Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens is one of the first projects undertaken by the French after establishing Cochinchina as a colony was founding these fantastic, lush gardens. It’s an ideal place to spend your day-off.
Located on Nguyen Binh Khiem in District 1, Ho Chi Minh city, it features a range of animals including rare snakes and birds. Besides hosting animals and plants, there are two fascinating monuments on the grounds: A memorial dedicated to Vietnamese soldiers killed in World War I, and the Saigon National Museum. Beware, some of the animals’ living conditions are cramped. Also stroll through the gardens, tour an exhibit or catch a theater show, all inside the grounds.
Saigon Zoo has two entrance gates: the main gate is at the junction of Nguyen Binh Khiem and Le Duan. The secondary gate is on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai.
History of Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens
Commissioned by Admiral Pierre de la Grandière in 1864, Saigon Zoo is over 150 years old and ranking No. 8 on the list of the oldest zoos in the world. By the end of 1865, the zoo occupied 20 hectares of land to the northeast of the Thi Nghe Channel. In 1869, it officially opened its gates to the public.
Over the years, the famous landmark has undergone many changes. To connect the various sections of the zoo, a bridge across the Thi Nghe Channel was built in 1927. The stone jetty and electric wires were added as an improvement to the zoo in 1985, and since 1989 the facilities have been updated frequently to make the cages more suitable for their inhabitants. In 1990, the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden was recognized as a member of the Southeast Asian Zoological Association. Over the years, the zoo received attention and support from foreign countries. The director proposed a long-term plan in 1993, which came to a close in 2003. The purpose of this plan was to improve housing, management and animal care. After years of construction work, Saigon Zoo is the largest zoo of Vietnam.
Misson of education and conservation
Saigon Zoo is currently the only zoo in the world that has successfully bred crested argus pheasants in captivity, thus fulfilling it’s main purpose to protect endangered animal and plant species, as well as educating the public. Additionally, the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens introduced a plan to educate the public about protecting animals and plants in 1999.
People from all over the world visit the zoo to study fauna and flora. Additionally, each year roughly 3,200 students visit the zoo, listen to lectures and watch a 30-minute movie about the conservation of plants and wild animals.
Biodiversity and rarities
Currently, 590 animals out of 125 species, as well as 1,830 plants of 260 species call the Saigon Zoo their home. Among the latter ones, there are 20 different species of orchids, 32 different cacti and 34 species of bonsai. The Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden is divided in an animal conservation area, a plant conservation area, the orchid garden and a small amusement park. Some of the many rare and valuable plants home to the botanical gardens are not native to Vietnam, but have been imported from Africa and South America. The zoological garden houses a broad variety of mammals, reptiles and birds. Besides the native species, there are many exotic kinds of animals that are seen in Vietnam for the first time, such as the pygmy hippopotamus, jaguar, ostrich and American flamingo. There are also lakes containing a great variety of lotuses.
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