Saigon does not have many large parks and gardens, which leaves
those yearning for a bit of ‘green’ to invigorate the senses, with a scarcity of
choices in which to indulge this craving. One option is the Saigon Zoo and
Botanical Garden. This institution was developed by the French in 1865 making it
the eighth oldest zoo in the world. The original 12 hectare site has been
expanded over time to incorporate the growing animal population and the growth
of the world renowned botanical garden.
A zone for elephants at the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens in District 1.
Saigon Zoo is a special place for Vietnamese people, school children, tourists,
travelers, expatriates and both country and city people who enjoy the space
after the demanding and crowded environment of the city. The Zoo has a role, not
just as a place of entertainment, but that of conservationist and educator,
which it takes very seriously. In this regard it has forged links with the
University of Agriculture and Forestry and the University of Pedagogy, where the
curriculums have courses on wild flora and fauna.
Once the visitor is through the main gate they will be impressed by the wide
avenues of trees and the green lawn areas. The entrance fee is ridiculously low
(VND12,000) and includes a map of the zoo which identifies the location of the
animals in pictures allowing even the younger children to direct the track they
which to take.
There is an amazing variety of animals and birds, small children crowd around
the elephants and monkeys. There are chimpanzees, orang-utans and spider
monkeys, plenty of wild cats including white tigers, yellow tigers and lions,
there are giraffe, zebras, bears, hippopotamus and many different types of deer.
There are rhinoceros, crocodiles, anteaters, buffalo and an incredible diversity
of birds. We were particularly enamored of the hornbill but the peacocks and
flamingos were also spectacular.
In the last few years the zoo has been working hard to improve and replace
enclosures to make bigger and better homes for the animals but the restriction
on space for so many animals and birds has meant that the Zoo has had to make
plans to move out of the city. In the near future construction will commence on
a new Zoo Botanical Gardens with an area of nearly 487ha to meet the demand for
the development of the city. It will be located in the communes of An Nhon Tay
and Phu My Hung, Cu Chi District, HCMC, about 50 km from the centre of the city
with the objectives to build the first safari in Vietnam, breeding and
conservation of various precious and rare species of animals and plants,
scientific research in animals and plants, providing jobs for more than 1,000
people and attracting more than 2 million visitors per year.
We will miss this city venue but we have to look to the future and the wonderful
opportunities both for the animals but also for the visitors.
Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens, 2B Nguyen Binh Khiem Street, Ben Nghe Ward,
District 1, HCMC.