I'd read some very different opinions on the Saigon Zoo, from horrendous to good. It turned out to be a bit of both. The zoo is set in a botanic garden so it is very pleasant to walk around. There were some good enclosures which would look at home in a western zoo but there were also a lot of terrible cages, the worst of the lot being a chimp in a glass box which almost made me walk out of the zoo on the spot. The Small Mammals were a mix of good and bad; the large Carnivores were mostly bad; the primates were mostly okay apart for the apes which were terrible; the hooved stock were the best off of all the mammals. Birds and reptiles were mostly good. I was staying at Pham Ngu Lao, as most of the tourists do. It's only a couple of kilometres from the zoo and there are several different bus routes which run directly past the zoo gates for 6000 Dong (about US$0.25). The zoo itself only costs 50,000 Dong (US$2.20 - in contrast to the Vinpearl Safari on Phu Quoc Island which has an entry fee of 500,000 Dong!). There are several entry gates to the zoo; I came in through gate number three which is next to the Reptile House. The Reptile House is less a "house" than a covered semi-circular walk between large glass-fronted enclosures. There is little variety in species, the bulk of the tanks housing Burmese pythons, common iguanas, water monitors and clouded monitors. Very many individuals of each of these species. The few others were Thai water dragons, a couple of small Siamese crocodiles, some reticulated pythons, and some freshwater turtles. One tank rather appallingly held two sea turtles in a shallow pool. Except for that latter instance, there was nothing wrong with any of the tanks; they were large and all had pools and branches and planted areas. In the centre of the "house" (outside) was a large-ish enclosure for small-clawed otters, the island in the middle of which was covered in concrete reptiles. Reptiles elsewhere in the zoo were restricted to the Crocodile Garden where there is a raised walkway between pools - almost all Siamese crocodiles apart for one estuarine crocodile and an empty pool labelled for Cuban crocodile. The zoo is quite spread out through the gardens and there are a few paths going here and there which take you to amusement rides, orchid houses, staff-only areas. I just took every path I found to be sure of seeing every enclosure. There is a general clustering of "types", so carnivores mostly together, birds mostly together, ungulates mostly together, but it isn't very strict and there are bits and pieces everywhere. Most of the cages are now glass-fronted - in the gallery there are photos by Maguari from 2012 which show the lions and tigers behind bars; these cages are all glass (or perspex) now. It makes photography well-nigh impossible with the reflections (and the stand-off barrier not allowing the lens to be placed against the glass) but it does give them a less "cage" look to the general public. It was really noticeable for me at the tiger cages, where one empty cage on the end had been left with bars and a sign saying this was a relic of the old cages - but all the tiger cages attached to this were exactly the same apart for the bars having been replaced with glass. There was only one Big Cat cage which was of a proper size in my opinion, and it housed a white tiger (another white tiger was in a smaller, but okay-sized, cage). The first set of Small Mammal cages I came to, near the Reptile House, was pretty good. They weren't huge but they weren't tiny either. They were glass-fronted and concrete-floored, but with planted areas and a raised straw-filled platform at the back. The species here have changed a bit since other peoples' visits, so no fishing cats or large Indian civets or yellow-throated martens. Instead lots of leopard cats (at least ten of them), some common and masked palm civets, small Indian civet (which I didn't see), and Asian brush-tailed porcupines (in the poorest cage, just all concrete). A similar set-up next door was for larger cats and was not good because every cage was simply too small - two were for individual leopards, two others were combined for clouded leopards (which I didn't see but one half of the glass was covered with a tarpaulin and there was a sign in Vietnamese and English saying they were breeding), one was for a solitary Asian golden cat (I didn't see any others at the zoo), and one for a leopard cat. In some cages were little signs pointing up (to where the leopard cat obviously spent most of its time) or down behind the plants (to where the golden cat was sitting). On the other side of the zoo were just awful cages for more Small Mammals - too small, all concrete, but at least with branches and logs for furniture. They reminded me of the horrible cages at a little zoo in New Zealand when I was growing up, which had cages built in the 1960s. There were a lot of small-clawed and smooth-coated otters here - numerous cages of each, not all of which had water - as well as a pair of what looked like Arctic foxes (?) almost passed-out in the heat (33 degrees today), and at least two Owston's palm civets (unlabelled and almost invisible inside a log at the back of a mostly-bare concrete cage - I had to use my binoculars to see what they were!). This row of cages then turned into a row of aviaries, which were generally okay, and some cages for doucs - one held red-shanked doucs and three held black-shanked doucs. Directly after were two small pens for spotted hyaena (with pups) and golden jackal. More Small Mammals were scattered about the zoo in stand-alone vertical bird cages, for want of a better description. Imagine a larger version of the home parrot cage. This sort of cage is unsuitable for pretty much any animal you could think of, but you see them all over Asia, even in the zoos which are otherwise very good. Here a few were empty, and I'd like to think they are phasing these monstrosities out, but others still held, for example, a small Asian mongoose running repeatedly in circles, a pair of Con Dao giant squirrels, and (in a somewhat larger, more Victorian-looking, example), a Burmese ferret-badger asleep inside a log. For large Carnivores, the lions were in very small cages, the tigers were in almost-as-small cages, one white tiger had a relatively huge enclosure. There was a nice island for Asiatic black bears with grass, climbing equipment, and a waterfall and pool. In the concrete moat around it luckless crested porcupines wandered looking for somewhere dark to sleep. Behind the bear island was a tiny circular pit-style enclosure for sun bears. In contrast to the hit-and-miss of the other mammals the hooved stock were all in enclosures which were at worst adequate but mostly pretty good. There were two separate giraffe enclosures, one shared with zebra and ostrich, which were no smaller than seen in many western zoos. Gemsbok, greater kudu, and a pair of white rhino were in individual yards of a good size. Most of the ungulates were in a pair of large enclosures viewed from a raised walkway. The smaller part housed blue wildebeest and guineafowl, and the much-larger part housed a mixed collection of mainly-Asian species - Burmese Eld's deer, sika, sambar, common muntjac, hog deer, and a couple of wildebeest. There weren't many primates in total at the zoo, and no macaques at all that I saw which was surprising. Ring-tailed lemurs, squirrel monkeys and a De Brazza's monkey had average-sized glass-fronted enclosures with brightly-painted walls and play-equipment, like a kindergarten version of monkey cages. The cages looked quite garish but they weren't too bad otherwise. The douc cages mentioned earlier were (except for one smaller one) reasonably tall. The Annamese silvered langurs (labelled under the old lumped name of T. cristatus) were in a huge old cage from last century or earlier, shared with peacocks and ring-necked pheasants; but on the end were two awful vertical cages for pileated and buff-cheeked gibbons. In another part of the zoo was a very good treed island for a pair of buff-cheeked gibbons, which was quite a contrast. As always (seemingly), the very worst cages at the zoo were reserved for the great apes. There appeared to be only two individuals at the zoo, a male orangutan and a chimpanzee. The orangutan was on an island which probably looked great to visitors, but it was really very small with just a couple of platforms for climbing on. The trees on the island were hot-wired. The orangutan was slumped on the ground on his stomach, against the wall, looking like he wanted to die. (I don't tend to anthropomorphicise animals, but with great apes you can relate to their behaviour). The chimp was much much worse. I don't know what the situation was when Maguari, devilfish, FunkyGibbon, et al visited in the last few years, but the chimp was (almost literally) just kept in a glass box. I think it might be the case that this was a very small barred cage and, like the lions and tigers, they have simply replaced the bars with glass. There was no other part to the enclosure, just a glass box with a barred roof from which hung a couple of tyres, and a concrete house at one end. Just horrible. I don't really know how to rate the Saigon Zoo. I don't know if I'd even recommend people to visit it. There are good parts, but they are quite out-weighed by the great apes and some other examples like the sun bears and Big Cats. It seems like the zoo is trying to bring the standards of the zoo up, by replacing bars with glass for example, and placing planted areas within some of the cages for the security of the animals. And there are very good enclosures there too, like the gibbon island. But I wouldn't count it amongst the better zoos in Asia - although by the same token it is certainly not amongst the worst.