Escape to Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Zoo was established by Mr. Harold Mason Young, an American missionary who volunteered to teach forest survival guide to soldiers and policemen during the Korean War (1950-1953). He had grown up in Burma and it all started with him looking after injured animals.

He opened the small private zoo for the first time around 1952 and hired a few local people and tribesmen to take care of it. He had to seek permission directly from the Chiang Mai Governor to utilize a reserved forest area at the foot of Doi Suthep. He finally obtained the permission for the location and was open from 6 April 1957 until Mr Young passed away in 1975. The zoo was transferred to be under the Zoological Park Organization of Thailand.

Talking to an American man who first came to the zoo 30 years ago all the animals were looked after by mostly tribal families who lived on the site and cared for their particular group or singular animals. It is now on a huge 200 acre site and has a lot of people working there.

Whether you like zoos or not it is the most natural of zoos with big enclosures and they have spent an enormous amount of money on it in the last year. They have a lot of schoolchildren visit and now have dedicated educational spaces where they can teach animal welfare, protection, conservation and how the zoo works.

It takes at least 3-4 hours to walkaround it and there are some really unusual animals. This fennec fox is one of my favourites, it’s only little..

The Binterong, body like a bear and the face of a cat with a long fluffy tail

We are pleased that there is no longer an elephant chained up and many other things have changed for the better due to tourists and animal welfare groups with bigger and more modern enclosures for many animals. I really liked hand feeding the hippos where you could stroke their chins but all that has changed in the last few years, that’s health and safety for you!

You can still feed them but you have to throw it into their mouths from about 6 feet away

It costs 150 baht (£3.80) for a day out at the zoo and for me I like seeing the unusual animals and having a good walk.

You don’t have to go to the zoo in Thailand to see wildlife there are butterflies, strange insects, snakes, spiders and everything you would expect in a tropical climate. These are just a few we have seen mostly in trips out on the bike and walking up trails. This is a fulgorid plant hopper or lantern bug.

Several Huntsman spider species live in Thailand, and many of them can grow up to the size of a grown man’s hand. Unlike most spiders, they do not build webs, but instead rely on their speed and agility to catch prey. They can often find their way inside houses and other dwellings in search of cockroaches and other insects. This one was under my flip flop a couple of years ago outside my hotel room

An orb weaver

This phobia-inspiring spawn of Satan can grow up to 20 cm in length, and eats all kinds of prey it can overwhelm with its size and venom. Those include small reptiles and even mice for the bigger specimens. They behave aggressively if they feel the slightest bit threatened, and sometimes attack even without any provocation. This large one was just crossing the road so we stopped to have a look it was about 8”.

Getting bitten by this species means severe pain, lasting for 4 to 5 days, along with bruising and swelling of the bite site.

We haven’t come across many snakes apart from a few squashed ones on the road but we did see this green vine snake whilst out on a ride which is harmless

So not to give you nightmares here are a few pretty butterflies

And some random creatures

”The most beautiful gift of nature is that it gives one pleasure to look around and try to comprehend what we see“. Albert Einstein