North Korea: Korea Central Zoo in Pyongyang

I don’t like zoos generally, but seeing a zoo in North Korea was part of the program. A sprawling complex houses over 5000 animals from 600 species, including elephants, giraffes, hippos, bears, Siberian tigers, wolves, Przewalski horses, camels, and much more. Koreans come in large tour groups to see the animals. The zoo is enormous, with an aquarium and a terrarium. Almost all animals were given to the zoo by the glorious leader Kim Jong Il or Kim John Un, who in turn received them as presents from foreign leaders (who said regifting wasn’t allowed). Plaques inform you when and how the animals came to the zoo. The most bizarre part of the zoo were two huge pavilions – one for domestic cats and the other for domestic dogs – only in North Korea! Pet ownership is illegal in North Korea for hygiene reasons (also cats may be too independent to support socialism) and seeing these animals in the zoo is the only chance for North Koreans to observe them.