Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Chicken Coop

Not far from the entrance to the Chongzuo EcoPark there is a collapsing cinder block building that once served as the living quarters for biologist Pan Wenshi and his students.
I’ve seen animal enclosures in Chinese zoos that are nicer than this.

The building—an abandoned army barracks—had no running water, no electricity, no door, and a gaping hole in one wall. Pan’s bed, shown here, was a thin wicker mat laid over a row of boards. Stumps and logs were used for seats and benches. Field notes were compiled by candlelight, and when it rained, water flowed into the building.
In 2000, the county government took pity on Pan and, to honor what he'd done for surrounding villages, they spent $1 million on park improvements, including a rather architecturally inspired research facility and living space.
Until recently, the cinder block building and its Spartan furnishings served as a museum of the not-so-good-ol’ days of '96 to '00. Since my last visit, it received a long overdue conversion to its current use; a chicken coop.


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