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White Bengal tigers, snow leopards, yaks...

Urumqi Travel Blog

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A white Bengal tiger at the wild animal park
I got the most sleep I had on this trip so far last night, woke up at nearly 9am! Looking out the window, the school yard below was getting ready for morning assembly, so I had a bird's eye view of the proceedings, which included sermons, flag raising, announcements, and morning exercisses. Then I went and had a leisurely breakfast in the hotel and tried to decide what to do for the day.

I had been told the new wild animal park is the first of its kind in China, where the animals are roaming outside while you see them in your car, and there are snow leopards there, so I thought I would give it a try.

I was told to take the bus No. 528 in front of the hotel, so I did. When it annouced "the zoo", I got off! I was still in the city, and this can't be the wild animal park.
school assembly seen from the hotel window
But there is a stand by the road, with loud speakers saying this is where you get tickets to the wild animal park and where you board the bus. Hmm, OK, so there was a minibus waiting with a family of 6 inside. The people there said the ticket for the park was 30RMB and we would pay 20RMB for the round trip minibus. So I handed over 50 and got a ticket to the park and a bus ticket, I got on the bus and waited with the family, who are local people, with 2 young kids, and 3 generations. After about 20 minutes, 2 more people showed up, and the minibus was ready to go. The new arrivals were a young couple, also local. I wasn't exactly sure if this is the proper procedure to go to the park, but we would see.

The park was about 35km outside of the city and occupied an area of 75 square miles.
view from the hotel window at the red hill park in town
It was opened in 2005. The drive took about 30 minutes, and we were definitely out in the hills and some mountains were visible. When we arrived at the park, the minibus driver offered to take us inside for 30RMB each which was what the park tram cost, but probably a lot more than what the park would have charged a van of 10 people, so I think he gets to pocket the difference. Our group decided it was a fair game to use his minibus, as long as he would stop where we wanted and for however long we wanted. The park trams are on a fixed route and won't stop anywhere in between, and also it was open, and the minibus has windows.

Today was not a busy day at the park, one of the women passenger said that her relatives were here when it was real busy and had problem getting on the tram at the stops, and had to walk.
the mini-bus getting gas, a lot cheaper than in the US, this is gasoline, but other places used natural gas costing at half this price
Anyway, it was not too bad a deal since we had to pay 30 anyway.

We rode into the park, and first we saw some wild asses, and then several ostriches were seen near the road. They came right to the window, and the driver told us to close the windows. The ostriches were pecking at the window, hopefully not because they were mad. Then we saw the giraffe. It was next to a platform, where people could see him at his height. We got off the bus and went to the platform. Note that the giraffe was right there, we could have walked right under him if we were crazy enough to try. On the platform, there were bunches of branches with gree leaves for sale, 3RMB each, to feed the giraffe. No wonder he was here! So we had some fun and photo ops with touchable giraffe.
on the way to the wild animal park, sheep grazing


Then we drove past the bears, tigers and lions to the high mountain area at the far end of the park. Yaks can be seen beside the road, and onthe hills next to the road while we drove by. Then we got off the bus again, and climbed some stairs for a better view of the blue sheep on the rock ridge above. Binoculars were mounted for people to use, but I also had my own. The big blue sheep had circular horns and was very impressive looking. Only he was very far and high up, so even with zoom lens, I still have only a very small photo of him. Down in the valley were herds of asses or maybe Mogolian horses, they were also very far and hard to identify.

Then we made verious stops to see the tigers, lions, woves, bears, etc. They were in very large enclosed fields, the tigers were resting on raised platforms with roofs, the lions were on the ground.
the setting of the wild animal park,
One of the woves came to the viewing area and obviously was waiting for some goodies. There were signs for people to buy live chickens or sometimes breads to feed the animals, but there were no live chickens! Only some breads were available for sale to feed the bears. I don't know if this is a way to help the food bills at the park, but the animals seem to have very large space to roam around and safe from the people! There were at least 5 woves, and one seemed to be a baby. The bears were not very likeable and smelled. There was also an area for jaequar, and I think I saw him resting near the wall at the very end of his space, also a bit too far to get a good look. There was another one near the viewing platform, but behind a glass which made it hard to see him clearly.
entrance to the wild animal park, me and my little Chinese friend I met on the minibus


Then we came to the walking area in the park, where there were kangaroos, many birds, an area for a show where parrots were the main attraction. Peacocks, cranes of at least 3 different kinds, pelicans, emus, pheasants, docks, swans, geese etc were all over the place. You have to be careful where you step, the place was a literal land mine! I wanted to take some photos of the cranes, and walked toward them, then stood still. After a while, one of them decided I was fair game, and came right up to me and pecked at my fanny pack!

Then there were monkeys and more monkeys, they were in an enclosed area, where we could walk in. We also had chance to buy 3RMB worth of peanuts to feed them. But I think the monkeys mostly came up to the people and take the whole bag of peanuts without being invited.
wild donkey at the Tianshan wild animal park


Then there were rhinos, elephants, chimps etc, which I did not bother to see because I spotted the white Bengal tigers! They were in an area of their own, open, large and with a ditch separating the people from their space. The 2 of them were alert and active, and I took many photos of them. I will upload some later because I used the camera raw format and can't convert them to jpeg on the road. The photos uploaded so far are from my little camera. I even got a photo of the tiger raising his tail to mark a rock! Being able to see the Bengal tigers walking around and taking photos was the best part of this day.

It was almost time to leave, I saw some enclosures nearby and found they were for a jaeguar, a couple of snow leopards but I didn't see the polar bears.
Mongolian horses at the Tianshan wild animal park
I also did not walk up to the big vultures aviary but could see several of them from a distance.

We had spent almost 3.5 hours here! It didn't feel like that long, but we had a good time seeing many animals, some real up-close. This is definitely a good model for a wild animals park, and much better than the zoo we saw in Lhasa. The big animals seemed to be much happier here with the space they had, and people were far enough away to not be able to cause trouble for the animals. I am not so sure about the live chicken feeding, however.

They also had another area with animal show, these animals were tigers, lions and bears, they were in cages behind the tent, but no show were offered to the visitors, perhaps not enough people to worth their bother.
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A white Bengal tiger at the wild a…
A white Bengal tiger at the wild …
school assembly seen from the hote…
school assembly seen from the hot…
view from the hotel window at the …
view from the hotel window at the…
the mini-bus getting gas, a lot ch…
the mini-bus getting gas, a lot c…
on the way to the wild animal park…
on the way to the wild animal par…
the setting of the wild animal par…
the setting of the wild animal pa…
entrance to the wild animal park, …
entrance to the wild animal park,…
wild donkey at the Tianshan wild a…
wild donkey at the Tianshan wild …
Mongolian horses at the Tianshan w…
Mongolian horses at the Tianshan …
Mongolian horses at the Tianshan w…
Mongolian horses at the Tianshan …
going up to the platform to see an…
going up to the platform to see a…
the giraffe is free to roam
the giraffe is free to roam
feeding the giraffe
feeding the giraffe
feeding the giraffe
feeding the giraffe
you can see he has open space!
you can see he has open space!
an ostrich at the car window. Abou…
an ostrich at the car window. Abo…
ostrich
ostrich
sign saying blue sheep can be seen…
sign saying blue sheep can be see…
a blue sheep on the ridge, even wi…
a blue sheep on the ridge, even w…
blue sheep with the circular horns…
blue sheep with the circular horn…
cropped close-up of the blue sheep…
cropped close-up of the blue shee…
a very small monkey
a very small monkey
a beautiful and regal looking whit…
a beautiful and regal looking whi…
the Bengal tigers area, with a fe…
the Bengal tigers' area, with a f…
scenery on the way back from the w…
scenery on the way back from the …
yaks
yaks
view of the valley where mountain …
view of the valley where mountain…
tigers in the shade
tigers in the shade
lions
lions
lions
lions
yaks on the hillside
yaks on the hillside
a good looking yak
a good looking yak
a good looking yak and his friend
a good looking yak and his friend
more yaks
more yaks
wolves
wolves
a wolf close-up
a wolf close-up
a wolf pup is in the middle of thi…
a wolf pup is in the middle of th…
bear
bear
bear
bear
more bears
more bears
a bear in his cave
a bear in his cave
yes, there were a few lonely jacka…
yes, there were a few lonely jack…
swans
swans
the bird aviary had many birds, in…
the bird aviary had many birds, i…
pond at the water fowl place
pond at the water fowl place
a white swan chasing a black one
a white swan chasing a black one
and he bites the black swan
and he bites the black swan
a crane
a crane
swan cleaning his feathers
swan cleaning his feathers
emus
emus
pelican
pelican
a white dove
a white dove
and some sort of pelicans
and some sort of pelicans
crane
crane
another crane
another crane
yet another kind of crane
yet another kind of crane
bird talent show at the Tianshan w…
bird talent show at the Tianshan …
a golden fleece monkey
a golden fleece monkey
monkeys
monkeys
African hunting dogs
African hunting dogs
tri-colored African hunting dogs
tri-colored African hunting dogs
tri-colored African hunting dog
tri-colored African hunting dog
2 Bengal tigers at Tianshan wild a…
2 Bengal tigers at Tianshan wild …
Bengal tigers at Tianshan wild ani…
Bengal tigers at Tianshan wild an…
Bengal tiger at Tianshan wild anim…
Bengal tiger at Tianshan wild ani…
Bengal tiger at Tianshan wild anim…
Bengal tiger at Tianshan wild ani…
Bengal tiger at Tianshan wild anim…
Bengal tiger at Tianshan wild ani…
Bengal tigers at Tianshan wild ani…
Bengal tigers at Tianshan wild an…
Bengal tiger at Tianshan wild anim…
Bengal tiger at Tianshan wild ani…
Jaguar Bengal tiger at Tianshan wi…
Jaguar Bengal tiger at Tianshan w…
Jaguar at Tianshan wild animal park
Jaguar at Tianshan wild animal park
the jaguars and snow leopards are …
the jaguars and snow leopards are…
snow leopard at Tianshan wild anim…
snow leopard at Tianshan wild ani…
another snow leopard
another snow leopard
me in front of the Bengal tigers …
me in front of the Bengal tiger's…
scene on the bus, I took the photo…
scene on the bus, I took the phot…
the hotel I stayed at
the hotel I stayed at
street scene in front of the hotel
street scene in front of the hotel
Urumqi
photo by: AndySD