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Zoo in Chengde Imperial Palace Causes Controversy

The Imperial Dwelling Palace at Chengde, in northeastern part of Hebei Province, is one of historical sites under the national protection and is also a precious world cultural heritage. Yet, a zoo has recently appeared inside the place, and to everyone¡¯s amazement, the developer of the project is the local cultural relics department.

The zoo has been developed by a subsidiary of Chengde Administration of Cultural Heritage. Without permission of any kind, the Wangyuelou Tower (Tower for Observing the Moon) area has been replaced by an aquarium, and the water pool has become a waterfowl pleasure ground.

According to China¡¯s Law on the Protection of Cultural Relics, any new project relating to the Imperial Dwelling Place at Chengde must be submitted to the State Administration of Cultural Heritage for examination and approval. When asked to give an explanation, a senior official with the Chengde Administration of Cultural Heritage said the zoo was more of a renovation project than a new construction, so no approval was required.

However, a senior official with the State Administration of Cultural Heritage said the aquarium was obviously not a temporary, small-sized facility, but a permanent one. Therefore, it violates the relevant cultural relics protection law. He said the administration would investigate and severely deal with the case.

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