Bangkok (AP) – Bangkok’s 80-year-old Dusit Zoo 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 will soon be just a memory. The entry gates shut for the last time Sunday, and more than 1,200 animals will be 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.