Animals in Fuzhou Zoo in the capital city of east China's Fujian Province will soon have a more spacious home.
The zoo will be relocated to a much bigger site in the city, which covers about 53 hectares, more than 10 times larger than the current one.
With an area of only 4 hectares, the zoo is regarded as the smallest in the nation's capital cities, said Chen Guichun, director with the zoo's administration section.
Having been living in small and humid cages for a long time, many animals have become emotionally disturbed and often behave abnormally.
"The poor conditions affect the normal living environment of the animals and their reproductive capacity," Chen said.
"Some of the animals, such as wolves, swans and mandarin ducks, have not even bred after coming here."
Founded in 1956, the zoo now has more than 900 animals including some nationally protected species such as South China tigers, Asian elephants, leopards and red-crowned cranes.
Due to the limited size, the sanitation conditions are not good enough, although workers have made great efforts, Chen said.
"The zoo should be great fun for children to come and visit, but now fewer and fewer kids come to visit here."
Situated in the downtown area of the city, the zoo has also caused problems for nearby residents.
"It's terrible that every day we have to suffer the odour from the zoo," said a woman surnamed Lin, who lives close to the site.
"The roars of lions and tigers are so scary at night for my child," she added.
At present, the environment evaluation of the new site and bidding for the new design are expected to finish in March.
The construction will begin next year, which is predicted to cost at least 50 million yuan (US$6.22 million), according to Fuzhou Municipal Bureau of Parks.
The new site, located north of the central area of the city, with rich plant resources, will be developed into an important tourist spot, said sources with the bureau.
"The new zoo will not only offer a better living environment for animals, but also a more advanced condition for scientific research in wildlife protection," said Chen.
(China Daily February 28, 2006)