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Monday, 2 February 2009

The Saigon Zoo during the war





Photos courtesy of John Hansen
Saigon, late 1960s.

I can remember visiting the Saigon zoo once. I have no idea of what I saw and took no photos. It was one of the most miserable spectacles I had ever seen.

It reminds me of a house I stayed in briefly in 1968. This was run by Decca Navigator Systems for its personnel living in Saigon and working at Tan Son Nhut and for the odd person in transit.

People mostly had their own accommodation or stayed in hotels but the place had its uses. It was raided by the police in 1968 after the Tet offensive. About fourteen rifles and pistols were confiscated. The maids were arrested as the Decca people were at work. Not having been able to stop a battalion or two of Vietcong entering Saigon before Tet, the police, that is the White Mice, had decided to flex their muscles and become ‘The Mice that Roared’ and go around arresting as many of their allies as they could. A much softer target.

Anyway on the roof of a house nearly opposite a neighbor kept two orang outangs in two cages. These two simians (is that the word) howled from morning to night. Why the neighbours didn’t complain I have no idea. It was an even worse spectacle than the zoo.

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