A day at Guangzhou's Chimelong Safari Park

On approach, you can hear Chimelong Safari Park before you can see it - not the roaring lions or the chatter of monkeys, but the audible excitement of the countless children visiting the zoo.

There are over 500 rare animals within this 2000 acre park, but there's no hiding the fact that the pandas are its main attraction.

The hundreds of local school children will make you feel very welcome.
The hundreds of local school children will make you feel very welcome. Photo credit: Newshub/Dan Lake

The lion may be the king of the jungle, but in this part of the world, there's another creature that sits atop the hierarchy - in terms of popularity at least. 

Chimelong Safari Park features a set of panda triplets, one female and two male.

They're adorable, handsome and cool, even by name - Meng Meng (Adorable), Shuai Shuai (Handsome) and Ku Ku (Cool). 

They're also very special, as just the fourth set of triplet pandas ever recorded, and the first where all three cubs survived.

As amazing as it is gazing upon the panda triplets, they're just one of the attractions of Chimelong Safari Park.

The pandas are hugely popular, even the ones in the gift shop.
The pandas are hugely popular, even the ones in the gift shop. Photo credit: Newshub/Dan Lake

Entering as a foreigner, groups of school children will say 'hello' and ask you how you are, before laughing joyfully at your response. The novelty they enjoy in speaking to someone of European descent is in turn sure to make you smile.

There's a mixture of guided tram tours and dozens of different walkways to cover off inside the zoo.

The safari on wheels takes you through the habitat of different animals from around the world, starting with kangaroos, emus and a rare black swan.

Then there's alpacas, rheas, yaks and camels before you get to one of my favourite creatures of all time - the elephants.

Chimelong is home to over 20 Asian elephants from Thailand. A mixture of males, females and infants. Their wise old faces look at you as though they hold all the information in the world and want to share it with you.

My time at the zoo was limited to just half a day, so if you're in a rush - perhaps on a Guangzhou stopover - the two attractions that should not be missed are the pandas (of course), and the awesome giraffe feeding zone. 

A word of advice for anyone taking their kids: hold onto them when they're feeding the giraffes, or they may end up like the child next to me - lifted up a metre above the ground and holding on for dear life!

Giraffe feeding was one of the highlights, but keep an eye on your children.
Giraffe feeding was one of the highlights, but keep an eye on your children. Photo credit: Newshub/Dan Lake

It was ultimately harmless, and quite funny, with an element of schadenfreude to see happen, but maybe a little scary for the kid.

The safari park may be an afterthought for those planning a visit to the massive ammusment park next door, but it's worth a visit in its own right. It's quite simplistic in terms of its layout and activities, so you can easily make your way around at your own pace.

Have you been to Guangzhou? What tips do you have? Join the conversation in our travel tips, tricks and hacks Facebook group.

Newshub Travel visited China as a guest of China Southern and New Zealand Chinese Language Week.

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