Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Yesterday was Dev's birthday, and to celebrate we went to the (exhaustively titled) Shanghai Natural Wild Insect Kingdom. Shanghai has two world-class aquariums and a nice zoo, so I had high hopes for the SNWIK.

The SNWIK is fronted by a number of lop-sided, hastily constructed model insects, each about the size of a large dog. Inside, the first room is given over to the pleasing if perplexing combination of ferrets and fish. A small wooden ferret house is filled with a pile of 6-8 sleeping ferrets at the edge of a large, murky koi pond.

Past the fish, you enter the butterfly tunnel - which is, in fact, just a tunnel surmounted by a tangle of netting strewn with dessicated butterfly corpses. The tunnel does boast a parrot, two foxes, and more than a dozen adorable pygmy marmosets; the foxes dining on a meal of dog food, popcorn, shortbread biscuits, and chicken bones. The tunnel reeked of feces.

Past the butterfly tunnel is the "frog area," as well as like areas for snakes, turtles, and lizards. Several reptiles live in a reconstructed cave environment decorated with black construction paper bats like a kindergarten Halloween art project.

Next was the insect area, which I studiously avoided, as I am terribly frightened of insects. On the other hand, perhaps it wouldn't have been so bad, as Dev assures me that many of the cages contained only model insects.

Past the insects was the assortment-of-cute-mammals room, with baby goats, dwarf hamsters, rabbits, chinchillas, squirrels, and more ferrets.

Then, the gift shop, which sold an assortment of insect paperweights and unlicensed rip-off Jurassic Park toys.

So, in short - a world-class educational institution, and a world-class birthday.

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