feeling polar

i was trolling through some photos from china this weekend when I came across this photo of a polar bear at the beijing zoo. when we first set out for the zoo, i was keen - I had never been to a zoo, ever - and the giant pandas were supposed to have a lovely space.

and then we got there. I think we were in and out of the zoo in under half and hour, and even then, only because we were lost trying to read the chinese signs and find the entrance we came in through. It would have been faster if we could have gotten out of there sooner, believe me.

In short, it was the most depressing exhibit of animals, anywhere, that I've ever seen. The photo above was one of the best I managed to shoot - and "best" is an overstatement. While we started out optimistic, I soon had to put my camera away before the notion of recording the awfulness of it all brought me to tears.

Living conditions for anything but the giant pandas were appalling, and many locals spent their time tossing french fries and garbage at black bears, the pandas, and a lone cougar wandering around his grey rocky (and dirty) enclosure. Western tourists just wandered around in shock.

But the giant pandas were pretty happy indeed. They had awesome digs.