Two members of the Houston Zoo team, Tarah Jacobs and Kevin Hodge, are currently in China. Tarah and Kevin are working with Chinese Zoos and blogging about their experience abroad.

This post was written by Kevin Hodge.


After a 2.5 hour flight from Hangzhou we arrived in Chengdu. We were greeted at the airport by Daisy, a Panda keeper from the Chengdu Zoo. As we drove to the zoo she explained that Chengdu is a rapidly growing city of around 10 million people. We noticed that the most popular mode of transportation is a moped, even for families.  We saw a family of four riding on a moped but we felt more comfortable traveling by car.

IMG_3708The Director of the Veterinary and Animal Care, Mr. Yu, was waiting at the zoo to greet us when we arrived.  It was great to see a familiar face in Chengdu. We met Mr. Yu when he visited the Houston Zoo in December and we both had an opportunity to show him around our zoo and now, he is able to give us a tour of his zoo.

IMG_3749The Chengdu zoo is very fortunate to have a few animals that we do not have in Houston including, South China tiger, Golden monkey Hog deer, Takin, and Giant panda.  Mr. Yu has hired translators from Animals Asia to attend and assist with interpreting while we are here to make sure we all understand each other’s ideas.  Overall there are 26 participates from 4 different zoos from around this area attending the workshop. Our plan is the same as it was in Hangzhou. We will present our power points on Exhibit Design, Enrichment and Training and then visit several of the exhibits in the zoo to brainstorm on ways to improve the exhibit or ways to start an enrichment and training plan for the animals.

In addition to the workshop Mr. Yu and several of the keepers introduced us to the Szechuan style food that they are famous for in Chengdu.  Saying the food is spicy is definitely an understatement!  Even though we both like eating spicy food, we were in tears and sweating while we enjoyed our dinner.  After eating they informed us that the food we were eating is very mild compared to what they normally eat.  They said it was what they would feed 5 year old children here!

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