Covering 200 acres of land at the foot of the Doi Suthep, the Chiang Mai Zoo is a worthwhile and energizing spot to visit, especially in a city filled with the quiet serenity of temples. Nearly a variety of 400 different species of animals live at the zoo of Chiang Mai, and this includes elephants, chimpanzees, tigers, rhinoceroses and hippopotami. Special attractions such as the walk-through aviary and a fascinating freshwater aquarium can be seen inside the zoo. But what visitors especially look forward to is seeing a glimpse of Chuang Chuang and Lin Hui, two young pandas that were sent by China as goodwill ambassadors in 2003 that remain the stars of the zoo.
The zoo has emphasized the creation of a natural environment feeling with an illusion of being out in the wilderness. Many of the enclosures have ramps and walkovers around them to allow visitors to get up close and personal to their favorite animals such as giraffes and zebras. This allows visitors to line up the perfect camera shot. And for another kind of camera shot, it should be noted that the zoo also provides some excellent views of the city.
Education and conservation of the animals remain the zoo’s top priorities. The animals are extremely well cared-for and lead healthy and happy lifestyles. The animal population in the zoo is very diverse, with a variety of Southeast Asian species that include tigers, the Giant Mae Khong or Mekong Catfish (and they do mean giant!) and the rare Serow. In addition to these rare species, the zoo is also home to creatures from all over the globe such as the South American Alpaca, African giraffes and zebras, Australian Kangaroos and Dingoes, and European Scops Owls. Also drawing in much attention is the Humboldt Penguin Exhibit where these birds can be found, unusually enough for a tropical country like Thailand. This is something you don’t expect to see in a zoo in the Northern Thailand Region.
All the main areas of the zoo are connected by an extremely long road that loops from the entrance to the lake and back. Those who cannot stand walking long distances underneath the scorching heat of the sun will be happy to know that vehicles are allowed inside the zoo. There are also open-air trams available that take occupants to the different areas of the zoo. Drivers on the trams try their best to narrate everything there is to know about the animals but know that their English is not always the best. The Latin names of the animals are written in English but their common names are almost entirely in Thai. You may not have a hard time figuring out that a Panthera Leo is a lion but you might have a bit of trouble distinguishing the Brushtail Possum from the Giant Anteater if your zoology is a touch rusty.
The Chiang Mai Zoo is located along Huay Kaew Road near the main gate of the Chinag Mai University. The zoo is open from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm daily with an admission fee of 30 baht for adults, 10 baht for children and 5 baht for small children under 53 inches tall. Cars also have an admission fee of 30 baht while motorbike admissions cost 10 baht. Finally, an all-day ticket to ride the tram buses costs 20 baht per person. Make sure to include this entertaining zoo in your itinerary and get to experience the adventures of the wild.