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Take a step inside the animal kingdom : Indoor zoos offer space for kids to get close to hundreds of creatures

Dec 23,2017
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Children visiting the Zoolung Zoolung Ilsan branch in Gyeonggi, pet a capybara at the indoor zoo. The zoo offers visitors a chance to get closer to the animals than they could at an outdoor zoo. [YOON SO-YEON]
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From left: a staff member holds a lizard at the Ilsan Zoolung Zoolung in Gyeonggi; Lee Su-in, director of Zoorarium, feeds a coati by hand inside the Hanam branch; visitors can feed finches inside Zoorarium Hanam. [YOON SO-YEON]
Every child loves going to the zoo with their parents on a sunny spring day, with picnic bags full of delicious snacks in hand. But during the cold winter days when it’s too cold for both visitors and animals to stay outdoors, that going to the zoo becomes a difficult task.

For animal lovers who’d like to have a day of fun regardless of the weather outside, indoor zoos are the place to go. Take a day to travel an hour outside Seoul to Gyeonggi, and animal lovers will get a chance to see their favorites up close and personal while staying indoors.

Contrary to animal cafes, which have become quite common across the country, these indoor zoos provide proper care and environments for the animals. Although the indoor zoos may not be as big as an average zoo, and may not have large animals like elephants or tigers, they are home to smaller and friendlier animals who are not afraid to come close to guests and eat right out of their hands, such as rabbits, parrots, turtles and meerkats.

Zoolung Zoolung

With two locations in Gyeonggi - in Hanam and Ilsan - and one in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang, Zoolung Zoolung offers the largest array of animals of the indoor cafes in the country.

The brand opened its first branch in Busan back in 2012, which closed earlier this year after its contract ended. Its second branch in Ilsan is now its oldest, having opened in 2014. Inside the zoo, there are over 600 animals for visitors to see as they walk through the theme park.

Staff members stand at each corner of the zoo to guide the visitors, helping them feed animals that are friendly to humans, such as guinea pigs, rabbits and parrots, or offer explanations about the animals you don’t get see in day-to-day life, like iguanas, snakes, fennec foxes, otters and small sharks. You can buy food at the entrance to feed the toucans with the assistance from the staff.

There are many opportunities for visitors to interact with the animals, such as feeding the birds by hand or petting gigantic snakes.

The two Gyeonggi branches are open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., but the final tickets are sold at 7 p.m. for Ilsan and 6 p.m. for Hanam. Tickets cost 15,000 won ($13.89) for two hours at the Ilsan branch, with 1,000 won for each additional 10 minutes, and 24,000 won in Hanam with the same additional fees.

Zoolung Zoolung Ilsan is a 15-minute walk from Juyeop Station, line No. 3, exit 4. The Hanam branch is a 5-minute walk away from Starfield Hanam. For more information, visit www.zoolungzoolung.com or call 1644-2153 and press 3 for Hanam, or 1 for Ilsan.



Zoorarium

For those looking for a more intimate and quiet space to interact with animals, Zoorarium is the place to go. If Zoolung Zoolung is an adventure for visitors, Zoorarium provides an in-depth, educational experience for those whole stop by its cozy space.

At Zoorarium’s two locations, in Hanam and Yongin, visitors can tour the zoo with staff who explain the natural habitats of the animals, and help people feed the animals by themselves. The Hanam branch offers a docent guided tour once a day, and three times a day during the weekend. With a slice of carrot or apple in their hands, visitors will see animals approaching them without fear to get a bite of their tasty snack.

Inside the Hanam branch is also a sheep who roams the space, and goats and pigs who await visitors to join them on a stroll. The Hanam branch is undergoing renovation at the moment, and when the construction is finished in January, the zoo will have new animals, including a chameleon. The Yongin branch will also be undergoing a renovation before the winter ends.

“We wanted to make a space for people to come in contact with the animals, and learn more about them too,” said Lee Su-in, director of Zoorarium. “We care about each and every animal here, but we also want to give people the chance to actually touch and become friendly with the animals. That’s why we offer the tours inside.”

The Hanam branch is open from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., with a guided tour at 5 p.m. on weekdays and at 12 p.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on weekends. Tickets cost 9,000 won for adults and 15,000 won for children. Reservations can be made online at www.zoorarium.com. To get there by public transportation, get off at Jamsil Station, line No. 2, exit 7, and then take bus No. 2000-2 and get off at the Misa-dong Entrance stop and walk five minutes.

The Yongin branch is open from 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. every day. Admission costs 7,000 won for children and 6,000 won for adults. Reservations can be made online, or at (031) 679-0654. Get off at Eojeong Station, on the EverLine, exit 1, and walk 10 minutes.

BY YOON SO-YEON [yoon.soyeon@joongang.co.kr]