The commemoration was held in the main entrance area of the zoo, located in the city’s downtown District 1, where Pierre’s bust is placed, said Huynh Thu Thao, chairwoman of the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens Company Limited.

A flower offering ritual among other ceremonial procedures was conducted in front of the bust to celebrate the 190th birthday of the first director of the zoo, who was born on October 23, 1833.

Previously, the personal details of the French botanist were engraved in French into the stele beneath the bust, which many visitors could not read, said Thao.

The zoo therefore recently added notes in Vietnamese to the lower part of the stele so that everybody can read the basic information about him, the chairwoman stated.

“Today is the birthday of the first director, so we offer him flowers to commemorate and show gratitude to him. This is also an action to remind his successors to preserve and promote the legacy he left behind,” said Thao.

The zoo was built in March 1864 under a decree of French Admiral Pierre-Paul de La Grandière, commander of French forces in Cochinchina, according to the zoo.

A year later, the facility was inaugurated and Pierre, who was director of Calcutta Botanical Garden in England at that time, was appointed to the post.

The zoo officially opened to the public in July 1869, about four years after its inauguration.

During his directorship until 1877, Pierre focused on infrastructure development and brought to the zoo many rare animals and plants he had collected from all over the world.

The botanist successfully planted many natural forest trees of Vietnamese species in the zoo and also brought in plants from Africa and the Americas.

From his efforts, an abundant botanical garden was born.

Right in the first year of his post, Pierre had cages built for birds and deer and called on people to contribute to the zoo the animals they caught, including those of rare and valuable species.

Currently, the zoo has over 2,500 trees of 360 species, including over 700 ancient trees.

The facility is also home to more than 2,000 animals of 135 species, including rare and precious ones such as pheasants, doucs, yellow-cheeked gibbons, golden deer, fire leopards, and clouded leopards, among others.

Pierre was also credited as the ‘father’ of thousands of ancient trees on many streets and in large parks in Ho Chi Minh City.

“When it comes to the precious flora and fauna treasure the zoo has today, it is impossible to forget the great contributions of Louis Pierre,” Thao said.

Pierre passed away at 72 on October 30, 1905 in Saint-Mandé in the eastern suburbs of Paris, where he was also buried.

At 159 years old, the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens is one of the eight oldest zoos in the world.

The zoo became a member of the Southeast Asian Zoos Association in 1990 and will celebrate its 160th anniversary of establishment next year.

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