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Mongolia’s mini zoo makes an appearance in Darkhan

By MICHELLE BOROK

December 2, 2013

Darkhan residents had a busy weekend at Zaluuchuud Theatre. Starting on Friday, Mongolia’s mini zoo made a three day appearance at the city’s theatre with 40 animals, and on Sunday evening, the weekend came to a more glamorous close with a concert by Mongolian diva, Sarantuya and special guest musicians.

Mongolia’s mini zoo was once located in Buddha Park in Ulaanbaatar. Prior to its location in Zaisan, it was located in Central Stadium. Last Spring, the UB Post featured an interview with the zoo’s founder, L.Sainbat, as he was hoping to open his zoo for the summer. At the time of the interview, the zoo was facing eviction and asking for government support to maintain their facilities and continue operations.

The zoo was unable to make a permanent home in Zaisan, but L.Sainbat continues to take his animals around the country to share with provinces that rarely see many of these species of birds, mammals and reptiles up close.

The mini zoo is a combination of domesticated and wild animals. Most of the wild animals are indigenous species that L.Sainbat was able to rescue, or were brought to him with injuries for rehabilitation. They have been rehabilitated, but are no longer able to survive in the wild, and now travel with the zoo to educate visitors and give them an up close look at the unique wildlife that Mongolia is home to. The domesticated animals are mostly pets that were abandoned.

When the zoo isn’t on the road, the animals live with keepers in Darkhan-Uul and Umnugovi provinces, and in Yarmag in Ulaanbaatar. Finding a permanent home for the zoo’s animals remains a challenge, due to the financial burden of building a facility that can provide year-round accommodations for the wide variety of animals and grounds suitably located for attracting a steady stream of visitors.

The cost of admission has remained 2,500 MNT for adults and 2,000 MNT for children, and the opportunity to purchase photo souvenirs taken with the zoo’s Golden Eagle and reindeer was also available. The proceeds from the zoo go back into the costs for feeding and keeping the animals.

The zoo was set up in a second floor hallway of the theatre, and saw a constant stream of visitors once local schools had closed for the day.  The first two animals on display were the Golden Eagle and a very friendly reindeer – both indigenous to Mongolia. As promised, over 40 animals were on view. Uncommonly bred domesticated ducks, turkeys and guinea hens were on view, as were wild pheasants. The domesticated rabbits sharing the display area with the ducks were friendly, and eager to meet visitors, as were the guinea pigs, and white kittens. Even these animals, more familiar as pets, were crowd-pleasers for both younger and older visitors. Each animal’s enclosure had a placard that gave the name of the animal in Mongolian and English, and some information about its species.

Behind a small fence that kept visitors from being able to reach in and touch them, in the corner of the theatre’s long hallway, were two adult wolves lazily watching the crowd. L.Sainbat says one of the wolves was purchased from someone who had raised it to slaughter for its fur and meat, and the other was rescued from a dog fight. While raised in captivity, the wolves are still wild, but unfit to survive on their own if they were released into their native habitats in the northern forest or the Gobi.

The zoo features several native raptors, including its Golden Eagle, a Cinereous Vulture, and Black Eared Kite. Small birds, including quail, lovebirds, cockatiels and doves were also popular, as well as a pair of peacocks. The zoo’s collection of reptiles and its tarantula also drew a curious crowd.

The children and adults of Darkhan were captivated by the zoo, many wishing it had a permanent home for regular visitation. L.Sainbat has been working as a children’s educator since 2002. Hopefully he is able to continue his work, inspiring curiosity about the natural world to people throughout the country.

Short URL: http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=6977

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