Day of days! I got a panda!
During the night I went to Beijing Zoo and made a few measurements. Then, I went to the market and bought a panda suit. I put the American in the panda suit and made my way back to the zoo. When nobody was looking, I swapped them. Simple really.
This didn't happen. But what did happen is that I went to Beijing Zoo and saw a few pandas. The Panda House is close to the entrance of the zoo and everybody in front of me went there first. Instead, I wandered around the zoo for an hour or so.
The whole zoo needs a rethink. It was originally called 'Ten Thousand Animal Garden' and it really was. The enclosures are too small and there isn't anything stimulating in the enclosures for the animals to do: the monkey enclosure had a metal pole for the monkeys to climb; the alligator enclosure had 22 alligators in; the turtle's water had not been cleaned in a while and neither had the flamingo enclosure. It was really awful. In with the chimpanzees there was a large board that was used to hit against the perspex enclosure wall to make the chimpanzee do something. The lion that was outside had cartons next to where it lay and the tigers and jaguars inside had little more than a box room to move around in.
The cost to get in was 10 yuan and 5 yuan for the panda house (around £1.50 in total) and I couldn't help but think that if that price increased even a small amount, especially as the zoo's not short of customers even in the winter, the living conditions could be improved ten-fold.
The panda house was not as small as the other enclosures - understandably so with the amount of publicity the pandas receive. They looked mildly happy with their shoots and leaves despite everybody banging on the glass.
All in all, not a great zoo but I was pretty happy to have seen a panda.