Kaohsiung’s Shou Shan Zoo is neither the best nor the worst zoo in the world. It has a respectable 100 different species (from white tigers to red pandas) kept in adequate enclosures. However, a quick internet search will reveal a troubled history of zookeepers mislabeling species and poor conditions for the animals.
What makes Shou Shan Zoo special for me is two-fold. First, the location. The zoo is on Monkey Mountain. This means that the zoo and the drive to the zoo offer splendid views of the sea and Kaohsiung. It also means that the zoo’s paths are shaded by the surrounding forest. Second, the names of the animals are provided using bopomo, the phonetic transcription of Mandarin Chinese. This helps us and Taiwanese children to learn animal vocabulary.
To get to Shou Shan Zoo by scooter or car, simply drive south on Gushan Rd. until you see the signs pointing to the Martyr’s Shrine. Follow the signs and turn right. This road winds up the side of the mountain. You will see the sign for the zoo on the left, but the entrance is actually further up the road on the right.
By public transportation, you can take bus No. 56 from either Kaohsiung Main Station or from Yanchengpu MRT station.
Entrance to the zoo costs $40NT. Children under six are free. If you live in Kaohsiung’s Gushan District, your entrance is also free when you show your ID.