I was on a working trip to Taiwan a week back and had a few hours off to visit the Taipei Zoo (the national zoo of Taiwan). Although located at the far end of Taipei city, the zoo is easy to get to by the city's efficient metro system which literally sends you to the zoo's doorstep. The admission is a steal at only US$2! For that price you get the mandatory megafauna plus pandas, koalas, pangolins and more, definitely well worth the money. The zoo is set against a backdrop of high hills and is very lushly landscaped. Taiwan's climate is sub-tropical which supports verdant greenery. It is a large zoo at 90 hectares, and I could not cover it all in the 3.5 hours i had despite walking at lightning speed. The exhibits are somewhat spaced apart which means lots of walking. The zoo is divided into several large zones along traditional geographic, climatic and taxonomic themes. The animal exhibits are mostly well landscaped and decently sized, well above the average (dismal) Asian zoo standard. The following is a breakdown of each zone: "High-maintenance crowd pleasers" My unofficial title for the Koala and Giant Panda displays which are located near the entrance. Both comprise indoor and outdoor habitats, with the outdoor habitats being wonderfully lush. The outdoor panda exhibit, set against a planted slope, certainly ranks highly in my books. Asian Tropical Rainforest A nice winding trail through a rainforest grove featuring SE Asian species including tigers, elephants, Malayan tapirs, gibbons, orang utans, macaques, sun bears and tomistoma. The exhibits are mostly the open, moated type. Though not particularly large, the animal enclosures are all well designed with plenty of natural 'furniture'. Desert and Outback The Desert area features addax, Bactrian camels and dromedaries in standard paddocks. I did not make it to the Outback displays, but it supposedly has the kangaroo and emu combo. African Animals Open paddocks for giraffes, zebras, eland, gemsbok and white rhino against a stunning backdrop of hills. The hippo display is very weird - pygmy hippos live on an 'island' surrounded by a deep moat/trench that is the enclosure for Nile hippos. The primate exhibits are well done, with gorillas, chimps, olive baboons, mandrills, patas monkeys and a lemur walk-thru that was closed for maintenance on my visit. The only bad exhibit is a small, uninspired, walled-in enclosure for lions. Temperate Zone Animals King and African penguins are housed separately in indoor enclosures. Bison, brown bears, moon bears, grey wolves, European otters and beavers live in moated exhibits. Harp-wire fronted cages house pumas, lynx and raccoons. Formosan Animals Probably of great interest to foreigners, with rare species not common in zoos. Outdoor paddocks house sika deer, serow, moon bears and Formosan macaques. Harp-wire fronted cages house civets, clouded leopards (i don't think its Formosan), leopard cats and crab-eating mongoose. An indoor 'cave' has glass-fronted enclosures for species which the zoo is involved in conserving - ferret badger, Formosan pangolin, giant flying squirrel, mikado pheasant. Nocturnal House It suffers from the same problem as many nocturnal houses - small enclosures. The collection is a mash of owls, civets, prosimians, owl monkeys, small rodents and 2 species of giant flying squirrels (red and white-faced). There was also an odd aquarium section with awfully tiny tanks for Asian arrowana and a sturgeon (no species indicated). Insectarium and Bird World I didn't have time to visit these 2 areas unfortunately. The insectarium looked impressive, with outdoor greenhouses and a supposed 10 hectare, natural valley which is home to native butterlfies. Overall, the Taipei Zoo is a no-frills type of place. There are no shows, no flashy theming or standout exhibits. But the animals looked healthy and the enclosures are well designed and maintained. I'd say the Taipei Zoo is definitely worth a visit. I'll be slowly posting photos of the zoo (lots to filter through), so keep a lookout of the Taipei Zoo gallery.