Animal Lover Has Spent the Last 30 Years Running “World’s Loneliest Zoo”

Luo Yingjiu, an 81-year-old man in China’s Hubei Province, has spent the last three decades of his life taking care of sick and disabled animals at the “world’s loneliest zoo”.

It was during the 1980s that Luo Yingjiu started buying animals and taking them home with him. He wasn’t doing it as a pet collector, but as an animal lover sick of seeing all sorts of disabled and visibly sick creatures being kept in cages and sold on the streets. So he bought them and took them home with him, where he did his best to nurse them back to health. The lucky ones that made a full recovery were eventually released back into the wild, but some were in such bad shape that they required constant care and attention, which Luo was more than happy to provide…

In just a few years, word around Luo Yingjiu’s home city of Enshi got out that he had turned his home into a shelter for sick and disabled animals, and he was eventually approached by the local government. Keeping so many animals in his home was considered unhygienic and problematic for the entire neighborhood, so they offered financial him financial assistance to establish a proper animal shelter. That’s how the world’s loneliest zoo was founded.

Located in Phoenix Mountain Forest Park, central Hubei Province, Luo Yingjiu’s small zoo officially opened to the public in 1989. In its heyday, it featured all sorts of exotic animals, including a tiger with an amputated tail, and a lion whose hair had fallen off almost completely. But the zoo never really grew in popularity. On the contrary,, because it only housed old, sick and disabled animals that no one really wanted to see, people stopped coming after a while.

Today, Luo Yingjiu is lucky to sell one ticket per day, even though it only costs 10 yuan ($1.60). Still, he continues to run the “world’s loneliest zoo,” using his modest monthly pension – around 3,000 yuan (US$475) – to buy food and medicine for the animals.

“It is not just a zoo, it provides the habitat for the animals,” he reportedly tells people advising him to close the place down and live out his life in peace. “If the zoo is closed, where can those animals go? They can not even survive in the wild.”

Luo currently has abandoned dogs and horses, monkeys and even a black bear with only one paw in his care at the world’s loneliest zoo, and he does everything he can to make sure they have everything they need. He buries those who die on a nearby hill, and claims to remember the name of every animal he has ever cared for.

“Animals and humans are born equal,” the octogenarian said. “We should respect animals’ right to survival and respect their kindness towards this world. We should hold them in awe.”

Luo’s granddaughter helped him open an account on Chinese video-sharing platform Bilibili, and as more people came to learn about his shelter and the work its creator has been doing over the last 33 years, perception about the world’s loneliest zoo started to change.

“I am a native of Enshi and I work in another city. I visited that zoo when I was a little kid. I thought the zoo was cheating us of our money by showing injured animals. I didn’t expect the story behind it to be so touching,” someone commented on a video. “Next time I return to my hometown, I will visit the zoo again. I wish for grandpa to stay healthy and hope his situation will improve.”


Luo Yingjiu is just one of the many exceptional animal lovers we have featured on Oddity Central over the years. The incredible Dog Father comes to mind, but there was also the Buddhist monk who saved tens of thousands of dogs over nearly three decades, and Serbia’s kindhearted Sasha Pesic.