Join our zoo community

Yadanabon Zoo The Zoos of Burma 4: Yadanabon Zoo (Mandalay), 5 January 2014

Discussion in 'Myanmar' started by Chlidonias, 24 Apr 2014.

  1. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    13 Jun 2007
    Posts:
    27,747
    Location:
    New Zealand
    The Yadanabon Zoo in Mandalay is a fairly new zoo, opened in 1989 after a hasty 41 day construction period (!). The government obviously wanted a zoo here pretty badly: the construction committee was formed on 9 January 1989, construction started on 18 February and finished on 31 March, and the zoo opened to the public just a week later on 8 April. Sadly, while there are a couple of bright spots (a huge waterbird aviary for example), most of the zoo is built in the same early-twentieth-century manner as the Yangon Zoo, which probably isn't too surprising since that was probably the only zoo they had for reference. So the bears and tigers are in little concrete cells, and the monkeys are in similar small cages. The hooved stock gets by alright in yards that aren't too small. The aviaries are mostly alright. Really it is just like a smaller version of Yangon Zoo (but it still took me over three hours to get around it all). There are of course very few exotics here (two zebras, three hippos, two Arabian camels, two cassowaries, lots of rabbits and guinea pigs, and some black swans, white peafowl and Barbary doves I think about covers it) so most of the animals are native Burmese species. As with the other zoos there are little stalls dotted around strategic points selling fruits and vegetables to feed to the animals.

    The zoo has a bit of a tangle of paths and tracks winding between enclosures but it is not as bad as at Yangon Zoo so you can get round everything without having to back-track more than a couple of times. The entry fee for foreigners is 2000 kyat (about NZ$3); local adults are 1000, local children 500, and monks and nuns 200 (there actually were a lot of monks at the zoo!). I'm not sure of the price for a foreign child monk.....

    The first thing you see on entering is an artificial waterfall in a fancy garden. All around you are trees and flowers. This is going to be good, I thought, a fairly newly-built zoo, nice setting: well, not really. I headed to my right first, because that was the most direct route to the carnivores and I was interested in seeing what species of civets and Small Cats they might have. There were small-clawed otters in a round concrete enclosure (I didn't actually see the otters themselves right then but on my way out I stopped by and they were being fed on fish – fish is better than white bread right?). The big waterbird aviary is here as well. The centre of the aviary has a treed island and there were many wading birds perched up high. Species seen in here were ruddy shelducks, spot-billed ducks, garganeys, Sunda teal, pintails, Chinese geese, black swan, little egrets, grey herons, black-crowned night herons, painted storks, black storks, greater adjutants, glossy ibis, common cranes and little cormorants. On my way out of the zoo later I saw a spot-billed pelican flying around in the aviary, which I hadn't even seen earlier (and which should tell you that the aviary is pretty large!), so there may have been some species I missed seeing. This was easily the best enclosure in the zoo. Next to the waterbird aviary were two smaller aviaries, one for Himalayan griffon vultures and the other for rufous-necked hornbills. These weren't bad aviaries, although of course the vultures didn't have room to do anything other than perch and hop around.

    After the waterbird aviary things got very bad very quickly because the tigers and bears were next, and if there's one thing you know about Asian zoos it is that tigers and bears do not come off well with caging! The tiger cages were designed like a bastardisation of Yangon Zoo's Carnivora House but without the excuse for being built a hundred years ago. There wasn't the ornate house itself of course, just a standard concrete one, but it had four or five small concrete barred cages on one side and a couple of rounded open-topped cages on the other, these latter being concrete-walled and viewed from the top. Just like Yangon, too, there were too many tigers for the number of cages. There would be one tiger in a main cage, and two or three pacing inside little barred cells at the back of the cage. One tiger took a great deal of interest in me for some reason and kept returning to the front where I was standing; either it wasn't sure what I was doing or was wondering if I tasted different to Burmese people. Past the tigers was a big square mesh cage with a young clouded leopard in it. This was a pretty bare cage, with a clump of bamboo growing in the middle, a few big branches and a box up high for the cat to sit in (as well as having proper dens out the back). This leopard was very friendly and kept coming over to me and walking along the wire. It's been a while since I saw an active clouded leopard and I had forgotten how beautiful they are. I think this one was probably hand-raised.

    The bears were next. Just really horrible. I don't even want to go into describing that cage, three young Asiatic black bears on one side, three sun bears on the other. A little further along was a larger cage, also all concrete, with five adult black bears, all but one asleep because they had nothing else to do. I passed by the crocodiles (sometimes I wonder if crocodiles care, so long as they have a pool and a bit of land and enough food, or do they desire stimulation and novelty and the ability to wander?) and made my way to where the small mammals were kept.

    These cages were also pretty depressing, most of them being wheel-spoke cages – a circular structure divided into triangles like the spokes of a wheel (or like cheese wedges, but calling them “cheese-wedge cages” just sounds weird). There were two wheel-spoke cages, each with four cages, and then a row of three standard square cages. The first of the wheel-spoke cages housed Asian crested porcupines (Hystrix brachyura) and a whole lot of really scabby-looking rabbits – every single one of them seemed to have wounds and scabs and sores. There were also lots of rabbits elsewhere in the zoo and they were all in perfect condition so I'm not sure what the story was with these particular ones. Maybe it was being used as a rabbit hospital. Anyway, the next lot of cages was more interesting. The first cage front I saw had a sign for what Burmese zoos all call “Indian ferret-badgers” (maybe they don't like the name “Burmese ferret-badger” any more now that the country is officially called Myanmar?) and while I was trying to get a photo of one of them tucked under the little sleeping ledge at the back, just above the floor, in between two sleeping common palm civets, I realised there was a jungle cat watching me from the next section of the wheel-spoke! The cats at this zoo really were intrigued by me!! It turned out there were two jungle cats in the cage. I'd never actually seen a jungle cat before in real life and they are surprisingly large; I had been thinking they were the size of a domestic cat. Really beautiful animals, pity about their little cage. The other two sections of the cage held common palm civets. I also realised that the ferret-badger cage had another ferret-badger I'd completely missed because it was hanging off the wire up near the roof, totally not where I expected a ferret-badger to be! The last set of cages, the three standard ones, had a couple of masked palm civets in one cage (one being a pale golden morph) and a couple of leopard cats in the second. The third cage had a civet curled up in a ball on the floor inside the shelter with its back to me and the head invisible, but it looked most like a masked palm civet and was the same size as one (they are quite large beasties) so that's what I have it down as. It is always hard visiting zoos and seeing great animals like ferret-badgers and jungle cats but which are housed in poor or even terrible conditions. Some people cope with that by just not going to zoos at all, or by not going to bad zoos, which is a position I completely understand, but for myself I like to know what is going on in the world and to see how things are with my own eyes. Take China, for example, I could have not visited any zoos there because all you hear about with Chinese zoos is what hell-holes they are, but that just isn't true (generally speaking). Some places, though, are too bad for even me to want to see, like Bangkok's Pata Zoo which I have vowed to never see. Anyway, Burmese ferret-badgers and jungle cats seen for TealovingDave. Moving on.

    Just beyond the small mammals is the northern boundary of the zoo and it is along here that the yards for hooved stock are arranged. First is a yard for two Arabian camels and then two quite small pens for common cassowaries (not hooved stock I know, but I have to mention them first) followed by a large enclosure for wild pigs which they have, of course, turned into a large mud wallow. I have seen a few wild pigs over the years in southeast Asia (and now China as well) but I have never seen them as big as the ones in Burma; they must be approaching European wild pigs in size. The deer yards are also fairly large, and contain the usual three species for Burmese zoos (sambar, hog deer and Eld's deer). Then there's a yard for donkeys and some very noisy Chinese geese. All of these are perfectly fine enclosures, although as I said in the Yangon Zoo review it is hard to mess up deer enclosures! I made a bit of a back-track eastwards (but not along one of the paths I'd already been on) to get to the enclosures for southern serow and common muntjacs. Unfortunately no rare Burmese species of muntjacs here! Also in this spot were more donkeys and rabbits (all in good health!) and three breeding enclosures for Burmese brown tortoises (I'll return to them a bit later when I talk about the rest of the reptile collection).

    The gibbon island is nearby, next to a childrens' playground, but with a lot of people on it doing maintenance work there were no gibbons in evidence (they would be hoolock gibbons, which are also elsewhere in the zoo). The island itself is a good size and covered in trees, so infinitely better than what the other primates get here. Nearby were cages for binturongs and more Asiatic black bears (five young ones, interestingly all as high up in their cage as they could go, sitting on the roof of the shelters). These cages were pretty tall and had branches for climbing but otherwise weren't attractive or with any sort of enrichment for the inhabitants.

    I was going to make a detour to see some aviaries for “singing birds” which I had missed near the start but directly ahead there were some cages in which I could see what were plainly some sort of small carnivores running back and forth, so naturally I went there first (the “singing birds” had to wait until the very end of my visit – these were the mynahs, doves and parakeets noted in the species lists which will follow this post). The cages I had been distracted towards are to the left of the zoo entrance when entering, and they turned out to be for golden jackals of which there were quite a number in two small pens (next to rabbits and guinea pigs!). I don't generally keep lists of the zoo animals I see so I don't remember everything, but I'm pretty sure these were my first golden jackals. On the other side of them from the rabbits were a couple of darkened aviaries for slow lorises which while not particularly nice-looking were somewhat better than the cages many zoos in Asia give to lorises.

    If upon entering the zoo I had turned left instead of right, here is where I would have been starting, going past the golden jackals to the common hippo pens which, true to form, were very small indeed. This southwest corner of the zoo was predominantly given over to birds and reptiles, although the zebra pen was tucked awkwardly in here as well. The crocodiles and Burmese brown tortoises have been mentioned earlier (they are in the east and north of the grounds respectively) but otherwise all the reptiles are housed in this corner, and are generally well-housed to boot! In fact I would say they are housed better than in most zoos (in Asia and the west). There are breeding enclosures for various chelonians at the zoo (Burmese star tortoises, Burmese yellow tortoises, Burmese brown tortoises and Burmese roofed turtles) funded by the Turtle Survival Alliance, the British Chelonian Group and the Wildlife Conservation Society. The roofed turtles have not only breeding enclosures but also three large ponds, the biggest of which is more like a small lake in size. The reptile house avoids the common problem of housing too many species in too small tanks, and instead has just four very large (relatively speaking) enclosures for common rat snake, common cobra, Burmese python and reticulated python. I was quite pleased with the reptile house here because I just loathe seeing snakes in tiny boxes.

    The bird aviaries are fairly standard, not too big but not too small, much as you would see in any zoo. They are arranged taxonomically, so pheasants all together, birds of prey and owls all together. There was a row of no less than five aviaries for great hornbills, each with two or three birds inside. A couple of “aviaries” for lots of lesser mouse deer were shared with Oriental pied hornbills. A lot of rabbits and domestic chickens (“red junglefowl”) were also in this area. There was also one largish aviary jammed full of ruddy shelducks (literally dozens of them) which were obviously recently caught because they kept flying up and hitting the netting roof; in with them were (almost certainly also recently caught) spot-billed ducks, garganeys, lesser whistling ducks, a mallard, a northern shoveller, a common shelduck, some purple gallinules, black-winged stilts, coots, black-crowned night herons, a couple of glossy ibis, a grey-headed lapwing and a Eurasian curlew. An unusual number of birds within the aviary were lame in one leg, presumably due to injuries during capture.

    Unfortunately the monkey section came after the birds, really horrible horrible cells for crab-eating, rhesus and northern pig-tailed macaques, and a largish but still nasty cage for hoolock gibbons. Looking at the map I saw an enclosure for “wild boar” which I hadn't visited but it no longer existed when I reached the spot, so I went to see the elephants instead which are used for rides around the zoo and are otherwise chained on a platform. There doesn't appear to be any actual elephant enclosure, but I guess that's no different to any working elephant outside a zoo.

    So that was the zoo done, apart for the “singing birds” which I knew I still had to see on the way out. I had a last look at the map, just to make sure, and suddenly realised that going from the gibbons to the non-existent wild boar enclosure I had completely bypassed the cage marked “langur” on the map. I could even see it from right where I was standing by the elephants! I came “this close” to missing the most exciting animals at the zoo!! Inside the cage I found a pair of what I assumed were dusky langurs with a well-grown baby. There was no sign on the cage at all, but the Yangon Zoo had dusky langurs and I guessed these came from there. After I'd left Mandalay I had a sudden realisation that they may in fact have been Phayre's langurs which are similar in appearance to duskies and much closer in natural range (dusky langurs are only found in the far south of Burma). I had never seen Phayre's langurs before and had no mammal references except the not-very-good field guide for Chinese mammals. It remained a mystery for the moment until I found internet good enough to allow me to post a couple of photos on Zoochat where they were promptly identified as Phayre's langurs. I just wish I had spent more time taking some good photos of them, but at the time I was distracted by a much more interesting langur in the same cage. I hadn't even realised the other langur was there to start with because the male Phayre's langur was extremely stressed at having to defend his wife and child, and spent almost the whole time tearing around the perimeter of his small cage in an attempt to scare off visitors getting too close, while the female and youngster stayed permanently in the very centre of the cage on a branch. The extra langur was huddled quietly up near the top of the cage right against the wire. Occasionally the male Phayre's would pause to give the other langur a telling off for being in the same cage. I really felt sorry for him. This langur I knew immediately was something exciting, I just wasn't quite sure what! He was a beautiful grey all over with a black face, hands and feet. Most striking were the startling bright orange eyes and the ridiculously long and thickened tail. Almost every mammal in a Burmese zoo is native to Burma and because I knew which species of monkeys are native here I made the assumption this had to be a Shortridge's langur. The field guide to the mammals of China didn't really help to confirm this because while it did have a painting of a Shortridge's langur it looked more like a horribly-deformed gremlin than any living animal. I tried googling some photos when I got some internet but there was almost nothing online that helped. After leaving Burma I finally got the animal identified – it was indeed a Shortridge's langur. Very exciting indeed, but also just really sad that it was being kept the way it was. Even worse was that this cage was the only place in any Burmese zoo where I saw bad visitor behaviour. A big group of local teenagers thought it astoundingly funny that the male Phayre's langur was being so defensive and they all started hammering on the wire to make him even angrier. I absolutely went off my nut at them, and because English is widely spoken in Burma they knew exactly what I was saying to them.

    Summary: not an overly large zoo; on the whole very depressing in how the animals are housed – sometimes despicably so but also with a scattering of not-bad enclosures and even a very few good ones; surprisingly there are many more “interesting” animals here than at the other Burmese zoos I visited; worth a visit if you want to be put off zoos for life but otherwise best left unseen.
     
  2. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    13 Jun 2007
    Posts:
    27,747
    Location:
    New Zealand
    SPECIES LIST FOR YADANABON ZOO
    (only what I saw on display):

    The pamphlet for the zoo says 36 species of mammals, 41 of birds and 13 of reptiles. I counted 34 of mammals (including rabbits etc, but not including leopard), 50 of birds (including domestic birds, plus several species that were obviously recently wild-caught [these are noted in the list]), and 9 of reptiles.

    “New” species for me at the zoo (as in ones I hadn't seen in real life before) were jungle cat, golden jackal, Shortridge's langur, Phayre's langur, grey-headed lapwing and Burmese roofed turtle.


    MAMMALS:
    (with numbers I saw for selected species)

    Asian Elephant
    Common Zebra (two)
    Domestic Donkey
    Common Hippo (three)
    Dromedary (I saw two)
    Lesser Mouse Deer (lots)
    Eld's Deer
    Sambar
    Hog Deer
    Common Muntjac
    Southern Serow (I only saw one)
    Wild Pig
    Asian Crested Porcupine
    Domestic Guinea Pig (lots)
    Domestic Rabbit (great multitudes)
    Slow Loris
    Phayre's Langur (one pair with a youngster)
    Shortridge's Langur (just one)
    Rhesus Macaque
    Northern Pig-tailed Macaque
    Crab-eating Macaque
    Hoolock Gibbon
    Tiger (about seven or so)
    Clouded Leopard (one juvenile)
    *[one of the zoo directional signs had a photo of a regular Leopard, taken in the cage which now housed the Clouded Leopard]
    Jungle Cat (two)
    Leopard Cat (two I think)
    Common Palm Civet (at least five or six)
    Masked Palm Civet (three)
    Binturong (at least two)
    Small-clawed Otter (at least three)
    Burmese Ferret-badger (Melogale personata) (three or more)
    Golden Jackal (several – looked like at least eight but probably more unseen at back)
    Asiatic Black Bear (I saw twelve, in three cages)
    Sun Bear (three)


    BIRDS:

    Common (Double-wattled) Cassowary (two)
    Himalayan Griffon Vulture (several)
    Black eagle (one juvenile)
    Crested serpent-eagle (one)
    Brahminy Kite (several)
    Black Kite (several)
    Brown fish owl (four)
    Greater Adjutant (two in the big aviary; one of the zoo directional signs had a photo from the same aviary of a Lesser Adjutant but I didn't see any of those)
    Black Stork (in the big aviary)
    Painted Stork (in the big aviary)
    Grey Heron (in the big aviary)
    Little Egret (in the big aviary)
    Black-crowned Night Heron (in the big aviary; a couple also in with the wild-caught shelducks etc)
    Common Crane (I saw one pair and two juveniles all together in the big aviary)
    Glossy Ibis (some in the big aviary, also a couple in with the wild-caught shelducks)
    Black-winged Stilt (several, presumed recently wild-caught)
    Grey-headed Lapwing (one [with damaged leg], presumed recently wild-caught)
    Eurasian Curlew (one, presumed recently wild-caught)
    Purple Swamphen (two, presumed recently wild-caught)
    Common Coot (two or three, presumed recently wild-caught)
    Asian Little Cormorant (a few in the big aviary)
    Domestic Duck
    Chinese Goose
    Black Swan
    Lesser Whistling Duck (a few, presumed recently wild-caught)
    Ruddy Shelduck (some in the big aviary, many others [dozens] obviously recently wild-caught in another aviary, several with damaged legs)
    Common Shelduck (one, presumed recently wild-caught)
    Mallard (one male, presumed recently wild-caught)
    Spot-billed Duck (some in the big aviary, a few others presumed recently wild-caught in with the shelducks etc)
    Northern Shoveller (one female, presumed recently wild-caught)
    Pintail (two males, presumed recently wild-caught)
    Garganey (all females, some in the big aviary, others presumed recently wild-caught)
    Sunda Teal (I just saw one male, in the big aviary, but there were probably more)
    Spot-billed Pelican (I just saw one, in the big aviary)
    Green Peafowl
    White Peafowl
    Domestic Hens
    Golden Pheasant
    Silver Pheasant
    Kalij Pheasant
    Grey Peacock-pheasant
    Indian Ringneck
    Alexandrine
    Moustached Parakeet
    Blossom-headed Parakeet
    *[also a sign for Grey-headed Parakeet, the aviary for which held Blossom-headed Parakeets and Indian Ringnecks]
    Domestic Ringneck Dove
    Domestic (fancy) Pigeon
    Great Hornbill (five aviaries, each with two or three birds)
    Oriental Pied Hornbill (I saw maybe ten in various aviaries)
    Rufous-necked Hornbill (I saw two males and one female)
    Hill Mynah


    REPTILES:

    Saltwater Crocodile
    Burmese Brown Tortoise (Manouria emys phayrei)
    Burmese Star Tortoise (Geochelone platynota)
    Yellow (Elongated) Tortoise (Indotestudo elongata)
    Burmese Roofed Turtle (Batagur trivittata)
    Burmese Python
    Reticulated Python
    Common Cobra (Naja naja)
    Common Rat Snake (Ptyas mucosus)
     
    Last edited: 14 Nov 2020
  3. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    16 May 2010
    Posts:
    16,478
    Location:
    Wilds of Northumberland
    *amiable scowling*

    :p

    I'd be scowling at the golden jackal too, were it not for the fact that I recently saw this species at Zoo Magdeburg, as will be discussed in my German trip thread anon.
     
  4. Taisha

    Taisha Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    18 Jul 2012
    Posts:
    210
    Location:
    Berlin, Germany
    Wow! You have really worked hard to give us all these informations. It will take me some time to digest.
    As for the respectful zoo visitors in Burma, I thought the same in Indonesian zoos. Buddhism may be one reason.

    Once I started as an innocent zoo visitor myself, but when you have seen a lot, there are few choices: to stay away for good, or to feel responsible for what you observe.
    Thus hearing about the circumvention of Cites in the new Moscow Zoo or the sad conditions you often came across on your journey, I never stop wondering, with all these animal activists around, there doesn't seem to be a single organisation dedicated to the zoo animals worldwide, who could be addressed and take up cases in need.
     
  5. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    13 Jun 2007
    Posts:
    27,747
    Location:
    New Zealand
    of the "new" species for me at this zoo, I ended up soon after seeing golden jackals and jungle cats at several zoos, Phayre's langur at Dusit Zoo (Bangkok), and grey-headed lapwing in the wild. I'll probably never ever see another Shortridge's langur though.
     
  6. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    13 Jun 2007
    Posts:
    27,747
    Location:
    New Zealand
    the really unfortunate thing with organisations of such a nature, and the individuals within them, is that they are usually fully anti-zoo (and of course there is the opposite, the fully pro-zoo where any circumstance is excused no matter how vile). It would be great if there was a proper organisation striving to better bad zoos without the underlying objective of getting rid of all zoos altogether. There are of course often groups working towards bettering an individual zoo. Really I don't think you need any international body, you need national organisations because every country has its own unique circumstances which need to be worked around and with. However even in countries with (you would think) solid animal welfare laws -- think the USA, the UK, NZ even -- there are often still, rather unbelievably, zoos which just should not be allowed to operate under the conditions they provide their animals.
     
  7. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    16 May 2010
    Posts:
    16,478
    Location:
    Wilds of Northumberland
    Probably; I certainly won't be seeing one anytime soon!
     
  8. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    13 Jun 2007
    Posts:
    27,747
    Location:
    New Zealand
  9. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    13 Jun 2007
    Posts:
    27,747
    Location:
    New Zealand
    I just added a few more photos to the gallery. They were ones which were vertical and I couldn't upload them on the old site without them appearing horizontal.
     
  10. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    10 Dec 2012
    Posts:
    17,606
    Location:
    fijnaart, the netherlands
  11. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    13 Jun 2007
    Posts:
    27,747
    Location:
    New Zealand