Saigon Zoo

Actually Saigon Zoo is usually written in the more formal way:

Saigon Botanic and Zoological Garden

The zoo is one of the oldest zoological gardens in the world and a popular attraction for tourists and Saigonese locals alike.

Address:
2 Nguyễn Bỉnh Khiêm Street, Bến Nghé, District 1 in Saigon.

Entrance fees (as charged in 2015):
Adults: 50.000đ
Children: 30.000đ

Elephant
Elephant

Saigon Botanic and Zoological Garden houses a wide range of animals, some of them rare snakes and birds. Apart from watching these animals, you may also visit a monument that is dedicated to the Vietnamese soldiers that lost their lives in World War 1, and the Saigon National Museum. Whether you stroll through the gardens and try to communicate with the monkeys or visit one of Saigon’s famous water puppet shows is up to you, but it is all possible at the zoo. Inside the main gate is a Temple of King Hùng (雄王, Hùng Vương), the title bestowed upon the ruler of the Vietnamese people in the ancient times. According to etymologists, Hùng Vương means “Brave King”.

The grounds have two access gates. One points out at Nguyễn Bỉnh Khiêm street while the second entrance is in Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai street around the corner.

White Tiger
White Tiger

Saigon Zoo: Education & Conservation

Education of the people and conservation of rare animals is the mission of the Saigon Zoo. They have successfully bred the crested argus pheasants in captivity, a rare species of birds. 1999, a plan to educate the public about protecting plants and animals was developed and introduced. People from all over the world, as well as approximately 3200 students visit the zoo each year to study the flora and fauna of Southeast Asia. They can watch a movie about conservation of natural wildlife and listen to lectures on the topic.

Hippo
Hippo

While they write education on their flags however, the management (and many visitors) seem to lack the same for the most part. When they set up an event, the “music” is as noisy as usual in Vietnam and with my sensitive ears, I can really feel with all the poor animals living in a radius of at least 300m. I witnessed monkeys freaking out, throwing trash at visitors (something they definitely learned from them), while the deafening techno beat is driving everything but the coldest reptiles crazy.
I understand it is difficult to run a zoo like this without government funding and I also know attracting Vietnamese visitors always requires loud music – but once you think about it from the perspective of the “captives”, the experience is heart breaking.

Nai Nai
Nai Nai

The zoo is home to a broad variety of mammals, birds and reptiles. Apart from the native species, there are many exotic animals that are exhibited in Vietnam for the first time. For example the pygmy hippo, the jaguar and some American flamingos. Lotus lakes on the grounds contain a variety of different lotus species, a plant very much revered in Vietnam.

At the moment, 590 animal specimen out of a variety of 125 different species, as well as 260 plant species call the Saigon Botanical and Zoological Garden home. Among the different plants, there are 20 species of orchids, 32 cacti and 34 of bonsai species. The zoo is divided in one animal conservation area, a plant conservation area, the orchid garden and a small amusement park with animal statues that look kinda weird. Some of the rare and plants in the botanical collection have been brought in from South America and Africa.

Saigon Zoo
Saigon Zoo

History of the Saigon Zoo

The Zoological Gardens were commissioned by Admiral Pierre de la Grandière in the year 1864. Saigon Zoo is over 150 years old and on rank number eight on a list of the worldwide oldest zoos (no. 1 being Zoo Schönbrunn in Vienna). At the end of 1865, the gardens occupied 20 hectares of land northeast of Thi Nghe Channel. In the year 1869, it opened its gates to the public.

Monitor Lizard at the Saigon Zoo
Monitor Lizard at the Saigon Zoo

Over the time of it’s existence, the popular destination experienced many changes. Various sections of the zoo were connected by a bridge across the channel in the year 1927. 1985, electric fences and the stone jetty were added as an improvement of the famous landmark ans since the year 1989, many facilities have been frequently renovated to make the cages more suitable for the animals. Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden was recognized as a member of the Southeast Asian Zoological Association in 1990. In the past, Saigon Zoo received frequent attention from foreign supporters. In 1993, the zoo director announced a long-term plan to improve housing, management and animal care, which came to a conclusion in 2003. After several years of active construction work, the grounds are the largest zoo of Vietnam.

Ibis
Ibis