Chimelong Group are the leading zoological organisation in China, currently operating 3 zoos: Chimelong Safari and Chimelong Birds Park in Guangzhou City and Chimelong Ocean Kingdom in Zhuhai (a couple of hours drive south, near Macau). The Group also manages theme parks/resorts and hotels with the animal attractions.
I’m excited and pleased to be working for them, helping develop education strategy and programmes. They already do some wonderful work and have some great people. The potential for conservation education and having an influence on people’s understanding of science and action for sustainability, is immense; not least with the millions of visitors to the zoos coming as tourists from other parts of China, as well as locally.
There are challenges of course, but to a large extent these can be seen as opportunities. The fact the organisation has a desire to strive for excellence and both improvement and development, are great platforms to work with. A bonus is that they are very successful and committing resources to enable activity and a quality visitor experience.
Many “in the west” are quick to criticise or jump to conclusions as soon as you say China or Asia, whereas the reality here is that, yes there is room for change and improvement, but it is gradually being addressed and high standards achieved and aimed for. Indeed, many “western” zoos need to, and can do the same.
The worldwide appeal of zoos in all their forms (over 10% of world population visiting a zoo each year) is something, if utilised and developed, can be a huge force for conservation, and education engagement. It’s great to be working in this field of activity. making a small contribution to a big effort.