Life size models of animals on display outside the main gates of Taiyuan city zoo. Low cost accommodation and factories and industrial plants surround the zoo. Taiyuan Zoo, Shanxi Province, CHINA.  December 2008.
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Life size models of animals on display outside the main gates of Taiyuan city zoo. Low cost accommodation and factories and industrial plants surround the zoo. Taiyuan Zoo, Shanxi Province, CHINA. December 2008. ×
Life size models of animals on display outside the main gates of Taiyuan city zoo. Low cost accommodation and factories and industrial plants surround the zoo. Taiyuan Zoo, Shanxi Province, CHINA. December 2008. ×

"Man must conquer nature" - Mao Zedong. 


When I first went to China in 2007 part of me was curious as to what wildlife I might encounter, it didn’t take long to find out ‘not much’.


China’s fast paced urbanisation has seen almost 500 million rural Chinese people move into cities over the last 35 years, by 2025 China wants to have 70% of the population, roughly 900 million people, in city living. 


Mao Zedongs teachings of ‘Man must conquer nature’ and the Great Leap Forward in the 1950’s an assault on the natural world in China which hasn’t really stopped. Maoist thought suggested that the human race were fundamentally distinct from the natural world, and as such humans should mobilise to overcome the obstacles that nature places in their way.


I found Zoo’s to be a metaphor for the country’s relationship with the natural world. Here the visitor is in control and the animals are seen as a form of entertainment than something from a world beyond the city. Having visited dozens of them through the country, like China’s cities, they share some sort of blueprint and are much the same. A brown bear pit, usually littered with plastic bottles and licked out food wrappers, a monkey ‘mountain’ (a concrete structure made to look like natural rock) and if it’s a zoo worth visiting then the full glass enclosure of the Giant Panda – always the best accommodation in the zoo. And if the animals are not photogenic enough then rest assured there will be fibre glass and stone animal replicas in which to take your picture with.

Two model Giraffes. Linyi Zoo, Shangdong, China. July 2012.
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Two model Giraffes. Linyi Zoo, Shangdong, China. July 2012. ×
Two model Giraffes. Linyi Zoo, Shangdong, China. July 2012. ×
Chinese children climbing on elelphant statues having their photo taken. Beijing Zoo. CHINA. Summer 2010
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Chinese children climbing on elelphant statues having their photo taken. Beijing Zoo. CHINA. Summer 2010 ×
Chinese children climbing on elelphant statues having their photo taken. Beijing Zoo. CHINA. Summer 2010 ×
Linyi Zoo, Shangdong, China. July 2012.
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Linyi Zoo, Shangdong, China. July 2012. ×
Linyi Zoo, Shangdong, China. July 2012. ×
A bear being forced to perfom in an animal entertainment ring in Yangzhou Zoo, Jiangsu Province China. April 2011.
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A bear being forced to perfom in an animal entertainment ring in Yangzhou Zoo, Jiangsu Province China. April 2011. ×
A bear being forced to perfom in an animal entertainment ring in Yangzhou Zoo, Jiangsu Province China. April 2011. ×
A boy poses for a photo with a strapped down tiger. Yangzhou Zoo, Jiangsu Province China. April 2011.
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A boy poses for a photo with a strapped down tiger. Yangzhou Zoo, Jiangsu Province China. April 2011. ×
A boy poses for a photo with a strapped down tiger. Yangzhou Zoo, Jiangsu Province China. April 2011. ×
An elephant poses for photos with tourists inside the ring of an animal entertainment area.  Hangzhou zoo, China.  September 2010
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An elephant poses for photos with tourists inside the ring of an animal entertainment area. Hangzhou zoo, China. September 2010 ×
An elephant poses for photos with tourists inside the ring of an animal entertainment area. Hangzhou zoo, China. September 2010 ×
Animal models with kids playing on them. Shanghai Zoo. China. January 2017.
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Animal models with kids playing on them. Shanghai Zoo. China. January 2017. ×
Animal models with kids playing on them. Shanghai Zoo. China. January 2017. ×
The elephant enclosure with ferris wheel in background. Nanjing Zoo. Jiangsu Province, China. April 2011.
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The elephant enclosure with ferris wheel in background. Nanjing Zoo. Jiangsu Province, China. April 2011. ×
The elephant enclosure with ferris wheel in background. Nanjing Zoo. Jiangsu Province, China. April 2011. ×
Albino kangaroos. Shanghai Zoo. China. January 2017.
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Albino kangaroos. Shanghai Zoo. China. January 2017. ×
Albino kangaroos. Shanghai Zoo. China. January 2017. ×
A visitor in oranges draws the attention of a monkey. Nanjing Zoo. Jiangsu Province, China. April 2011.
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A visitor in oranges draws the attention of a monkey. Nanjing Zoo. Jiangsu Province, China. April 2011. ×
A visitor in oranges draws the attention of a monkey. Nanjing Zoo. Jiangsu Province, China. April 2011. ×
The cracking legs of a model giraffe on display. Changchun Zoo. Changchun, China. January 2017.
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The cracking legs of a model giraffe on display. Changchun Zoo. Changchun, China. January 2017. ×
The cracking legs of a model giraffe on display. Changchun Zoo. Changchun, China. January 2017. ×
A stuffed bird display in a cafe next to the Bird avery. Beijign Zoo, CHINA. Summer 2010.
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A stuffed bird display in a cafe next to the Bird avery. Beijign Zoo, CHINA. Summer 2010. ×
A stuffed bird display in a cafe next to the Bird avery. Beijign Zoo, CHINA. Summer 2010. ×
A seal swims beside the viewing glass. Changchun Zoo. Changchun, China. January 2017.
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A seal swims beside the viewing glass. Changchun Zoo. Changchun, China. January 2017. ×
A seal swims beside the viewing glass. Changchun Zoo. Changchun, China. January 2017. ×
A Chimpanzee enclosure. Changchun Zoo. Changchun, China. January 2017.
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A Chimpanzee enclosure. Changchun Zoo. Changchun, China. January 2017. ×
A Chimpanzee enclosure. Changchun Zoo. Changchun, China. January 2017. ×
A monkey mountain. Changchun Zoo. Changchun, China. January 2017.
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A monkey mountain. Changchun Zoo. Changchun, China. January 2017. ×
A monkey mountain. Changchun Zoo. Changchun, China. January 2017. ×
A small type of monkey. Shanghai Zoo. China. January 2017.
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A small type of monkey. Shanghai Zoo. China. January 2017. ×
A small type of monkey. Shanghai Zoo. China. January 2017. ×
Two model kangaroos. Changchun Zoo. Changchun, China. January 2017.
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Two model kangaroos. Changchun Zoo. Changchun, China. January 2017. ×
Two model kangaroos. Changchun Zoo. Changchun, China. January 2017. ×
Through the window of the Flamingo enclosure. Beijing Zoo, CHINA. Summer 2010.
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Through the window of the Flamingo enclosure. Beijing Zoo, CHINA. Summer 2010. ×
Through the window of the Flamingo enclosure. Beijing Zoo, CHINA. Summer 2010. ×
Nanjing Zoo, Spring 2013. China
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Nanjing Zoo, Spring 2013. China ×
Nanjing Zoo, Spring 2013. China ×
A male with a BB gun besides the elephant enclosure. Nanjing Zoo. Jiangsu Province, China. April 2011.
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A male with a BB gun besides the elephant enclosure. Nanjing Zoo. Jiangsu Province, China. April 2011. ×
A male with a BB gun besides the elephant enclosure. Nanjing Zoo. Jiangsu Province, China. April 2011. ×
Tourists look through the windows into an indoor panda enclosure. Chengdu Giant Panda Base, China. July 2011.
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Tourists look through the windows into an indoor panda enclosure. Chengdu Giant Panda Base, China. July 2011. ×
Tourists look through the windows into an indoor panda enclosure. Chengdu Giant Panda Base, China. July 2011. ×
A panda looks through the hatch in a door. Chengdu Giant Panda Base, China. July 2011.
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A panda looks through the hatch in a door. Chengdu Giant Panda Base, China. July 2011. ×
A panda looks through the hatch in a door. Chengdu Giant Panda Base, China. July 2011. ×
Pictures on the back of a bus which takes you into the lion enclosure. Shanghai Safari Zoo, China. Spring 2013.
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Pictures on the back of a bus which takes you into the lion enclosure. Shanghai Safari Zoo, China. Spring 2013. ×
Pictures on the back of a bus which takes you into the lion enclosure. Shanghai Safari Zoo, China. Spring 2013. ×
Cuddly toy gift shop. Shanghai Safari Zoo, China. Spring 2013.
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Cuddly toy gift shop. Shanghai Safari Zoo, China. Spring 2013. ×
Cuddly toy gift shop. Shanghai Safari Zoo, China. Spring 2013. ×
African plain background in the cafe. Shenyang Forest Wild Animal Zoo, Liaoning Province, CHINA. August 2012
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African plain background in the cafe. Shenyang Forest Wild Animal Zoo, Liaoning Province, CHINA. August 2012 ×
African plain background in the cafe. Shenyang Forest Wild Animal Zoo, Liaoning Province, CHINA. August 2012 ×
People drop money into a turtle enclosure. Taiyuan Yingze Park Zoo. Shanxi province, China. January 2016.
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People drop money into a turtle enclosure. Taiyuan Yingze Park Zoo. Shanxi province, China. January 2016. ×
People drop money into a turtle enclosure. Taiyuan Yingze Park Zoo. Shanxi province, China. January 2016. ×
A youth looks towards the camera with two dinosaur models in background. Near Tianjin Zoo entrance. Tianjin, China. May 2011.
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A youth looks towards the camera with two dinosaur models in background. Near Tianjin Zoo entrance. Tianjin, China. May 2011. ×
A youth looks towards the camera with two dinosaur models in background. Near Tianjin Zoo entrance. Tianjin, China. May 2011. ×
A green grass and blue sky backdrop besides a picnic area. Yinchuan Zoo, Ningxia, China. January 2013.
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A green grass and blue sky backdrop besides a picnic area. Yinchuan Zoo, Ningxia, China. January 2013. ×
A green grass and blue sky backdrop besides a picnic area. Yinchuan Zoo, Ningxia, China. January 2013. ×
A male Zebra stands in its enclosure with a coal power plant in backdrop. Yangzhou Zoo, Jiangsu Province, China. April 2011.
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A male Zebra stands in its enclosure with a coal power plant in backdrop. Yangzhou Zoo, Jiangsu Province, China. April 2011. ×
A male Zebra stands in its enclosure with a coal power plant in backdrop. Yangzhou Zoo, Jiangsu Province, China. April 2011. ×
Visitors to the zoo cover themselves from the sun. Yangzhou Zoo, Jiangsu Province, China. April 2011.
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Visitors to the zoo cover themselves from the sun. Yangzhou Zoo, Jiangsu Province, China. April 2011. ×
Visitors to the zoo cover themselves from the sun. Yangzhou Zoo, Jiangsu Province, China. April 2011. ×