Khao Din Zoo is now just a memory

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After operating for 80 years, Dusit zoo was closed permanently Sept. 30, 2018. The zoo originally was a botanical garden for the royals residing in a nearby palace. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
After operating for 80 years, Dusit zoo was closed permanently Sept. 30, 2018. The zoo originally was a botanical garden for the royals residing in a nearby palace. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Bangkok’s 80-year-old Dusit Zoo, lovingly known as Khao Din has the kind of old-fashioned charm that creates family memories in a global capital chock-a-block with shiny shopping malls.

The zoo itself is now just a memory. The entry gates have been shut for the last time Sept 30, and more than 1,200 animals are being moved around the country until a more spacious facility is built in Bangkok’s northern suburbs.

Visitors over the years could ride a paddle boat with a sweetheart or join the youngsters on the zoo’s small train, shouting the names of the animals as the rail cars rolled by the enclosures.

Naturally, they could get to know the zoo’s residents, like 53-year-old hippopotamus Mali, who has given birth to 14 offspring and is the oldest of her kind in Thailand. On hot days, Mali naps near a glass wall in the water at the edge of her enclosure, giving her human admirers an opportunity for a photo close-up. They could watch Malayan sun bears, the smallest bear species and native to Southeast Asia’s tropical forests, attempt to catch bananas thrown by handlers.

Visitors could also soak up Thai history. Dusit Zoo originally was a botanical garden for the royals who lived in a nearby palace. The gardens were converted to a public park after Thailand became a constitutional monarchy in 1932 and then became the Dusit Zoo in March 1938. During World War II, an air raid shelter was built there. (AP)

A White Bengal tiger stretches as it yawns. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
A White Bengal tiger stretches as it yawns. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
A Malayan Sun bear unsuccessfully tries to catch a banana tossed by a zoo-keeper. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
A Malayan Sun bear unsuccessfully tries to catch a banana tossed by a zoo-keeper. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
A child poses for a picture standing next to female hippopotamus named Mali at the Dusit Zoo. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
A child poses for a picture standing next to female hippopotamus named Mali at the Dusit Zoo. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
A woman poses for a picture with a hippopotamus with a wide-open mouth. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
A woman poses for a picture with a hippopotamus with a wide-open mouth. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
A seal swims close to an aquarium glass as visitors gather for a closer look following a seal show at the Dusit Zoo. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
A seal swims close to an aquarium glass as visitors gather for a closer look following a seal show at the Dusit Zoo. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
Schoolchildren from Thailand’s southern province of Pattani province are greeted by visiting Kenyan performers at Dusit Zoo Bangkok. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
Schoolchildren from Thailand’s southern province of Pattani province are greeted by visiting Kenyan performers at Dusit Zoo Bangkok. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
A man poses for a photo at the entrance to an old air-raid shelter, at the Dusit Zoo in Bangkok. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
A man poses for a photo at the entrance to an old air-raid shelter, at the Dusit Zoo in Bangkok. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
A bird flies over a sculpture of a deer fixed atop the boundary fence of Dusit Zoo as the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall looms over in the background in Bangkok. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
A bird flies over a sculpture of a deer fixed atop the boundary fence of Dusit Zoo as the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall looms over in the background in Bangkok. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
Visitors paddle boats in a lake at Dusit Zoo, as the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall in looms over them in the background. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
Visitors paddle boats in a lake at Dusit Zoo, as the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall in looms over them in the background. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)