My roommate laughed, telling me I looked like a panda in my Pambassador t-shirt and white sunglasses, as I set out to view the temporary 1600 Pandas display at Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial. The promise of 1600 pandas in Taipei on the metro convinced me visit the physical embodiment of a conservation message: only 1600 giant pandas remain in the wild.
Throngs of people poured into the space to see the papier-mâché pandas (and 200 Formosan black bears) lounging around in various poses and formations. Setting up the display was probably a lot of fun, and I heard that the positions of the pandas changed every evening to delight viewers anew for the next day.
Large giant pandas and Formosan black bears were stationed around the perimeter as another photo opportunity, and volunteers stationed next to a merchandise tent informed the public about conservation. Since my Mandarin is not so good, I mostly enjoyed the main spectacle. The 1600 Pandas display uniquely captured the public’s attention to inform them about the endangerment of a very special species.
Although the display is only temporary, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial is a popular tourist attraction all year round. Visitors are greeted by a commanding blue and white entryway with five arches, similar in style to the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall and library. Two symmetrical buildings, the National Theater and National Concert Hall, flank the park with golden roofs supported by red pillars.
The Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial is one of the most visited attractions within the Zhongzheng district, one of the best places to find hotels in Taipei. Nearby, you can also visit the Taipei Botanical Garden, 2/28 Peace Park, Huashan 1914 Creative Park and Nanjichang Night Market.