The Taipei Zoo (Chinese: 臺北市立動物園; pinyin: Táiběi Shìlì Dòngwùyuán), sometimes referred to as the "Muzha Zoo" (木柵動物園), is a public zoological garden in Wenshan District, Taipei, Taiwan. It is the most famous zoological garden in Taiwan and a leader in conservation, research and education, and recreation. It is also the largest zoo in Asia.
Taipei Zoo was founded in 1914, when Taiwan was under Japanese sovereignty, in Yuanshan Mountain (Maruyama) on the northern suburb of Taipei City. It was originally a private zoological garden owned by a Japanese citizen, Mr. Oe. The Japanese government in Taiwan bought the property the following year and opened it as a public park. After World War II, the Republic of China (ROC) retreated to Taiwan and the ownership of the park was passed to the Taipei city government of ROC. An Asian elephant named Lin Wang that served with the Chinese Expeditionary Force during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) and later relocated to Taiwan with the Kuomintang forces was moved to the zoo, and lived out most of his life and was the most popular animal at the zoo, and the most famous animal in Taiwan. Many adults and children alike affectionately called the bull elephant "Grandpa Lin Wang." Due to a need for expansion and for better conditions for the animals, the zoo was moved to its current site in Muzha on the southeastern suburb of Taipei City in 1986. It is, therefore, sometimes referred to as the "Muzha Zoo" (木柵動物園) to be distinguished from the former "Yuan-shan Zoo". The current site encloses 165 hectares, including 90 hectares open to the public.
The Taipei Zoo displays animals from Taiwan, Australia, Africa, the Asian tropical rainforest, the desert, and the temperate zones. The zoo also displays domestic animals in its Children's Zoo, as well as over 12000 birds of over 130 species in an aviary. Other exhibitions in the zoo include an insectarium, amphibian and reptile house, penguin habitat, koala habitat, nocturnal animals display, and a panda exhibition.
In 2008, the zoo received two pandas from the People's Republic of China (PRC), named Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan (meaning "reunion"), as a gesture of unity. The gift of the endangered pandas had been rejected by President Chen Shui-bian in 2005 who viewed it as a propaganda tool against Taiwan's independence, but the incumbent President Ma Ying-jeou, of the Kuomintang, had forged stronger economic and diplomatic relations with the PRC under his presidency, and was willing to accept them. The offering of pandas as a gift from the PRC is often known as "panda diplomacy", and the zoo expected to draw around 30,000 visitors a day as a result of their arrival. The move was criticized by supporters of Taiwan's independence and the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, who said that "Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan means a union, which perfectly matches Beijing's goal of bringing Taiwan into its fold."
The offspring of Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan, Yuan Zai, was born on July 6, 2013. She is the first panda cub to be born in Taiwan. Yuan Zai's public debut was on January 6, 2014.
In this part of the zoo, visitors can take a look at animals which are native to Taiwan, such as wild boar, crab-eating mongooses, clouded leopards, Formosan sika deer, European otters, Reeves's muntjac, Formosan rock macaques, Formosan pangolins, Formosan serow and Formosan black bears.
Fern Garden is a part of the zoo where visitors can take a look at ferns.
In this area, visitors can see various species of insect.
In this area, visitors can see animals which are usually held at farms around the world but also some other species. Animals housed here include muscovy ducks, cattle, Asian water buffaloes, pigs, ponies, goats, guinea pigs, rabbits, donkeys, llamas, alpacas, rose-ringed parakeets and common squirrel monkeys.
In this building, visitors can see koalas.
This part of the zoo is the home to animals which are native to the tropical rainforests of Asia. Animals which are on display here include false gharials, great hornbills, southern pig-tailed macaques, siamang, orangutans, Malayan tapirs, leopards, sun bears, Asian elephants and Bengal tigers.
The animals in this area live in desert habitats. Here, visitors can see addax, Bactrian camels and dromedary camels.
This part of the zoo shows the visitors animals which are native to Australia, like eastern grey kangaroos, emus, southern cassowaries and red-necked wallabies.
In this area, visitors can see animals which are native to Africa. Animals exhibited here include zebras, elands, hippos, African lions, white rhinoceroses, giraffes, patas monkeys, chimpanzees, barbary sheep, olive baboons, lemurs, western lowland gorillas, bongo, impalas, ostriches, African elephants, pygmy hippos, and spotted hyenas.
Bird World is the most western part of the zoo and displays birds such as ducks, geese, swans, flamingos, pelicans, ibises, hawks, eagles, hornbills, starlings, pigeons, doves, toucans, babblers, pheasants, cockatoos, parrots and cranes. The main aviary has been closed for renovation since the winter of 2010.
This building is the home to the most of the zoo's collection of amphibians and reptiles. Here, visitors can take a look at various species of snakes, lizards, tortoises and frogs.
This part of the zoo houses animals which usually live in the temperate zone of the world. Animals housed in this area include Przewalski's wild horses, American beavers, American bison, raccoons, sika, bobcats, woodchuck, European otters, Asiatic black bears, red pandas, brown bears, grey wolves, pumas, and Eurasian lynxes.
This is a building which houses an auditorium, the zoo library, special exhibitions and dinosaurs.
In this building visitors can take a look at the penguins at the zoo. Taipei Zoo has two different species of penguins on display: king penguins and African penguins.
At the entrance square, there are enclosures with lar gibbons and flamingos.
The zoo is accessible from Taipei Zoo Station of the Taipei Metro.