North Gyeongsang gov’t aims to open safari park

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North Gyeongsang gov’t aims to open safari park

North Gyeongsang Provincial Government announced on Thursday that it plans to open a safari park with 1,200 species of wild animals by 2020.

The local authority hopes to locate Baekdudaegan Natural Zoo within Baekdudaegan, a mountain range and watershed that runs across the length of the Korean Peninsula.

It is likely to be built near Andong in Bonghwa County and will cost 150 billion won ($130 million) to create.

The plan for the safari park will be discussed with the central government after a feasibility study has been conducted.

“The regional government is considering the safari park as a way to revive the local economy in the northern part of the province because it is difficult for the area to create a manufacturing industry,” an official from the North Gyeongsang government said.

An area for the animals, a bog and lodging for tourists will be included in the 294-acre park. Visitors will be able to travel across it by vehicle along a six-kilometer road (3.72 miles).

The animals released in the park will be chosen for their ability to survive in the area’s weather and at an altitude of 300 to 400 meters (984 to 1,312 feet).

Tigers, bears, long-tailed gorals and Chinese water deer are some of the species that will live in the park.

Some critics have expressed concerns over the announcement, however, including an environmental group.

“We are concerned that the forest in the area where the safari will be established will be destroyed,” Jeong Su-geun, an official of the Korea Federation for Environmental Movements Daegu said.

“In the perspective of animal rights, the idea to gather variety of animal species into one place is not appropriate because each animal has a different inhabited environment,” Jeong added.

In another part of the county, 20 kilometers away from the safari park, the Korea Forest Service is establishing a habitat in which 10 Siberian tigers will be released.

The county government has benchmarked safari parks in other countries such as Fuji Safari Park and Kyushu Natural Zoological Park in Japan and Siberia Tiger Forest Park in China ahead of the project.

It has also set a goal of ensuring Baekdudaegan Natural Zoo will be the best safari park in Korea by associating it with other arboretums, recreational forests and wild animal conservation centers across the country.

BY SONG YEE-HO [nam.yoonseo@joongang.co.kr]

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