The Blue Zoo Aquarium Blew It
There's an aquarium in Gongti, did you know that? I love aquariums. I find them super fascinating and relaxing, and I can pretty much spend all day in any aquarium - except this one...
Reading about The Blue Zoo from past reviews written by former Jingkids editors makes you ask yourself, "Why haven't I discovered this hidden treasure in Beijing yet?" The last time our editors wrote about it was back in 2011 and we described it as, "There are a series of underwater shows throughout the day, beginning at both 9am and noon. If you can schedule it, weekday visits are recommended to avoid large crowds. Displays are in both Chinese and English, which will help English-speakers get the most out of their aquarium experience.
The first tanks are divided by specimen, with countless examples of each finned variety. Clownfish, lionfish, moorish idols and other tropical favorites are all at eye-level. Big-mouthed bottom feeders share a tank, and include the shark catfish and arapaima – a sturgeon-like living fossil."
Sounds great, doesn't it? Well, we went on a lovely weekend afternoon thinking it would be fun for the whole family all for as low as RMB 99 per person.
It wasn't very promising when we pulled up. The signs were faded and there weren't many people in sight. It looked run down and the signage leading to the entrance displayed questionable shows like underwater pole dancing.
When we arrived at the ticket counter, we were told that if we wanted the Dianping price of RMB 99 we needed to book a day in advance. The door price for an adult is RMB 138 for a ticket that doesn't include shows or RMB 198 for one that does. Good news though, kids under 1 meter tall are free.
“Ok, we made the effort of coming all the way here, might as well go in, full price...”
Going down the escalator decorated with underwater marine life, my excitement level increased to a max 10. Then the escalator takes us to the B1 level and I couldn't believe my senses. Not only was there no marine life, but my nostrils were filled with the scent of chemically-soaked sausages and the sounds of arcade machines assailed my ears. This was not quite what I was expecting for a serene aquarium. But then, we found another set of escalators that led to B2 level, and my hope for a chill but fun outing was renewed.
This hope was dashed by a strong whiff of the toilet as we entered the lower basement level.
We tried our best to ignore the pungent odor to make the best of our experience at Blue Zoo. The most interesting thing (and what gets photographed in all their promotional material) is their conveyor belt tour where you can see fish swim around you and overhead. While it sounds pretty cool, the drabby shape of the tank and the scant variety of fish within was less than impressive.
It's not all bad. If your child is still young enough like my 10 month-old daughter, they'll have a great time admiring fish.
And since the rest of the aquarium is simply a few ill-kept tanks, we took about five trips around the conveyer belt - just to get our money's worth. The rest of the aquarium is home to a little family of sea turtles, two sharks, two sea lions, and a decent array of aquatic life.
As long as your child is young enough and you're not expecting grandiose shows or even clean tanks, an afternoon at Blue Zoo learning a bit about sea turtles and sharks isn't too bad of an option.
But then again, my 10 month-old daughter would have been just as entertained looking at the seafood tank at a restaurant.
Images: Mina Yan