Our hagwon took the kinder kids on a field trip to Beartree Park, located 25 miles or so outside of Cheonan. Bears are pretty popular here it seems… what with a smattering of bear parks and teddy bear museums all over the peninsula. While the park’s landscaping was definitely well-manicured, the animals were most certainly not.
We checked out the “pet zoo” (note: not “petting zoo”) and the “Asiatic brown bear” sections of the park before calling it a day (two hours with nine screaming, chatty, running, hitting, peeing, “carry me, carry me” 5 and 6 year-olds is long enough– and I like kids). The “pet zoo” featured a wide assortment of creatures: baby brown bears, beagles, goats, rabbits, an akita litter, peacocks, rabbits, guinea pigs, deer, cats, ducks, and some reindeer. Yeah…. The animals didn’t look great; they seemed a bit underfed and their coats were lackluster and shaggy. Some of the dogs had obviously been fighting– one of the akitas even had blood on his ear and muzzle. The pens were devoid of playthings, soft spots for napping, food, and in some cases water– just fenced-in concrete zones of restriction and sadness. The “Asiatic brown bear” section was weird, for lack of a better word. It contained two drop-down enclosures, that must have housed well over 50 fully grown bears each. The bears looked better than the scraggly crew over in the “pet” section– but, really they just looked overfed and lethargic. Perhaps you couldn’t tell, but I am not a fan of zoos… especially not of Asian zoos.
At any rate, the kids seemed to enjoy it (even though my co-teachers and I were secretly shooting each other worried looks over the state of some of the animals). Um… so, win?