There’s a quote by Bill Waterson floating around the internet and I don’t know if it’s true or even in context, but it goes something like:
You know, sometimes the word seems like a pretty mean place… That’s why animals are so soft and huggy.
I love going to the zoo. It’s something I always wished I had done more as a child. On the other hand, I feel conflicted about the cramped spaces, loneliness, and overall unnatural state that the animals live in. Unfortunately, I have neither the skills or the money to wander out into the wilderness and photograph bears so I go to the zoo.
The Seoul Zoo isn’t the best zoo I’ve been to, but it is cheap and close to Seoul (yes, the Seoul Zoo is located in Gwacheon, just 15 minutes south of Seoul). Built into the side of a mountain, half of the visitors go to experience the zoo and half to hike up and down the mountain. The Tuesday when I went, my girlfriend had most of the park to ourselves. We literally went half an hour without seeing another person with the exception of a few students at one point; it was great.
The zoo does offer a few opportunities to get up and close to the animals. At any time between 1 pm and 4 pm, there are a couple of petting and feeding sessions where visitors can get up close to llamas, goats, deer, and kangaroos. Unfortunately this Tuesday, all the petting sessions were closed. It wasn’t hard to see why what with the thirty or forty other visitors we saw that day.
With the exception of the overwhelming emptiness, it was a normal visit to the zoo. Without the crowds around, more of the animals were willing to get up close to the glass and fences. Especially this little guy who posed for a few photos and even stuck around for a selfie with me on my cell phone camera (which was immediately posted to FB).
The size of the park and lack of any all encompassing trails meant that we’d be walking up and down the mountain all day. Especially since we didn’t realize that the petting programs were closed for the day, this resulted in my girlfriend pedometer giving us a friendly message saying we’d walked over 6 kilometers. Awesome. We ended our trip about six hours after we began, exhausted and slightly dehydrated from the intensive hike. It would be another hour before we arrived at home to greet our own little furry roommate at the door. Another animal to pose with and take pictures of.
The easiest way to get to the Seoul Zoo is by taking the No. 4 Subway Line to Seoul Grand Park (대공원역) and going out through Exit 2. Afterwards, take the long straight away and you’ll arrive at the ticketing office. Be sure to take the package deal which gives you entry into the zoo, ticket for the tram ride, and sky lift ticket. Take the tram to the park (and back unless you want a very long walk) and enter the park.