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The Beijing Zoo (pinyin: bei jing dong wu yuan), lies west of Xizhimen and is in the western part of Beijing, China. It was known for a short time after the founding of the People's Republic as Western Suburbs Park (Xijiao Gongyuan). The grounds combine cultivated flower gardens with stretches of natural scenery, including dense groves of trees, stretches of grassland, a small stream, lotus pools and small hills dotted with pavilions and halls.
Beijing Zoo mainly exhibits wild and rare animals of China. The Giant Pandas are one of the most popular exhibits, but other popular animals including the Sichuan golden snub-nosed monkey, Manchurian tigers, white-lipped deer, yaks from Tibet, enormous sea turtles, polar bears from the North Pole, kangaroo from Australia, and zebra from Africa.
The zoo is also a center of zoological research that collects and breeds rare animals from various continents.
Initially named The Ten Thousand Animal Garden, the zoo was built in 1908, making it almost 100 years old. It is located in Xicheng District of Beijing City, beside Beijing Exhibition Hall, facing Beijing Astronomical Observatory. The Zoo was originally an imperial manor during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). Plants were cultivated and animals were raised here during the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911),Prince Foot Kang ann Mansion. After the establishment of the People's Republic of China, it was reconstructed and renamed the West Suburb Park. In 1955, the name was changed to the Beijing Zoo.
The buildings in the zoo cover an area of more than 50,000 square meters, including the monkey hall, the panda hall, the lion and tiger hall, the elephant hall, and many others. Altogether there are more than 30 large halls.
The Zoo exhibits not only the variety of habitats for the animals but also the different rooms, halls, pavilions and luscious trees and plants.
The Beijing Ocean Hall was opened to the public inside the Zoo in 1999. It is the biggest ocean hall in China. Besides enjoying the sight of all the different species of fish, guests are invited to watch the shows performed by the dolphins and the sea lions.
In addition, visitors can explore many old buildings built in the Qing Dynasty inside the Beijing Zoo.
The zoo has developed rapidly and by 1987 covered an area of over 40,000 square meters. Bears, elephants, pandas, lions, tigers, songbirds, hippopotami, rhinoceroses, antelopes and giraffes were brought in the late 1950s, and a gorilla cage, leaf-monkey cage and aquarium house, was opened, containing specimens of over 100 species of reptiles from all over the world, including crocodiles and pythons.
The Beijing Zoo now houses over 7,000 creatures of 600 different species from all over the world.