It is believed that the Dragon Boat Festival originated from the legend of the death of the poet and politician Qu Yuan, who drowned himself in the Mi Lo River in 278 BC.
No one seems to know why Qu killed himself, some believe it was because he despaired over the state of politics in his homeland. Others believe that it was because he believed it was a way for him to keep his innocence intact.
The reasons for Qu’s death aside, the legend states that the local people got into their boats to retrieve Qu’s body. Those who were not in boats threw dumplings into the water and beat drums to keep the fish away from his remains.
This is why the celebration includes boat racing and eating zongzi (rice) dumplings.
The Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated in China on the fifth day of the fifth month in the lunar Chinese calendar. Because of this, the tradition in Guangdong and Hong Kong is to eat food associated with the number five, such as the rice dish congee, made with five different types of beans.
The Shanghai Zoo served special zongzi to its animal inhabitants on Thursday, June 25, 2020, in celebration of the Dragon Boat Festival.
Zongzi are traditional festival food made of “glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in leaves.” The zoo’s zongzi were prepared with the animal’s dietary needs in mind. For example, Meerkats and fennec foxes received zongzi stuffed with canine food and mealworms. They were quickly eaten.
Galapagos tortoises ate zongzi wrapped with plantain leaf veins and bamboo leaves. Yellow-margined box turtles had shrimp zongzi.
Otters, once indigenous to Shanghai and East China, ate fish-filled zongzi and badgers had them filled with vegetables.
At the Shanghai Wild Animal Park in the Pudong New Area, animals enjoyed a banquet of zongzi.
African elephants eat zongzi filled with watermelon, wrapped by plantain leaves. Pandas ate the apple, banana, and raisin-filled zongzi.
Animal keepers at the wild animal park fed the raccoons zongzi filled with peanuts, red dates, and biscuits to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival.
By Jeanette Vietti
Metro: What is the Dragon Boat Festival and what food do people eat to celebrate the day?
Shine: Zoo critters enjoy festival feast zongzi
CGTN: Panda gets special feast for Duanwu Festival in SW China
Featured Image Courtesy of David Yu’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Top Image Courtesy of Ken McVay’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License