Tottering cub lions, sleeping tigers and Hamadryas Baboons hanging on the trees wowed visitors during the trial nighttime operation of Shanghai Wild Animal Park on Thursday.
Until Oct 15, the zoo has pushed back its closing time from 5 pm to 9 pm. Nighttime ticket sales start at 3 pm. More than 100 species and nearly 5,000 animals can be seen at night.
Located in Pudong New Area, the Shanghai Wild Animal Park features more than 200 rare animal species from around the world. Two main sections - the pedestrian zone and water adventure facility - are available for night visitors while the drive-through area will be closed for safety reasons.
"Night zoos have operated in Singapore and Thailand, but this is the first one in our country. It helps to boost Shanghai's nighttime economy and provides an alternative for visitors at night," said Zhong Yi, deputy general manager of Shanghai Wild Animal Park.
Since some animals sleep during the day and forage at night, the night zoo allows visitors to have a comprehensive understanding of the wild animals and to enhance the awareness of animal protection, according to Li Qingwen, representative of the China Wildlife Conservation Association.
Ensuring that the living habits of animals are not being interrupted is the top concern for park management.
According to park authorities, experts and professionals evaluated the night zoo project and believed that the current operation could guarantee the health and safety of animals. The park also selected suitable animals for display. For example, they only picked seven out of nine species from the monkey section as they are more active during night. Also, the giant panda exhibition area will not open at night.
"We have adjusted the light system for the night zoo, with brighter lighting on the roads, water areas, and toilets to secure visitors' safety while using diffuse lights to simulate a natural moonlight effect in the animals' living areas," Zhong added.
"I came to the night zoo because of curiosity about the animals' behavior during the nighttime," said Liu Yufei, a 20-year-old student who visited the night zoo on opening day.
"Since I have class in the daytime, the night zoo provides me a new way to spend the night. There are also fewer tourists at night, and the summer weather is comfortable," Liu said.
"But the transportation is an issue," she added.
The night zoo opened six animal-themed exhibition areas, three featured performances, animal-themed restaurants, and souvenirs stores.
It also launched the "Night Animal Tour" and animal shows at Sea Lion Theater and International Circus Theater.
Zhang Caiyun, another tourist who brought her 6-year-old son to the zoo, said: "the colorful lights and the animal tour are more attractive than the daytime activities and I don't have to worry about my son getting sunburned at night."
"The closing of the drive-through area is the only regret. It will be a unique experience to visit rare animals through the dark by tour bus," Zhang said.
Having prepared for about three years for the night project, the park will evaluate its operation to adjust the layout of the animals, types of exhibitions, and the night facilities after operating for a while, according to park authorities.
On the same day that the zoo opened, the city also issued a list of cultural and tourist sites that are opening at night. More than 100 spots were listed, according to Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture and Tourism.
It included major tourist attractions, art galleries, museums, amusement parks, and traditional scenic spots that cover 16 districts of the city.