Over the years, Saigon has changed as drastically as a flounder undergoing a metamorphosis that transfers its eyes from one side of its face to the other.
And yet, the Saigon Zoo remains relatively the same. Its lush, tree-filled grounds have been a haven for carefree visitors for over a half-century, as exemplified by these photos taken in 1970 by visiting serviceman Carl Nielson.
We make no attempt to hide our conflicted love for the Saigon Zoo, and one of its many charms is how seemingly unchanged it is from its original construction in the late 19th century. By the time these photos were taken, the animal enclosures were already outdated, and the trees native to other regions of Vietnam were already decades old.
Ardent zoo visitors will notice a few developments, however. The back of the zoo stretching along the Thi Nghe Canal at one point didn’t have a fence, and thus offered great views of a much less-developed background. And while the zoo is currently home to many chintzy attractions, the “mini-cinema” viewer is no longer amongst them.
As the year’s outpouring of financial support during its financial difficulties proved, Saigoneers love their zoo and botanical gardens, and it’s unlikely the rumours of its demise will come to pass anytime soon. What better way to celebrate its enduring place in the city’s heart than by taking a stroll through it via these photos.