Paintings on habitat walls appeal to zoo visitors

Updated: 2016-01-12 08:12

By Huang Zhiling in Chengdu(China Daily)

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Art students from Chengdu decorate den walls with forests, mountains and rivers

Paintings on habitat walls appeal to zoo visitors

Two red-crowned cranes in their den, which is decorated with paintings on the walls, at the Chengdu Zoo. Photo by Huang Zhiling / China Daily

As two rare red-crowned cranes feed in their den, a knot of sparrows flies in to share the food. Visitors take photos or stand quietly, observing the birds.

It was just another day at Chengdu Zoo in Chengdu, Sichuan province, but the sight pleased Li Xiao, who was visiting with a friend from Austria.

"We had been in a mood before we arrived at the den of the red-crowned cranes. The peaceful coexistence of the different birds has cheered us up," Li said.

"We liked the painting on the den wall. The reed pond in the painting is so true-to-life and we almost mistook it for the cranes' natural habitat."

The last time Li visited the zoo was 12 years ago, when all of the den walls were white and monotonous.

"But now, they have beautiful paintings which resemble the animals' natural habitats," she said.

The Chengdu Zoo, which opened to visitors in 1976, is the largest zoo in Southwest China. It has more than 300 types of rare animals, including giant pandas and Manchurian tigers.

In the past decade, the zoo has invested nearly 100 million yuan ($15.2 million) to build larger dens and animal playgrounds. A massive forested habitat decorates the den walls for some 500 birds, deputy zoo chief Jing Shimin said.

"Art students from Chengdu University of Technology and Chengdu University were invited to decorate the den walls with paintings," he said.

Visitors also were impressed by the vivid paintings of mountains and rivers on the walls in the tiger dens, while paintings of grasslands were featured in the African lions' dens.

"The animals' real living environments have been introduced through the paintings," said Wang Qiang, head of the zoo.

"For example, the Changbai Mountains have been painted on the den wall of the Manchurian tigers."

The efforts to improve the habitats have paid off as the zoo has been drawing an increasing number of visitors.

About 2.8 million people visited the zoo in 2015, a rise of more than 100,000 over the previous year, Jing said.

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