After years of delay reportedly due to a lack of funding, Ho Chi Minh City’s safari park project has been handed over to real estate giant Vingroup, also the developer of the country’s first safari park in the southern island of Phu Quoc.
The group has been asked to put forward a detailed plan for the project, known as Saigon Safari, including a golf course, a hotel and an area for other outdoor activities. The plan should be available for assessment within the next month, the city government said.
The city started site clearance work in 2004, relocating around 700 families.
Little has been going on over the past ten years, mainly because the city cannot bankroll the ambitious project, which is expected to cost around US$500 million.
More than ten years of delay has caused frustration among the affected families, with many asking to return.
The 500-hectare park in Cu Chi District, around 40 kilometers from the city downtown, was scheduled for a completion this August. It is highly unlikely the deadline will be met.
Even as the project is incomplete, some animals from Saigon Zoo in District 1 have been relocated there due to their growing numbers.
Vingroup, whose founder Pham Nhat Vuong is believed to be Vietnam’s richest person, opened Vinpearl Safari Phu Quoc last December with around 3,000 animals of 150 species including those imported from South America and Africa.
The park in the southern province of Kien Giang was not launched smoothly as there were allegations that a large number of animals died after being transported there. But the group has denied them.
Lam Dong Province in the Central Highlands in April also announced a plan to build a 490-hectare safari park to the north of the resort town Da Lat as part of its program to boost tourism.