An an­i­mal park in Yun­nan starts spe­cial tour

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By HU YONGQI in Kun­ming huy­ongqi@chi­nadaily.com.cn Xu Yuan and Guo An­fei con­trib­uted to this story.

The Yun­nan Wild An­i­mal Park in the provin­cial cap­i­tal of Kun­ming is cur­rently of­fer­ing night tours for vis­i­tors, the first time any wildlife reser­va­tion in China has of­fered such an ex­pe­ri­ence.

On Aug 9, the park in­tro­duced the night ride, which takes vis­i­tors in a car through a large for­est in the north­east­ern area of the reser­va­tion that is in­hab­ited by at least 40 kinds of an­i­mals, in­clud­ing pea­cocks, gib­bons, ba­boons and ze­bras.

Park of­fi­cials said it’s a unique chance to see how an­i­mals be­have at night. It charges 100 yuan ($16.35) per per­son and sug­gests vis­i­tors book their tick­ets a day ahead by tele­phone or In­ter­net. The tour, which can ac­com­mo­date 100 vis­i­tors each night, be­gins at 7 pm and lasts un­til midnight.

On one par­tic­u­lar ride re­cently, most of the an­i­mals were rest­ing as night fell. A guide was ex­plain­ing where the an­i­mals could be found.

Not far from the en­trance to the for­est were some gib­bons. Most had a pen­chant for rob­bing their night guests of food. Lele was the most ag­gres­sive of them and headed straight for any tempt­ing food.

The gib­bon, whose fore­head wrin­kles made many peo­ple laugh, was a very en­ter­tain­ing ape, at one point show­ing his bot­tom and shak­ing his body at a vis­i­tor who teased him with ba­nanas.

As the road led into the for­est, a few ze­bras were on a slow but el­e­gant walk. The park al­lows vis­i­tors to feed the ze­bras, but on this night, the male ze­bras were in a fight for mat­ing rights as sev­eral fe­males watched nearby. One of the male ze­bras hit the neck of its op­po­nent and bit it while kick­ing it with a front hoof. The tour car passed by be­fore a vic­tor was de­ter­mined.

As the car drove on, a group of os­triches were scared off and ran into the ad­ja­cent mead­ows. Very of­ten, vis­i­tors might en­counter os­triches that are cam­ou­flaged in the brush where they sleep.

Flash­lights are the best tool to find the hid­den an­i­mals, but cam­era flashes are not al­lowed dur­ing the tour for fear the flashes might hurt the an­i­mals’ eye­sight. Sur­pris­ingly, some an­i­mals were ex­tremely calm when they saw the flash­lights.

One part of the tour’s rou­tine is to ask a ran­dom vis­i­tor to hold up a ba­nana and to keep it up as long as pos­si­ble. Within sec­onds, the tree branches were swing­ing as if a strong wind blew through. Soon some pygmy slow lorises, the small­est slow lorises in Yun­nan that are also noc­tur­nal, were go­ing af­ter their fa­vorite fruit.

The guide re­minded vis­i­tors to im­me­di­ately let go of their ba­nanas if they come into con­tact with a slow loris or they could have their fin­gers scratched in the en­counter.

The pea­cocks, on the other hand, were in­ac­tive, sleep­ing in the tree branches as they did dur­ing the day. Driv­ing un­der one of the pea­cocks only aroused it enough to open its eyes for a few sec­onds be­fore fall­ing back asleep. Dur­ing the night, each of the pea­cocks sleeps on its own branch and never in­vades the space of oth­ers.

Liu Li, a 33-year-old mother who takes her son to the park ev­ery week­end, was ex­tremely ex­cited to go on the tour. She or­dered five tick­ets for her fam­ily for the com­ing week­end.

“The night tour will show an­other part of the an­i­mals’ life and my son will absolutely love it,” she said.

LIN YIGUANG / XIN­HUA

Tourists feed a ze­bra dur­ing a night tour on Aug 9 at the Yun­nan Wild An­i­mal Park, in Kun­ming, Yun­nan prov­ince. The wildlife reser­va­tion is the first in China to of­fer the ex­pe­ri­ence of watch­ing how an­i­mals be­have at night.

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