Taipei is a city of snake-like winding alleys and lanes that span the space between the major streets and roads. In fact, most of whats worth finding…the tasty restaurants, niche shops, and so on…are hidden in them. They are well worth exploring, especially in the more commercial areas of the city such as the area around Chungsiao/Fushing. There are plenty of little discoveries to make.
The Taiwan Insect Hall is one such little discovery, nestled 2/3 the way down a dimly-lit, narrow alleyway in the Daan Disrict, sort of near Daan Forest Park. If you have a child with an obsessive interest in creepy-crawlies, this is a must-visit. This is especially true for lovers of all things beetle, but they also have a good collection other insects along with lizards, snakes, and turtles. I even think I saw a pair of hedgehogs. Of course, all of those things and more can be seen at the Taipei Zoo and if thats all you want then I suggest you go to the zoo. What sets the Taiwan Insect Hall apart and makes it special is their education and involvement program for children.
Kids start by attending a free class held monthly all about beetles: their life cycle, reproduction, proper care, and so on. At the end of the class kids are given a beetle egg to take home. If you dont have a terrarium with a proper environment at home, you can purchase everything you need (which is how they support their non-governmental organization as they are a registered NGO). Once a month you are asked to return with your developing egg-come-larvae-come-beetle. A volunteer will weigh the insect, teach the child a little more concerning what stage of development the beetle is in, and so on. When your childs beetle has fully developed, they become responsible for recording feedings and (if you so choose) breeding.
Considering what devastating effect the popularity of beetles as pets has done to the Taiwanese population-at-large, this organization has developed a responsible and educational system for beetle-ownership. Before buying your child a beetle out of a birdcage stuffed with hundreds of them at a street market consider going here first. This kind of thing needs to be supported.
Ill end on some video footage from my visit.