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Beijing Zoo--Yes or No? Gong's Palace or Capital Museum Instead?

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Our upcoming tour in Beijing includes a visit to the Beijing Zoo. Trip Advisor has mixed reviews--but a good percentage speak of the too small enclosures and depressing conditions for the animals. Just wondering if any fellow Fodorites would be willing to weigh in with their experiences there.

Let me just say that we live near San Diego, California, where the zoo has a fantastic panda habitat and we can see the pandas in ideal circumstances for a zoo. So we are not deprived of having a panda experience.

My friend and I are trying to decide whether to keep the zoo in our itinerary or take an alternate option which has been offered to us, namely Gong's Palace or the Capital Museum. I don't want to go to the zoo and leave depressed; my friend is ok with not going but wouldn't object to a visit. We would only be visiting the panda exhibit.

One consideration, I suppose, is that we wouldn't have the zoo visit until the afternoon after we have been to the Great Wall. One poster on Trip Advisor has shared that the pandas are active only in the morning when they are feeding and that they sleep for the rest of the day.

What do you say? Thumbs up or thumbs down for the zoo? And if down, what do you think about the alternate options?

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