The Beijing Zoo is best known for its collection of rare animals endemic to China including the Giant Pandas, which are zoo's most popular animals, the golden snub-nosed monkey, South China Tiger, white-lipped deer, Pere David's Deer, crested ibis, Chinese Alligator and the Chinese Giant Salamander.
Other endangered or threatened species include Siberian tiger, yak, Przewalski's horse, snow leopard, Tibetan gazelle, and kiang. The zoo also has a broad collection of megafauna such as lion, jaguar, clouded leopard, Asian and African elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, black bear, polar bear, tapir, sea turtle, penguin, gorilla, chimpanzee, kangaroo, muntjac, addax, zebra, otter, bat, flamingo and lemur.
The Beijing Zoo has 13 of the world's 15 species of cranes. The zoo was originally an imperial manor during the Ming Dynasty. It was part of the estate of the general Fukang'an during the Qing Dynasty. In 1906, the Imperial Ministry for Agricultural, Industry and Commerce established an experimental farm, which held a small menagerie.
The Viceroy of Liangjiang, Duanfang, purchased a batch animals from Germany and deposited them there. The animal collection attracted great interest when the farm opened to visitors in 1908. The Empress Dowager and the Emperor Guangxu both visited the zoo twice. The farm was known as the Wanshouyuan or the "Garden of Ten Thousand Beasts".