Dam Sen Theme Park Zoo
Dam Sen Theme Park Zoo
The Dam Sen Theme Park Zoo is set within the Dam Sen Theme Park in District 11 of Ho Chi Minh City in Southern Vietnam. It is possible to reach the Park on a motorcycle from the city centre but it is a somewhat dusty and bumpy journey. Alternatively, but a bit slower it is possible to get there by catching bus number 11 from the Ben Thanh market. The park is open from 09.00 to 21.00.
Even if zoos are not your interest the park is well worth a visit because of it's wierdness to the Western mind. It is distinctly different. There is a large water park here too so bring your swimming costume. Great for kids but fun for adults too.
The zoo report below is taken in part from The Itinerant ZooKeeper.
Tuesday 15th May 2007
No rain this morning though the sky strongly hinted at it. I took a motorbike over to visit Dam Sen Theme park. http://www.damsenpark.com.vn
This looked very much the poor cousin of Suôi Tiên which I visited on Saturday. No less weird though but in a different sort of way. Definitely needs a wash behind the ears.
The first animal 'attraction' I came too was the 'Bird and Wild Beast Garden'. In essence it was a walk through aviary with a few cages and aviaries within. Several of these were empty. I was surprised to see a melanistic Jaguar (if that's what it was). A rather scabby looking specimen hidden away in the shadows at the back of the exhibit. There was a beautiful pair of Black Shanked Doucs Pygathrix nemaeus nigripes with a youngster. Then there was a solitary Langur the likes I have not seen anywhere else. I really don't know what it was (sorry camera on phone misbehaved). It was probably a Silvered Langur Trachpithecus cristatus but most clearly in very poor condition though with no hair on its tail. The creature was a grizzled very pale grey and looked almost ghostlike. I thing ghost langur would be a good descriptive. There were a couple of Asiatic Black Bears here and several macaques.
Dam Sen is very popular
Overhead there were Painted Stork chicks clicking away in a nest overhead just feet from an overhead railway. Below there were snakebirds and rails. Probably much else hidden about. The vegetation helped to smudge the edges but see through that then this was a horrible place.
Moving out of the garden I came to two large cages. It was quite obvious that a bit of money, effort and a touch of know how had been at work here...though not recently. The first cage held 4 white cheeked Gibbons. They looked content enough. Next door there was two Orangutans. Maybe 3 and 4 years old. They looked healthy but pissed off. Probably had something to do with the fact they were in a holding pen rather than their cage proper.
Further on still was an 'off show' yard. Here I saw two baby Asiatic Black Bears. Next to them was 14 tiny concrete cages. 11 of these held a chained Pig-tail Macaque. I can only imagine these animals were somehow involved in the 'Animal Circus' which I did not hang around for.
Next was a huge shaded, concrete based elephant stall. Room enough with plenty of space to spare for the five Asiatic females it held. Sadly all were chained. Who knows though maybe later they were given free run. They were in good condition, well maintained and none were showing even a hint of stereotypic behaviour. A hundred yards away stood a riding elephant. All done up and looking pretty. People appeared happier to feed it sticks of sugar cane than sit on its back.
Wandering on still further past various rides and amusements I arrived at 'Cobras Kingdom'. In the middle of this stood the 'Crocodile & Snake Leather Souvenir Shop'. Cobras Kingdom only held around half a dozen Cobra and a variety of other snakes. They were all held in pits or cages and looked well though I always worry about the problems of feeding and assessment when you hold more than half a dozen snakes together.
There were also two big round cages here. One of these held a Sun Bear Ursus malayanus and the other a large Asiatic Black Bear. Boring cages though. Cobras Kingdom bordered onto Monkeys Island which held a number of Pig-tails plus a few other odds and sods. They did not look happy. Do they only get carrots to eat here?
Lastly there was the 'Crocodiles Farm'. This was small, tatty, nasty and overcrowded. Next to it was a big natural looking pool with a number of large animals in it. This looked nice and with a few minor adjustments to barriers and such would be a credit to have in any zoo in the world.
This pool though was the site of "Yacht Fishing For Crocodiles". This (I hope) does not mean that you actually catch the crocodiles but rather go out in one of the meshed motor boats I saw and feed with fishing poles. Mind you it could be a case of catching your own belt or handbag....I really don't know.
That was it for animals, unless there were others hidden away elsewhere. Not a great place but not as bad as some.
Bears on Scooters are not a good idea
I have seen quite a lot of people in Ho Chi Minh City with a sticking plaster on each temple. Chan did one day but she could not explain more than to say it was for the pain. Do they work I wonder? It made me think back to when Roz was having migraine attacks when we lived in the desert. A friend of ours, Serbas Khan, would turn up with words fro the Koran written on a band to tie round her head. Roz said it worked. On the same tack a friend of mine used to be chief engineer in a diamond mine in Namibia. Workers there expected some physical evidence of a cure for head pains. This was quickly solved with a asprin....affixed to the head with a sticking plaster.
Sad to be leaving Vietnam. Most definitely. Every day has been an adventure. The airport waiting lounge is....
Dam Sen is a bit Bizarre
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