While my mum and aunties were busily shopping at Guangzhou city center, Tracy, Harshad, Mike and I made our way to the famous Changlong Wildlife Zoo and Changlong International Circus. Tracy got us a package deal. The HKD456 package includes a one-way 3-hour bus ride from Hong Kong to Changlong and tickets to both zoo and circus. Not bad for a short weekend getaway.
This is one zoo that allows visitors to be in close proximity with the animals. The name says “wildlife” but most of these so-called “wildlife animals” aren’t people or camera-shy. In fact, we suspected the animals are retired-circus performers.
My first impression was “this looks like our world’s best zoo” back in Singapore. A pretty decent copycat, I thought. It has both day and night zoo. Animals are sorted by their region origins (namely Africa, India, Australia etc). Big open enclosures, natural habitats, cleverly barricaded with natural obstacles (bushes, canals, valleys) to prevent the animals from escaping. The in-zoo breeding program seems successful. There are lots of tigers, pandas and koala bears here. We saw many tiger cubs at the nursery. What impressed me most was the close proximity between the visitors and the animals. Imagine we were just “5cm-glass-wall” away from the Siberian Tiger. Not sure if this is healthy for the animals. The close proximity allows visitors to observe the animals closely but I am sure the prolonged noise and flashlights from the visitors will stress the animals badly.
On foot, the entire zoo-walk stretches about 3km. At the end of our walk, we hopped on a tram and it brought us into an open “Safari” where the savanna animals roam freely along the driveway. The zoo-keepers placed food by the driveway so the animals were drawn close to the tram. The more dangerous predators (lions, cheetahs, brown bears, hippopotamus, rhinoceros) were kept behind barriers.
Later in the evening, my mum and aunties joined us at the Changlong International Circus. It is mentioned on many travel websites that the Changlong International Circus outclassed Macau’s Cirque du Soleil’s ZAIA. Yes, the reviews are right! The 90-min show is a mixture of ZAIA, The House of Dancing Water and the typical animal circus. The acts took place on and off stage and over the audience. There were some elements of surprises. It was very entertaining, fun and spectacular. Certainly more lively and exciting than ZAIA.
Based on the package price (transport, zoo and circus), it is definitely worth a visit! I would love to stay over at the Changlong Hotel! It is amazing to see white tigers running freely by the hotel lounge. A brilliant hotel concept of blending wildlife and people!