Thursday, May 24, 2012

Shanghai Zoo

So last week,Thursday, actually, was brilliantly clear by Shanghai standards and full of energy I made my way to the Shanghai Zoo.A little apprehensive.I'd read reports that the zoo was more like a prison camp with the animals as inmates.I wanted to judge for myself.I'd also read of the poor conduct of the local visitors.Anyway I wanted to see for myself.The subway trip from Peoples Square involves changing lines at least once.One also has to watch out as the line to the zoo and airport split so you have to watch which train you're on -the one to Hangzhong Rd which is the wrong one or the one to the airport the correct one.The line splits at Longxi Rd.However there are announcements in English and the train station staff seem aware of the possible confusion.In total it took about 45 minutes from Peoples Square to the Shanghai Zoo station.Take exit 4 and you arrive at the entrance of the Zoo.Walk briskly past the hawkers and pay your 40rmb admission for adults.As I didnt have any kids in tow Im not sure what their ticket prices are.   
The first thing I noticed was how green and leafy the place was.Apparently it was the site of an golf course so there are some impressive established trees.There were also swathes and banks of colourful poppies and petunias in big beds and some nice expanses of grass where couples were having picnics and doing what couples around the world do.
There were also large numbers of school groups.Noisy little,enthusiastic,high pitched ,backpacked school kids enjoying their school trip out.
 The second and more disturbing thing I noticed was the complete disregard for the no feeding signs that were plainly visible and in full view of the visitors.Despite these signs and large posters explaining the dangers of feeding animals in English and Chinese I saw many animals being fed chocolates,bread,fruit and vegetables.
I also noted the complete absence of staff patrolling the more popular animals on display.It may have just been the fact I arrived mid morning and the staff may have been on their lunch break.But I reasoned I was there for over 4 hours and apart from the odd gardener,toilet and shop attendants as well as the staff riding on the tourist bus thingy there wasnt a lot of supervision or crowd control.
 The couple above fed this monkey several chocolates wrapped in plastic wrappers.You can see the No Feeding sign on the cage to the left.I just shook my head and moved on as other local visitors clapped at the monkey's acrobatics and begging antcs as it stretched its arms to get the sweets.
 I'd read there was an pet area where different domestic dog breeds were being exhibited in somewhat squalid conditions -but thankfully I think this area has closed down.There were a large number of empty,abandoned cages so I presume thats where they had been housed.
 However just as worrying for me was the state of accomodation for these three wildpigs in the photo above.They didn't seem to have any access to anything that resembled their natural habitat and didn't at least from my untrained,unprofessional eye seem to be particularly well cared for.
 I know that they are only pigs.But if one judges how a society treats its animals then there is a lot to be said and much to be done if these creatures are to be treated and housed in a humane manner.
There were a large number of different birds on display and they seem to fare rather better than other species in terms of space and cage size.They do however face the public feeding problems of the other animals.Here is another blatant example of ignoring the no feeding rules in full view barely a metre away.
Next blog I shall post panda photos(nice alliteration).

Friday, May 04, 2012

50 Moganshan Rd
 In a sprawling compound of former industrial warehouses converted into galleries and workshops you can find Shanghai's artistic community busy at work.Here among the different buildings you can see on display many different forms of art from traditional ceramics and calligraphy to sculpture and huge paintings that fill the cavernous spaces from floor to ceiling.
 I spent the best part of a day poking around.You could see,smell and hear some of the artists being creative and there was a friendly vibe as you walked round and the shop staff explained who the artist was and what the work represented.Not the usual hard sell feeling of being obligated to buy something you get in other places.There were a couple of restaurants within the compound where you could eat, grab a drink and rest your legs.
 As well as the standard paintings there were also installation artists who obviously were using the space to store some of their works including this set of huge Doc Marten boots complete with their own leg bones.
 Different types of pottery and ceramic styles were on display and available for sale.This particular piece was one of a set of four figures depicting different emotions.
If you couldn't afford to pay for the real thing or would have difficulty lugging it home,then some galleries had handy packs of postcards on sale.The set above shows some postcards from Yu Lin's works depicting the Chinese Red Guards.
Getting to 50 Moganshan Road Art Centre is a bit of a hike.Different guide books suggest different routes including taxis and buses.I chose the following route.I got off at Changshou Station Line 7 on the subway and took exit 7 to Changshu Road.Turning right once I exited the subway station,I then walked for about 15 minutes or three big intersections that cross Changshu Road.At this point you should come to a bridge that spans the Suzhou Creek.From here  you should be able to see a large chimney stack on your right.This is where you are headed.Don't head over the bridge but walk down the side till you come under the bridge and a road directly in front of you.On the other side of the road is Suzhou Creek.Turn left at this point and walk towards the chimney-the road should curve as it passes some huge apartment building compounds and you'll shortly come to the warehouses.Look for taxis and tour buses as it is a popular sight seeing spot as well as a large metal hippo outside one of the galleries. All in all a nice place to head to with no entry fee and a pleasant feel about it.