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September 20, 2021, 8:28 pm

Where wildlife is honored

(11:46:02 AM 08/11/2014)
( - It is a normal morning in the crowded Saigon. Tai has begun doing his daily job.

Where wildlife is honored
A white rhinoceros at the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens

Apart from outfit, his appearance seems quite different from other’s. He does not look stressful like those who are elbowing their way through the traffic jam out there on the street to reach their offices, which are waiting for them with papers, computers and bosses.

It is because Tai is working amidst the nature: he is standing on a grass field, in the middle of a huge garden, and feeding grass to some giraffes at the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden, located at 2B Nguyen Binh Khiem Street in District 1.

Tai says what he does is very simple and has nothing special to tell. But from another angle that Tai may or may not think about, he and his colleagues are contributing a major part to the wildlife conservation not only in Vietnam but in the world.

For many people, the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Garden, or Saigon Zoo in short, is simply a place for kids to watch real animals and for adults to enjoy the natural beauty right in the heart of the busy city. However, its mandate is not simply limited to entertaining the human beings. It is to preserve and continue the reproduction of rare and endangered animals.

The story of Saigon Zoo started in 1864 when Admiral Pierre de la Grandière, commander of French forces in Cochinchina, commissioned the building of a zoo in Saigon and assigned Louis Adolphe Germain, a French veterinarian, as director of the project, which was initially developed on an area of 12 hectares. Through many ups and downs, the zoo now belongs to Saigon Zoo And Botanical Garden Limited Company and is home to more than 120 species of animals and around 260 species of plants and trees.

Many animals, birds and reptiles raised in the zoo are rare or endangered not only in Vietnam but in the world and have been put in Vietnam’s Red Data Book and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. The Saigon Zoo for years has protected those animals from being extinct and helped them reproduce to maintain their numbers.

Taking a tour around the place, visitors can see some of those valuable and rare animals, such as Indochinese tigers, which are categorized as Critially Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Early this year, the female Indochinese tiger at the zoo gave birth to five tigers, a success which was far beyond expectation of the staff here.

Previously in 2009, the zoo imported a pair of white tiger from Canada. White tiger is also a critically endangered animal as qualified by IUCN.

Among its successes in multiplication is the breeding of the Asian golden cat, a medium sized cat of Southeast Asia which is classified as Vulnerable by IUCN and is listed in Vietnam Red Data Book. In the 2002-2012 period, three Asian golden cats were born and raised at the zoo, making it stand in the top ten zoos that lead the breeding of such cats in the world. Not only that, at the conference on situ and translocation conservation of Asian golden cats  held in Thailand in 2005, the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens was chosen as the region’s official studbook keeper of the cat for contributing to the collection of this rare animal and conducting significant scientific research on it.

The protection and breeding of the endangered bird named Pheinardia ocellata, which is now on the verge of extinction, is also one achievement of the Saigon zoo and gardens. Other endangered species which are raised and have given birth in recent years here include orang-utan, white rhinoceros, hippo, silver leaf monkey, yellow-cheeked gibbon, and pangolin among others.

Apart from animals, Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens has done a great job to conserve valuable and rare perennial trees. Most of them are tropical forest trees, which are over 100 years old with average trunk diameters of 1.4 meters and heights of 20 meters.

One valuable tree grown here is Burma padauk. As the wood from the tree is high quality, beautiful and durable, many Burma padauk trees in nature have been cut down and the Vietnam’s Data Book has listed the tree as endangered. The oldest Burma padauk at the Saigon zoo and garden is marked 1310 and said to be over 200 years old. Another impressive tree at the place is the Albizia odoratissima Benth which is numbered 1038. Its diameter is 1.46 meters while its height is more than 25 meters.

Other perennial trees grown here include Dipterocarpus alatus, Hopea odorata, Tetrameles nudiflora which are around 20-25 meters high.

For most visitors to the Saigon Zoo, the place is where they can take a walk, watch the animals, enjoy the fresh air and relax.

But above all those entertainment purposes, the place is to help bring us back to the Mother of Nature so that we can see the natural beauty and the creatures which have come to live with us on this Earth, and are reminders for us to live in harmony with the nature instead of destroying and forgeting it for our own short-term benefits.

“I don’t feel ashamed when wearing dirty clothes and work with these animals in front of many people. I love them and my job as well. I hope that young people and the kids who came to visit this place will be aware of protecting animals and trees,” Tai says with a bright smile.

Source: SGT/VNN

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