select - animal magic

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Monkey antics and the acrobatics of seals have always delighted kids at the zoo and, even as adults, few of us are immune to the wonders of close animal encounters. Here are some of the best in the world.

 


New York

Sprawled over a leafy 265 acres by the Bronx River, Bronx Zoo Wildlife Conservation Park has been a major New York attraction since it opened to the public in 1899. The zoo is home to some 650 species of animal, some of them – such as snow leopards, red pandas, and okapi – very rare. Major exhibits include the African Plains (lions, zebras, gazelles), the walk-through Congo Gorilla Forest that can also be viewed from lookouts in the trees, and the Wild Asian Monorail that allows passengers to spot rhino, elephants, and tigers from above. The zoo also showcases smaller creatures, such as butterflies and tropical birds. During the winter, visitors are encouraged to brave the cold with over a hundred animal sculptures in ice, giant illuminated snowflakes, and over 12 km of dazzling tree lighting.


WHY
Fordham Road in the Bronx; take the subway (line 2) to Pelham Parkway station, a short walk from the Bronxdale entrance.


WHERE


HOW TO GET THERE America’s largest urban zoo is superbly arranged by different habitats, and features everything from tiny insects to elephants.
Qatar Airways has daily flights from Doha to New York.

 

 


Singapore

Singapore Zoo is considered one of the world’s best open-air zoos, renowned for replacing cage bars with moats and allowing visitors uninterrupted views of everything from lions to monkeys. In some cases, enormous panes of glass allow zoo-goers the spectacular sight of hippos, penguins, and polar bears swimming underwater. Or a troop of monkeys might casually stroll across your path, just like any other group of pedestrians, as you amble from one exhibit to another. The zoo is also highly innovative. During its daily Jungle Breakfast, visitors eat in the presence of pythons, otters, and orangutans; in fact, the zoo has the world’s largest collection of orangutans. Other performances throughout the day showcase the talents of elephants, seals, monkeys, and even storks. Its latest exhibit, Rainforest Kidzworld, combines the best ideas from petting zoos, water parks, and adventure playgrounds, and entertains with amusing tricks from parrots and dogs. Singapore Zoo is also famed for its highly original Night Safari, featuring nocturnal animals.


WHY
On Mandai Lake Road. Take the MRT to Ang Mo Kio and transfer to bus no. 138.


WHERE
An open-air zoo that all others seek to imitate for its natural setting and lack of bars between animals and humans.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has daily flights from Doha to Singapore.

 


London

One of the world’s biggest and best, London Zoo has always been on the cutting edge: it was the first zoo to have a reptile house, insect house, and public aquarium, and today is involved with breeding programmes for dozens of rare species. For visitors, excellent walk-through enclosures showcase everything from African birds to monkeys and butterflies; even a tropical rainforest environment is recreated.


WHY
North of Regent’s Park; take bus no. 274 or the underground (Northern line) to Camden Town.


WHERE
One of the world’s great zoos is home to some of the rarest species on Earth, and has a fascinating historical heritage.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways flies from Doha to London five times a day.
 

 


Melbourne

Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens opened in 1862, making this the oldest zoo in Australia. Its varied exhibits include a reptile house, butterfly pavilion, elephant village, and an orangutan sanctuary visited via a treetop boardwalk. The collection includes animal oddities usually only seen on the Scrabble board, such as bongos, coatis, quokkas, and agoutis. For many overseas visitors, however, the highlight is the extensive collection of native animals, including kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas, platypus, wombats, and koalas, as well as some more unexpected Aussie residents such as penguins and sea lions. On summer evenings, jazz bands serenade visitors in the zoo’s beautiful gardens, while an unusual late-night Roar and Snore programme allows a tour of nocturnal animals accompanied by a zookeeper, followed by an overnight in tents before awakening to the roaring of lions at dawn.


WHY
Elliott Avenue in Parkville. Take the train to Royal Park station or tram 19 from downtown Elizabeth Street.


WHERE
A better native collection than anywhere else: just the place to see the weird and wonderful creatures that inhabit Australia.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has daily flights from Doha to Melbourne.

 


Beijing

Beijing National Zoological Gardens started life as a private zoo In the grounds of an imperial mansion and first opened to the public in 1910; it boasts Qing Dynasty buildings set among traditional-style gardens. Six million visitors a year enjoy animals that range from elephants and lions to hippos, giraffes, and monkeys, as well as over 100 reptile species. Perhaps most interesting, however, are rare native Chinese animals such as red-crowned cranes, Père David deer, tigers, snow leopards, Tibetan gazelles, and, of course, giant pandas. The zoo was the first anywhere to successfully breed pandas in the 1960s, some of which are famously loaned to overseas zoos. The adjacent aquarium is the largest in China and has sea lion and dolphin shows, as well as a large array of ocean creatures great and small.


WHY
Take the subway (line 4) to Beijing Zoo station, which is also a hub for many bus lines.


WHERE
A prominent giant panda programme makes this zoo a world leader in breeding the rare – and very cute – animal.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways flies from Doha to Beijing four times a week.
 

 


Vienna

Schönbrunn Zoo started life as an imperial menagerie at the summer palace of Schönbrunn in 1752, making it the world’s oldest zoo. But many exhibits are very contemporary, including an unusual aquarium that simulates the Amazon River in flood, and exhibits of animals that thrive in man-made environments. Schönbrunn is most notable for its three giant pandas, among the very few in zoos outside China.


WHY
In the park surrounding Schönbrunn Palace on the outskirts of Vienna. Take the U-bahn to Hietzing or Schönbrunn stations.


WHERE
Baroque-era buildings give a good impression of what the precursor of zoos – private, 18th-century menageries – looked like.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has daily flights from Doha to Vienna.

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