Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Pandas and raccoons at Beijing Zoo

With a couple of hours to spare before covering the men’s 200-meter final Wednesday, I went to the Beijing Zoo. It’s an interesting place. Some of its exhibits are charming. Some are very out-of-date, which makes some sense given that this zoo has been around in some form since 1906.

The main attraction, of course, are the giant pandas. They were beautiful.

But here’s the strangest thing about the zoo: Its American animal exhibit. First of all, there were hardly any animals from the U.S. whatsoever. I know we’re not exactly Africa in terms of impressive mammals, but c’mon. Do you know which American animal rated the most prominent display?

The common raccoon. A raccoon family had its own glass cage in a prime area and was very popular. Chinese folks kept touching the glass and excitedly taking pictures.

Cost of an adult admission at the Beijing Zoo: $2.25. Cost of an ice cream and a bottled water at the zoo: 45 cents each. Cost of watching the Chinese people who were watching the raccoons at the zoo: Priceless.

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