Nanjing Hongshan Forest Zoo: Support a protective umbrella for wild animals
China Environment News

  Yang Liu Zhang Jian

  In the first half of this year, an adoption ceremony named "Love for the Nature, Adoption for Love, Protection with Heart" was held in the central square of Nanjing Hongshan Forest Zoo (hereinafter referred to as "Hongshan Zoo") in Jiangsu Province.

  "Pang Pang" is a female red panda with a brown-red body and a curvy tail, and was adopted by the caring enterprise during the event. On the scene of the adoption ceremony, "Pang Pang" successfully completed the "entry procedure". In the meantime, the caring enterprise made a solemn statement that all bamboo of this animal "colleague" in its life has been "contracted" by them.

  "Pang Pang" is one of the lovingly adopted animals in Hongshan Zoo. In the opinion of the zoo director, Shen Zhijun, the loving adoption action has not only narrowed the distance between people and animals, but also relieved the financial difficulties of the zoo. Many people may not know that even under the condition of losing nearly RMB 30 million in the epidemic period last year and facing bankruptcy, this "The First Zoo Canceling the Animal Performances in China" still worked hard to ensure the supply of animal feed and the reconstruction of the venues, and a series of public welfare actions for wildlife protection such as "Assist It to Return to Nature" were also carrying out consistently.

  Some people said, "A city's zoo is a different ecological business card for the city." By virtue of using its unique "Hongshan Plan", Nanjing Hongshan Zoo represents a beautiful picture of "human and nature harmonious coexistence" to the public.

  Build the "Noah's Ark" for Wildlife Gene Preservation

  Nanjing Hongshan Zoo is the first zoo that canceled the animal performances. About this decision, we can start with the zoo's "King of All Animals" - the zoo director Shen Zhijun.

  Initially, during the daily "mountain patrol", Shen Zhijun found out that the "hairy children" in the zoo were unhappy, and the captive life made these animals seem boring, reluctant and helpless. How to make animals happy became the top concern of Shen Zhijun. "Being kind to animals means being kind to life. This is also the simplest concept and the original intention of Hongshan Zoo for running a garden." Shen Zhijun said.

  At the beginning of 2020, due to the epidemic impact, Hongshan Zoo was closed for 51 days with zero income and a loss of nearly RMB 30 million. Someone persuaded the zoo director Shen that it was better to restore the animal performances that were more profitable, which was refused by him. "Animals should also have their own rights, not just for the entertainment of the public."

  Hence, Shen Zhijun personally "seeking the revenge tour" online and delivered a speech under the title of The Pursuit of a Zoo. The speech was massively forwarded by netizens, and the times of play reached 31.949 million. In the end, this "putting all animals first" zoo "fires out of the circle" overnight, and has received more than 17,000 visits per day and many loving adoption actions after the opening of the zoo.

  In addition to insisting on the concept of "Life Equality" between humans and animals, Hongshan Zoo also prefers to free the nature of animals, and build the original living base of the animals in the zoo into an "invincible paradise" showing their nature.

  Shen Zhijun designed a parallel distribution channel for connecting all 30 functional areas of the Asian Primate Region. Animals can follow the channel to other functional areas for a "walking trip"; In the renovation of the elephant house, Shen Zhijun sought a British designer to "personally tailor" two sets of clover pool systems to create a shade and shower place for the elephants, so that they can avoid the scorching sun while having a bath outdoors in every summer day.

  In Hongshan Zoo, you can see this kind of heartwarming and careful design everywhere. In Hongshan Zoo, the outdated traditional "pit style" display method was abandoned, and the "immersion style" display method was adopted. What's more, the wolf house, lemur island, tropical bird house, hornbill house, koala house, meerkat house and other 19 Venues were all reconstructed. The wild environment awakened the original memory of Xiao Hei, the orangutan who had lived in the zoo since it was born, and it started to climb trees and build nests; Even the endangered species cassowary that has rare breeding records internationally "fell in love" here, and has nurtured 32 small lives.

  It is just this series of humanistic care for "animals" that makes Hongshan Zoo be chosen as the "most humane" zoo by the netizens. "It is not the only function of a modern zoo to meet the viewing demands of tourists. It is more like the 'Noah's Ark' to preserve the wild animals' genes. Through constant improvement for welfare and stimulation for wild nature, the species continuation can be realized." Shen Zhijun said in an interview.

  "A nature school built in a zoo"

  "If being given a day to visit the zoo, what would you like to watch?" On the day of International Day for Biological Diversity in this year, a theme carnival event of "Caring for Diversity and Discovering Diverse Cities" was grandly opened at Hongshan Zoo. The "little talents" from all over the country walked into the colorful animal world with the mission cards to recognize the "diversified partners", and together explored the magical mystery of life.

  Unfold the map of Hongshan Zoo and we will see that the forest coverage rate exceeds 85%, and there are nearly 3,000 rare animals from all over the world. "Foster all things on earth in the way of nature", in the opinion of Bai Yali, the Minister of Publicity and Education Department of Hongshan Zoo, "The zoo is not only an entertainment institution, but also an education base, and also is a vivid textbook for children to know about the nature."

  An unprecedented nature school came into being under this concept. At the opening ceremony of "Bird Loving Week" in Nanjing this year, the "Diversified Planet Nature School" at the Hongshan Zoo was opened for the children from all over the world.

  "We generally advocated the science popularization education and placed emphasis on the popularization of knowledge in the previous time. But in the Diversified Planet Nature School, we pay more attention to behavioral education and life education, and hope to help the children to cultivate the awe, love, responsibility and protection for nature in an intimate interaction with nature." Bai Yali introduced.

  Meet an animal unexpectedly, get familiar with an insect, and know a plant... The colorful exploration courses of the Natural Planet School make it a "serious thing" for children to visit the zoo.

  In the "China Felidae Museum" where leopards, lynxes, ocelots and other animals are raised, Hongshan Zoo has reproduced the North China Leopard protection base of NGO "China Felidae League" in He Shun, Shanxi, hoping to guide children to pay close attention to the protection of wild endangered animals; The "If I were an Elephant Breeder" study and academic activity also allows the children to become the "personal stewards" of elephants in order to closely observe the daily life of elephants and join hands to protect the lovely creatures.

  "Experiencing nature is not just about giving a hurried and cursory glance at animals. There are so many other things worth exploring in nature. 'In ecological environment, we should cognize the life; in life, we should protect the ecological environment'——this is also the most important meaning of environmental education." Bai Yali said.

  "We care about every life."

  Flapping - as Chen Yuelong, the staff of Hongshan Zoo's rescue center, opened the cage door cautiously, a "white-tailed sea eagle", a national first-class protected animal known as "the tiger in the birds", returned to the blue sky with GPS on its back.

  In the Hongshan Zoo, there is a gate that says "Tourists Stopped" in an area. This "secret base" is the emergency room for lost, injured, and trapped wild animals in the city. Blood drawing, X-ray filming, operation...Whenever the phone rings, a mission-like rescue will begin.

  "Hongshan Zoo has another biggest function that is in-situ conservation of native species. As a two-level wildlife shelter and rescue center in Jiangsu Province and Nanjing City, Hongshan zoo doctors rescued 925 wild animals and released 209 native wild animals in 2020." Chen Yuelong introduced.

  Since the "Wild Animal Shelter and Rescue Center" was licensed by the former Jiangsu Forestry Bureau in 2010, the rescue and release, the monitoring of activity trajectories and the study of migration patterns for the wild animals have become one of the cooperation projects between Hongshan Zoo and other research institutions. Hongshan Zoo has become a "Sheltered Bay" for homeless animals, and all creatures have returned to nature from here towards newly born.

  Supporting a "protective umbrella" for wild animals and assisting them in returning to nature is just a microcosm of the conservation actions of Hongshan Zoo. In a study activity of watching fireflies at night in 2018, two infrared trigger cameras (hereinafter referred to as "infrared cameras") set in the zoo detected two wild ferret badgers. This triggers the zoo to think: Apart from these animals kept in the garden, as a "survival station" for urban wild animals, how many animals are not kept in the zoo? What kind of biodiversity is there in the city?

  With this thought and by virtue of the funding of the "One Yangtze River, One World" public welfare project jointly established by World Wide Fund for Nature and Huatai Securities, Hongshan Zoo purchased 20 infrared cameras in 2020 to launch the "Xiaohongshan Biodiversity Protection and Public Education" survey action aiming at reinforcing the field protection of rare and endangered species in China.

  Whenever evening closes in, the pitch-black grasses make a swishy sound, and the nocturnal animals such as yellow ferrets, raccoon dogs, and badgers set off... In the last year alone, the infrared camera captured 27 species of birds and 9 species of beasts. Hongshan Zoo also produced nearly 10,000 videos of the Wild Hongshan——A Story Happened in Front of Infrared Cameras series.

  Ass you can see, the design of the primeval dense forest and the simulation of the wild environment enable the Hongshan Zoo to retain an ecological green island for wild animals that shuttle between the city and the jungle.