Home > Opinion, Photos > It’s about family at the Shanghai Zoo

It’s about family at the Shanghai Zoo

When at a zoo, what do you think is likely the more numerous? At the Shanghai Zoo today, I think children outnumbered animals. The place is massive, perhaps one of the largest zoos anywhere around the world. Rides and children activities are abound. While observing the kids, my thought was that they all should grow up to never see strife, at least not what their parents or grandparents have experienced. The tough lesson for the Chinese is to not let themselves become weak, because if they do, it is the plight of 1.4 billion people at stake. Below are pictures I took while at the zoo with my observations.

A boy having his picture taken by his friend. Many kids have their own compact digital cameras, an indication of difference between Shanghai and other tier 1 cities versus the rest of China in terms of affluence.

A bear stands in anticipation for food from his spectators, though a nearby sign has made that possibility remote.

A mother assisting her daughter in using a telescope to look into a tiger’s den. This enables very closed-up view of the animal.

A boy enjoys his bread stick snack. Not shown is his father with a large wedge of watermelon he brought into the zoo. In China, it is still common to see people bring snack from home.

A girl staying hydrated with her bottle of milk while looking intensively at a pair of jaguars on the other side of the glass enclosure.

A group of grandfathers and their grandchildren visiting the zoo. In China, it is much more common for 3 generations to live together. Grandparents play a much bigger role in raising a child. I see this as a great way to preserve culture and values.

Some kids fishing in a children’s activity area.

A grandfather waits patiently after explaining to the girl how to put bait on the hook and what to do once a fish bites.

A mother and her child looks on as other kids play.

A girl enjoys corn with her grandparents. I had just wolfed down mine. The kernel was chewy; my favorite type of corn.

A girl finishing her ride.

A girl engrossed by her beef-flavored instant noodle during lunch time.

Bumper car ride. This image reminds me that Chinese parents in general are more protective. In America, in contrast, that kid would much more likely be riding alone. That protective attitude is in part molded by the hardship and sufferings the older generation has experienced, and hence the desire to want a trouble-free transition to adulthood for their children.

Bumper car ride.

Going all out in bumper car without parental restraint.

A grandfather making sure the girl is hydrated while grandmother provides shade.

A boy poses for his mother. I was a little worried he’d fall in.

A grandfather talks softly while the boy listens intently.

For some reason, a trip to the nearest toilet just won’t do. If the father is American, he’d let the kid urinate on his own. Maybe the boy will get some urine on his cloth, but that self-practice is an inevitability, whether he starts at 4 or at 6. In my opinion, the truth is that this is more a reflection of socioeconomics than anything else. Think what you would do if water use is severely limited and you don’t have a washing machine. You wash less, and therefore spend much more effort keeping ‘clean’ all the time. Hence, the father wants no accident from the boy, even to the point of holding his wiener! (Though I must confess, this is the first time I see some parent go this far and in public!)

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  1. July 16th, 2012 at 15:36 | #1

    I was quite amazed at the Singapore zoo. It took the whole day to explore. That said, I’m no fan of zoos. Animals are often terribly abused in them. I wish there was a better way for people to see animals in their natural habitat and learn about them without any exploitation. Hopefully the Chinese will lead the world in natural habitat animal parks such as the one in San Diego where animals roam relatively freely with their own kind.

  2. July 18th, 2012 at 10:01 | #2

    Judging from the last picture, it is obvious enforcement in China is actually too lax. Try doing that in Singapore and HK, a fine is almost guaranteed!

    Sorry for nit picking, great pics and have a good time.

  3. July 21st, 2012 at 07:21 | #3

    I share your view. Whenever I visit a zoo, I end up feeling sorry for the animals. But, I am conflicted about zoos, because I think they bring awareness about animals to the public about conversation.


    Hey, I am in Zhengzhou now and was at a mall earlier today. I saw toddlers pissing on the large tiled floor of this rather upscale mall – on two separate occasions! This and spitting must go. It pains me to see these habits expressed in public!

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