A plan to redesign the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens by German architect Peter Rasbach has been approved by the zoo management and will next be submitted to the HCM City Department of Urban Planning and Architecture.

If approved the work is likely to begin early next year.

Pham Quoc Hung of the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens was quoted by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper as saying that the green areas and plants in the zoo would remain untouched while the animal enclosures would be rearranged to improve living conditions.

According to local architects, it is not easy to design zoos since architects should know about both animals and plants, something that Rasbach does.

The current layout of the zoo falls way below international standards. Following the renovation, African species like lions, rhinos, zebras, hippopotamuses, giraffes, and ostriches will be housed in places with a lot of grass.

The small elephant enclosure will be expanded, and there will be enclosures for new species like penguins and an aviary. Some species of birds will be housed together in future unlike now.

Officials have not disclosed the estimated cost of the upgrade.

Earlier zoo officials had rejected suggestions for moving the facility to the outlying Cu Chi district and decided to upgrade the existing zoo.

Rasbach's firm says on its website that it is "a German-based firm of architects and landscape architects that beside ordinary architecture has specialised in designing zoos, wildlife parks, aquaria and museums in Europe and abroad since 1992".

Elsewhere, the city is continuing with plans to set up a 485ha safari park in Cu Chi's An Nhon Tay and Phu My Hung Wards.-VNA