BONGHWA, May 4 (Korea Bizwire) — Visitors to the Baekdudaegan National Arboretum will soon be able to come face to face with Siberian tigers roaming wild in the 4.8-hectare forest, equivalent in size to seven football fields.
The arboretum celebrated its opening yesterday with a ceremony attended by over 1,000 people including arboretum officials and local citizens. The arboretum is managed and operated by the Korea Forest Service, a government entity.
Situated in the middle of Baekdudaegan Mountain Range, the National Arboretum is known as a rich repository of natural resources and is the largest park of its kind in Asia, and the second largest in the world.
The forest will also host 27 different garden exhibitions such as a children’s garden and a rock garden, and is home to 3.85 million plants and 2,002 different species. Its facilities will also include the world’s only seed vault, an educational center, a visitor’s center, and a tiger forest.
Visitors to the forest will be able to catch a glimpse of the tiger forest’s two tigers, 13-year-old female Han-cheong, and 7-year old-male U-ri released previously into the wild, starting today.
The tigers are 240 to 300 centimeters long and weigh between 200 and 300 kilograms with an average life expectancy of 20 years. The tigers are expected to consume 5 kilograms of chicken and 1.5 kilograms of beef daily.
Although the tigers will be allowed to roam wild in the forest during the day, they will be housed in a separate tiger pen at night. The forest has installed electric fences and 5-meter barbed wire fences to protect visitors.
At the opening ceremony, the arboretum signed MOUs with international institutions from which various plants seeds will be selected to be kept in the seed vault. The vault, taking the form of an underground tunnel, will be the world’s largest repository of wild plant seeds.
The arboretum will be free to visitors during its soft opening. When the park officially opens its doors, however, the entrance fee will be 5,000 won for adults, 4,000 won for youth, and 3,000 for children under six years of age.
Entrance is free for the elderly above 65 as well as those with disabilities and men of national merit. The Baekdudaegan National Arboretum hopes to become a place of culture and rest by “bringing happiness and healing people,” said Kim Yong-ha, the head of the arboretum.
M. H. Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)