Families that crave more interaction with animal life than is available at the city’s wet markets and restaurants have various options in the city.
The Shanghai Natural Wild Insect Kingdom (1 Fenghe Rd), otherwise known as the ‘Bug Museum’ , is set amidst the skyscrapers of central Lujiazui. Glorious myriads of creepy crawlies, small mammals and reptiles make this an almost risk-free bet for children of all ages. The small but well stocked gift shop will prove particularly popular with fans of lizards and dinosaurs (admission: adults RMB 40, children RMB25).
Shanghai Zoo (2381 Hongqiao Rd) located on the former grounds of the old colonial golf course has retained a spacious, park-like feel. The zoo has a good collection of animals including monkeys, bears, lions, rhinos, giraffes, vultures and more. Incremental renovations have resulted in an eclectic atmosphere, with state-of-the-art facilities jostling up against shabbier ones but there is a big push to get the zoo ready for Expo 2010 so that the animals too can enjoy the benefits of ‘Better city, better life’ (admission: RMB 40).
Further out is the Shanghai Wild Animal Park (178 Nanliu Rd), which hosts over 200 species including giraffes, zebras, antelopes and rhinoceroses, giant pandas, golden monkeys, South china tigers and Asian elephants. While hardly ‘wild’, the animals are in slightly less enclosed spaces than at the zoo. The park is divided into a walking zone (including a petting zoo) and a bus safari. The park also features various animal shows as well as other questionable attractions (though the park insists it has stopped the most notorious of these: the sacrifice of live chickens and ducks – for a fee - to the animals in the ‘carnivore zone’ (admission: adults RMB 130, children RMB 65).
Shanghai also has two quite lavish aquariums. The Shanghai Ocean Aquarium located at 1388 Lujiazui Ring Road, in the heart of Pudong New Area, is the slicker of the two. This state-of-the-art aquarium hosts a wide variety of underwater creatures, from sharks, rays and sea turtles to seals and penguins. Animals are organized by region and environment, many immersively viewed from within transparent tunnels – including the world’s longest. For those in search of an eccentric birthday adventure, sleep over parties can be booked at the aquarium (admission: adults RMB 160, children RMB 110).
Changfeng Ocean World (Aquaria 21) located inside Changfeng Park (close to gate no. 4 at 451 Daduhe Rd) is another good place for fans of underwater life. Colorful Sea creatures are displayed according to theme. Kids will specially enjoy the slightly cheesy but atmospheric ‘Inca temple’ and ‘sunken pirate ship’. The steep ticket price includes entrance to a live show, which is housed in a separate building on the other side of the lake. The show featuring dolphins, sea lions and lots of clowns is an extremely popular venue for school trips (admission: adults RMB 140, children RMB 90).