place easy to reach by motorcycle from central Saigon.
This place is weird
Saturday 12th May 2007
I rose late but then yesterday was late night. A brisk walk across District 1 and back, mentally noting places I should look at closer. Back at the hotel I had arranged for a motorbike to drive me out to Suôi Tiên Theme Park http://www.suoitien.com on the Ha Noi highway in district 9.
The zoo report below is taken in part from The Itinerant ZooKeeper.
Whilst I have been in Vietnam I have seen many wow's! Things I have never seen before. The fantastic, the odd, the unbelieveable. Suôi Tiên is all of those and more besides. I reckon the last time I visited anything like this was in a chemically induced dream back in the sixties. I would definitely suggest that all visitors to Ho Chi Minh City should put it on their list of 'must sees'. Not everyone will like it but they won't forget it.
The reason for my visit? Well I had learnt from Dave W that some animals were kept here and true enough there was. Within the theme park there is 'Crocodile Kingdom' and 'Zoological World'. There was also a 'Curiosities Display' which may or may not have held live animals...but I did not visit this.
I made my way through this garden of wonderment to the 'Crocodile Kingdom'. This was a big surprise because it was so nice. Roomy, adequate depth, very well supervised, spotlessly clean, educational board (Siamese crocs and CITES certificate), well signposted, plenty of
grounding areas. It was good, one of the best crocodile facilities I have seen though very far away from natural in appearance. I had taken it on board from the sign outside that they were farming the animals so I was not surprised to see the mounted heads and foot keyrings for sale. Not to my taste but I do like leather shoes, eggs, bacon and steak and so I am not going to condemn. There was ample opportunity to feed the crocodiles. You paid for a long fishing rod which held a nylon line with a piece of meat attached to the end. It was professionally done and supervised and I really did not see anything wrong with the idea. In fact it was really good enrichment. There was not hundreds of animals squabbling for one piece of meat which strongly suggests they were well fed. They looked it too. Beautiful condition. Some had problems to the front of the jaws but I put these down to old injuries rather to anything else. So how many? It was a big area, not overstocked, maybe three to five thousand. I really could not say.
The Giant Hand of Buddha
Having seen the crocodile set up I rather hoped that 'Zoological World' would be okay too. It wasn't. I suppose that if you knew nothing at all about animals and read a little you could not go far wrong with producing something halfway decent for a crocodile....except many do.
Anyhow back to the zoo. Just inside the entrance was a stage for a monkey show. At the back sat several stuffed animals, only they weren't, they were live. All big macaques, all dressed up. I really had to look to see that they were real and alive. It was as if they were hypnotised. Perhaps they were or every bit of their natural stubborness (perhaps a poor choice of words) had been somehow removed. In any case I did not hang round for the show.
The zoo was clean. It was spotless, it was well supervised and most of the cages had signs. It was boring, barred, horrible and unenriched. My heart went out to the 48 Asiatic Black Bears I saw here. Everyone of them in a tiny little barred cell. Okay each cell had a water container and each opened out onto a large adjoining yard. I don't know when or if they actually use the yard or when or how they get them back into their individual cells afterwards. The yard(s) were devoid of anything at all of interest though. No, this was truly horrible and as an animal man I could see it would be a nightmare to work. The thing is I actually believe the people who run this place would actually listen to advice and may well act on it. It is another of these places where cruelty has come about by ignorance. I really think the bear set up here has been modelled on a Bear Bile farm. (by way of a postscript after a few days thought...who actually needs/wants 48 bears? Maybe they are a Bear Bile Farm! I mean they are farming the crocodiles so in cultural or commercial terms is Bear Bile looked on any differently that crocodile skins and meat?)
The rest of the small zoo was not much better. Most everything else had space which is a good thing but it wasn't good space. It was clean though. The location was awful and shades of many stupid zoo thinking that funfairs, rides and kids playgrounds and zoos go together. We all know they do not.
Within the zoo were facilities for the hatching and rearing of crocodiles. Heaven only knows how many animals they produce annually.
Back on the street it was raining heavily. The river ran and waterfalls fell into water below. All the kids were out laughing, playing, naked or wet clothed. Some using parked cars as impromptu water slides. The thing that interested me is that they see rain like this every day and yet get just as excited.
Checked my email. There were.....
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