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  #1
Medan Zoo (north Sumatra)
Old 23-10-2009

Visited 23 October 2009

My first day in the northern Sumatran city of Medan I of course had to visit the zoo to see what sort a place it was. I was told that it was quite a way out of town because the old zoo in the centre had been closed down and all the animals moved to a big new site about five or six years ago, which sounded very promising indeed. Lonely Planet calls the Medan Zoo an abomination and I was hoping that would prove to be no longer the case. However the person I was talking to also praised the way you could give the orangutans cigarettes and they would smoke….

On first impressions things seemed good at the zoo. When you come in through the gate it doesn’t even look like a zoo, just a big emptiness of grass and trees with a few horses grazing here and there. Waking to the right you soon come to the first exhibit, a row of pheasant aviaries containing domestic fowl, silver, Lady Amherst’s, golden x Lady Amherst’s, ringnecks, and blue crowned pigeons, as well as a few parrots and doves. There’s nothing wrong with these aviaries at all, perhaps a bit small but no smaller than you’d see in many private collections, and certainly a damn sight bigger than the ones at Bukittinggi zoo.

After these aviaries its quite a walk to the next lot of cages. These are also aviaries but look more like monkey cages (the sort of big ugly monkey cages you often see in Asian zoos). In fact they were so rusted, with holes patched up with misfitting mesh, that it looked like they were monkey cages that had been moved whole over from the old zoo site. Each of the four cages was divided in half, although the two halves of each contained the same birds on either side. The first aviary held Brahminy kites, the next three magnificent lesser adjutants, the third a blue and a green peacock, and the fourth was empty.

After a further walk you come once more to aviaries, these ones pleasantly constructed with green frames, although the interiors were pretty bare of furnishings that would have spruced them up nicely. There were four sets of these green aviaries, each consisting of fou separate compartments. The first held spot-necked doves, a lesser sulphur-crested cockatoo, another Brahminy kite, and a cattle egret. The second held a solitary purple heron in each of three sections and what I think was a changeable hawk-eagle in the other (although it was labelled as being an Aquila chrysaetos which is of course the golden eagle). The other two blocks contained domestic fowl, turkeys, guineafowl and a green peacock.

The curious impression one had gained thus far on the trip was that you were in one of those city parks that happens to have a few aviaries scattered around to add some interest. They were interesting, sure, but one didn’t get the feeling one was actually in a zoo at all. So far though it was all good, even if the second lot of aviaries had been very ugly and rusting, but what came next shocked me to the core. I rounded a bend in the path and saw two tiny cages standing on the grass, the sort of cages that you might put a dog in to transport it. Each of these cages held a Japanese macaque (of all things!). They weren’t isolated cages either. A few metres away were similarly tiny wire cages for an agile gibbon, a white-handed gibbon, a pair of silvered langurs, a juvenile siamang, and a pig-tailed macaque. I have literally, as far as I can recall, never seen cages this bad in any zoo (or pet shop, abbatoir, torture chamber) anywhere. The gibbon cages were the largest of the lot and they measured roughly five foot high, six foot across the front and three foot front-to-back. The siamang, appallingly, was incarcerated in a cell about three foot across the front and two foot high and wide. They were like the primate versions of home parrot cages. Every cage was on little legs and the food was placed on sheets of corrugated iron underneath so the animal reached through the mesh to get it. Every cage was mesh on all four walls and could be entirely surrounded if there were enough people. It was the most disgusting sight I’ve ever seen, and I think once I’ve uploaded photos (probably next month) they will be the most shocking photos of enclosures in the entire Zoochat gallery.

Amazingly, just ten or twenty metres away was another set of large aviaries. One of these aviaries, containing a single black eagle Ictinaetus malayensis (labelled as “Elanus coerulens” which is a mangled version of Elanus caeruleus, the black-winged or black-shouldered kite), could have housed all those primates and they would have had more room than they collectively had in the cages they were in. (Not that I’m suggesting they should all be thrown in one big cage, but you see my point). The other two aviaries in this block held five Brahminy kites (making eleven total for the zoo) and six Malayan porcupines Hystrix bracyurus. There were six porcupines (I think maybe all related given the way they were following each other round) and while I was delighted to see them because I like porcupines, and glad to see them in a very large (albeit entirely concrete) cage, it was horribly tempered by the knowledge those poor primates were going insane just metres away in their ridiculous cells. Another set of similarly large aviaries a bit further on contained two white-bellied sea eagles, more blue crowned pigeons and black-crowned night herons. But tellingly, between the two sets of aviaries was another one of those big rusty cages like the adjutants were in near the start which, although empty and overgrown, had an old label still on it for “lutung” which is the Indonesian name for langurs. It gave the distinct impression that all those big cages actually were where the monkeys and gibbons had been kept but for some reason they had been turned over to birds and the monkeys stuck in tiny cages, as if whoever ran the place liked birds a lot and was just keeping the monkeys there because the visitors expected them. I don’t know the truth because no-one knew or wanted to tell me why the primates were being kept in the terrible way they were.

The next lot of enclosures were a surprise in the exact opposite way to the monkey cages. Instead of being tiny and obscene they were large and wouldn’t look out of place in many Western zoos. There were four in a row, each identical in construction, being solid walls on the back and sides with a deep concrete moat at the front (empty, which was certainly a hazard to the animals, but it looked like they were meant to be water-filled). The first had at least one orangutan in it (hiding under a mound of grass against the wall); there definitely needed to be more climbing structures in here, instead of just the two poles and ropes with tyres, but there was lots of room. The second enclosure held at least one tiger; the third I could see nothing in but presume it to also be a tiger. Both these enclosures were grassed and had small trees in them. The fourth had a sun bear and was the poorest of the four, being smaller and entirely concrete (why do zoos always seem to keep bears on concrete?), and this was also the only one where the access gates to the off-display dens were shut, which meant the bear was forced to remain out with little in the way of shade. I roughly measured the tiger enclosure (by pacing it) at between 75 and 80 feet across the front, so a decent size (the other two large enclosures were the same size; the bear enclosure about half as big).

After all the preceding cages and avaries there was a whole lot of nothing, just walking past quite pleasant scenery, until arriving at the next animals, which were some average/quite good enclosures for deer (chital, rusa and sambar), with aviaries for mostly reptiles opposite: the first held a water monitor, the second a huge reticulated python, the third a mix of civets (a small-toothed palm civet, and some common palm civets that looked liked members of one litter), and the fourth was labelled as a cobra which surprised me that a cobra would be kept in an aviary-style cage, but it was in fact massive king cobra coiled up inside a tiny bird-cage placed inside the aviary. After that were a row of largish pens which appeared to be originally for crocodiles although only two still held these (one in each), another held a pair of common cassowaries (in very muddy conditions), and one was where the horses were stabled.

After a bit more walking you arrive back at the entrance with no more animals along the way. So that was the Medan Zoo on its larger site, a curious mix of good(ish), average, poor(ish), and downright obscene housing. All the animals were kept around the perimeter of the property, the centre being all trees and grass but of such rough terrain that it was not likely to be used for visitor recreation (such as picnics). Even with so few animals it took 1.5 hours to walk the circuit. There is so much potential for the site but so little being taken advantage of, although I suspect that money is an issue even though it’s a city-owned zoo. There was almost no-one there; it was Friday, perhaps weekends are busy, but there doesn’t seem to be any bus system to get there so you need to go by becak (the Sumatran version of a tuk-tuk). All up, I’d have to say that if the monkey cages weren’t there (i.e. if the monkeys were in some of the larger aviaries) and if some of the other cages were tarted up a bit then it would be an alright zoo, especially if the centre spaces were utilised for enclosures (but still retaining the open feel of the place). As it is now though, those monkey cages alone make it a disgrace and bring the whole place down.
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  #2
Old 23-10-2009

I found this image online, is it the same as what you saw



this may also be of interest

North Sumatra Animal Welfare: nsaw making enrichment for primates in medan zoo
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  #3
Old 24-10-2009

those are the ones, although the cages have been moved around a bit from these positions. The siamang is the one of the left in this photo, I think the white-handed gibbon in the middle and the agile gibbon on the right. The cage in front has the pig-tailed macaque in it.

I should also note that none of these were labelled, in fact hardly any of the mammals were labelled although most of the birds were. So the Japanese macaques I mentioned may have been some other species, though they looked exactly like Japanese to me and not like, for example, stump-tailed or bear macaques.
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  #4
Old 24-10-2009

I haven't time to read through the blog archive on the link although I will once I'm home, but as to the photos on that page (from last year): there was no sign of the food boxes on my visit, the first two photos are obviously from when monkeys were kept in the big rusty cages I mentioned (and no longer are), there is now no orangutan kept in the small cages (I only saw one orang, in the big open enclosure), and I'm not sure of the position of the last cage with the siamang (?) but if I saw it it didn't contain primates any more.
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  #5
Old 27-12-2009

Hi Chlidonias,

Salam Kenal (in Indonesian), My name is Sultan and i am one of NSAW (North Sumatra Animal Welfare) members, which recently joined NSAW, and just recently active as a volunteer in Medan Zoo, because last time, i was in Jakarta, Singapore and Malaysia as an Reptile Researcher and back for good to Medan because of business. I've recently knew this web, i think it's great and I'll keep update here about the Medan zoo progress.

I'd like to clear and made some explanation (no offense) for the post and give some of the facts and my point of view as listed below.

1. Lonely Planet calls the Medan Zoo an abomination and I was hoping that would prove to be no longer the case
- I'll try my best with NSAW to prove that this is no longer the case.

2. However the person I was talking to also praised the way you could give the orangutans cigarettes and they would smoke…
- This is a joke and that's really not true, in fact Bella (the female orangutan) right now is pregnant and we're expecting new baby in Year 2010, Personally, i'll give most of my time for this as this is a major issue right now

3. When you come in through the gate it doesn’t even look like a zoo, just a big emptiness of grass and trees with a few horses grazing here and there
- We're trying to build a petting zoo around here, with some small mammals such as rabbits, guinea pig and the fact that has been built is the dove box where the dove will be placed here and roamed freely, and visitors can feed them anytime at all(can be found at NSAW website)

4. There’s nothing wrong with these aviaries at all, perhaps a bit small but no smaller than you’d see in many private collections, and certainly a damn sight bigger than the ones at Bukittinggi zoo.
- This is donated by one the Bank in Sumatra called Bank Sumut, and i agree it's small to compared with western zoo, but my concern here is the conservations program, because many times all these aviaries has laid eggs but there's no nesting box here, so the eggs is abandoned here and there, so in each cages, there's a nesting box right now (just recently made after consulted with the manager of the zoo and as a direct order from him, for the eggs that's currently laid before the nesting box, we've put it in the incubator box (hopes to see some new babies soon, i think we'll see some by the end of the year or early January 2010), and this incubator box is also donated after we suggest and consulted it.

5. In fact they were so rusted, with holes patched up with misfitting mesh
- Totally agreed and i am so ashamed to agree with it but that's the fact. What we are trying to do here is to make this cage proper again by fixing things up, one things at a time, limited by fund and times, but main focus right now is the four cages for the primates as they are in urgently needed conditions. Help and support us, Good critics is great, but we can blame on whose fault, what we really concern is the animal welfare, they can't speak, so we'll speak for them. Personally, I've tried to push and force the zoo management a bit, but it's not much result. With NSAW, i hope to see more results in the year 2010, I'm really touched and had the same feeling as yours for the primates kept in here. Lots of things to do here, so little time and funding. Suggestion and Critics are really needed and welcomed here, let's help each other for this

6. it was horribly tempered by the knowledge those poor primates were going insane just meters away in their ridiculous cells
- This is the first priority for NSAW right now, this is intolerant, and we'll really push and fight for it. A little history why they ended up in the small cages is because the enclosure before has broken down, so they have to be moved in isolated cages, when the real enclosure is being fixed, but i don't really exactly know what happen why it stuck so long that they have to stay in that small horrible cages for so long time. From my point of view, it's more because of birocracy thing, but this is way out off track. When i first volunteered in Zoo in November 2009, they're already there, and it really made me cry when i first see it, so that's why until now i am still continued as a volunteer and joined NSAW to fight for it because my first project as volunteer is about the King Cobra which has been moved to new cages but still not enough. First, i really blamed them too, but later on i found out keep blaming is not a solutions, it doesn't fix anything, the primates will still be there if i don't do some real actions. Next, i found out, it's not really easy to co-operate with some of the zookeeper, but that wouldn't break my spirit, I'll keep continued fighting for these no matter what happen until they receive their rights. Will the fellow members and people in here helps me ? I really need all kind of support now.

7. About the porcupines
- OK, this is nice, but more hiding box is needed, this is what i am trying to build using wood and bamboos yet i still have to fight for it, some people are just not really happy when we're trying to help, i don't know what's wrong in their mind, i volunteered with no single cent paid, i try to fix thing even though there's no fund from the government or the management using nature's material like old dead tree and unused bamboo, it's still very hard to get the permission. OK, i am not blaming or bad mouthing here, but at least cooperate with us, there's no harm here, and i am not asking a single thing here not even a single name listed there. In the mean time fighting for the primates, I'll keep pressuring the permission to do it.

8. About the orangutans.
- Same old issues as above, more enrichment, so many thing, so little time, no funding, still have to do it.

9. About the SunBear.
- Same thing, enrichment, more woods, the bedding is not suitable as they hate concrete, need one big comfortable shelter. got the idea and all the things listed out and planned, event the diagram, still again, birocracy problem like i am fighting for names or some political issues. I REALLY HATE IT.

10. About the Rusa Sambar
- Good news here, we've got new baby here on Christmas. A gift from Santa ho ho ho.... Very cute, will try to get some picture and posted it out. and the rusa jawa also got pregnant already (more than one) hope to see more coming ho ho ho..

11. About the King Cobra
- This is where it all get started, i was called in because i am a reptile researcher and they ask for my personal help to cure and transport it. When you first arrived, i think you still see it in the small bird cages right ? Now, it has been moved to the new cages, not sufficient but better that the small cages. Why not sufficient, because it's made of wire-mesh too, it caused an rubbing conditions to the mouth until now. But i see some progress here, it started eating, shed twice already, and active right now after cured from RI (Respiratory Infection) by being injected once done by me ha ha ha... This is my personal baby and a strong emotional connections is involved here. I haven't sexed it yet, because due to the stress conditions in the past for the king cobra, I'll do it soon, and right now measured, 3.7 Meters, in the curing process. I really hope to make this enclosure better, and sharing and educate the keeper more. The main reason most of the reptiles before me get abandoned and little care to them is because the phobia or scared factor. OK, King Cobra is highly venomous and risky at one side, love and duty at the other side. Second reason is because the lack of knowledge. Now, they're better in reptiles sections, King Cobra is in curing, The Huge Reticulated python is being cured from the mites, Varanus Salvator (Water Monitor) is suspected gravid now after the cage has been reconditions (still have to do more better). and We've new collections in the zoo. The Blood Python ho ho ho... Hope to move the civets to the new places, so that sections is clearly reptiles only.

12. About the general.
- Husbandry and Cleanliness is the main concern for me
- Food Nutritions and enrichments
- Educations Board is the main issue to educate visitors (hope to get sponsors for this
- Harmless show is in process now, such as taking picture or photo with the Reticulated Python measured 4.5 M here named Boncel, Boncel is a very nice specimen to work with, very co-operative, maybe the emotional conditions and connections. Don't see it the bad way please, the show is really harmless to the animals, maximum 1 hour only for showtime, each session 15 minutes only, with 5 minutes break for the snake and only available one day in a week in good weather conditions, when Boncel is not in shedding time, not after eating and in fit conditions.
- Why less visitors, because visitors feel bored, no attractions, no educations, nothing they can get in return
- Why short of income, well, the entrance fee is Rp. 4.500,- (around 50 cents i think in US currency), how could it cope with the expenses and some more it's more into the remote places, but i think this is reasonable and i can live with it.
- There's a public bus now from lot of places to here already now


That's my short updates, will posted something more after i finished my volunteer sessions, nice to meet you guys, keep supporting us and help us.

Cheers,

Sultan
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  #6
Old 28-12-2009

ok, harmless show as pointed before, will no longer be continued by me, as i don't think this will bring more benefit for the animal welfare rather than the showbiz. I am sorry, but i will do another way to do the right thing.

Cheers,

Sultan
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  #7
Old 28-12-2009

hi Sultan,
I think its great that in at least this Indonesian zoo there are concerned people trying to make the lives of the animals better. As I said in my review, the Medan Zoo has great potential and only a few of the cages are truly awful.

I have one major question for you, and that is why cannot some of the birds be moved and the monkeys housed in the very large aviaries? It seems like a very fast and easy way to immediately better their living conditions. Surely the zoo's management can see this?

re the porcupines, I definitely think the addition of natural gnawing materials (bamboo etc as you say) would be a very good idea. A substrate (eg sand) would also be a good idea so they're not on concrete all the time, but I realise this does also increase the work the keepers need to put in to keep the enclosure clean and it would need to be replaced fairly often.

Keep up the fight.
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  #8
Old 28-12-2009

Hi Chlidonias,

It's really great that there's some response that i can have suggestion and sharing with.

About moving the birds to other enclosures, and the monkey to be moved to the aviaries enclosure, it can be done as long as the whole block is being moved, if not, does it will cause more stress to the neighbor (other birds) ?. Another thing to be considered is if there's enough good cage (not broken) for the birds. But I'll gather the data and do something with it in the meantime after 3rd of January, as I'll be traveling to Danau Toba on the 2nd.

For the porcupine thing, i think it's the keepers duty to clean and maintain it all the time, as that's the main job of the keepers. So, yeah, I'll definitely go for it and do something, as i have more time already, because I've stop the snake show thing.

Cheers,

Sultan
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  #9
Old 28-12-2009

Hi Sultan,

Thanks for the review. I agree with your comments and arguements re. funding. I personally do think every "western" zoo should adopt one of their "less developed" collegae zoos in situ. In terms of animal exhibits, husbandry, general animal management practice et cetera.

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  #10
Old 28-12-2009

here are some ideas for moving the monkeys (I hope my descriptions are not too confusing, involving as it does several sets of aviaries...):

1) Near the start of the zoo are the big rusty aviaries for Brahminy kites, adjutants and peacocks. There is one empty one here as well -- can it be patched up and the other Brahminy kites moved there from the aviaries by the monkeys? That frees up one aviary for the monkeys.

2) move one of the purple herons into an adjoining aviary with one of the other herons, then move the black eagle to that aviary. That frees up a second aviary for the monkeys.

3) put the crowned pigeons and night herons in one aviary - there is enough room and the two species should be fine together (so long as the pigeons aren't breeding because the herons will eat the eggs, but don't worry about that for the short term), and then move the porcupines to the crowned pigeon aviary. That will give you three large empty aviaries in a row for the monkeys. Potentially you could also put the purple heron I suggested moving earlier, in with the pigeons and night herons, at least to trial the combination.

4) as for the monkeys, you could trial putting the three macaques together in one aviary. You could trial putting the white-handed and agile gibbon together in one cage. The siamang can go in the third aviary. That just leaves the silvered langurs. How badly damaged is the old langur cage between the two sets of aviaries? Can it be fixed up and the langurs put back in there?
The above suggestions would mean ALL the primates would then be in large cages. Of course the macaques may not get on together, and the gibbons may not get on together, but its worth a try. And even if it doesn't work out exactly, at least some of the primates will be better housed (I would suggest the gibbons need bigger housing the most urgently, in particular the siamang)

I hope that all made sense
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  #11
Old 28-12-2009

Sultan,

Chlidonias first stop gap measures are the best options I guess.

Long term you would have to investigate what kind of funding mechanisms might benefit the Medan Zoo, in particular State and Municipal Council. PKBSI is the Indonesian Zoo Association and you might want to enquire viz funding too.

What long term objectives? I would hope a Masterplan and collection plan to assist the zoo to focus its activities to local conservation issues on Sumatera and cement relations between ex situ and in situ. That would need to include more naturalistic enclosures for the current collection and a programme of structural improvements.

Animal welfare - husbandry practice are further areas for improvement. Again enquire also with PKBSI what arrangements are in place (re keeper training, behavorial enrichment, animal husbandry upgrade courses) before making further suggestions.

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  #12
Old 28-12-2009

Thanks for the fast and great idea Chlidonia,

First, the enclosure that mentions to be patched is actually already in progress, but what a shame for me to said that it's very slow, I've actually asked from the contractor what takes it so long, and the reply was "the fund hasn't been paid". And there again I meet a dead end, but on Saturday and Sunday when I was there, I saw some workers doing the patching up thing, so I guess it's back on track, but still for me it's too slow, as in the contract with the contractor I guess it's included the silvered langurs cage, and this Wednesday I'll be there again to see what progress has been made, and from now on, I'll try to put some pictures up and post the progress here. For short, I'll bring this idea up on Wednesday with the head of the Zoo, and please pray together that I'll get the green light and get done on the same day. But what i can't agreed is putting together the japanese macaques and the other macaque together, I've seen and observed that the japanese macaques has been so stress and so agile to do anything bad. But at least, if it's done on wednesday, japanese macaque, siamang, and white handed & agile gibbons got new better temporary homes. Thanks for the suggestion and advise Mr. Chlidonias.

@Kifaru Buwana: Well, PKBSI is the association, and I've seen and one of the NSAW team has met with the head of PKBSI before, but then he's too busy on helping the Siantar Zoo, and there's something I can't put in word here, maybe we can have a word in private ? Well, for long terms, i don't even dare to think too much about and share it yet, as you know, it's like a dream if it ever come true. The path is so long, but i believe it will be as long as we'll never give up and keep it on track, could you give some suggestion and help ? Because first, i am not really too experienced in zoo management thing, and second, i was a volunteer only for the King Cobra before, but seeing the conditions of the other animals there, It really caused me a nightmare and can't sleep at night, my heart was touched seeing the gibbons playing with me before, the elephant asking for food, and it give me worries at night, what will happened if they get sick? will someone noticed and help, what if they got hungry this and that?

Then, right now i can't ignore it anymore, because there's 3 baby Asian Leopard Cat (Felis bengalensis) in my home now, ages around 14 days today. It was brought in to the zoo by an unknown person, and the head of the zoo asked me to take care for them in the meanwhile, because of those major issue they're having now and then bring back in to the zoo when they're old enough, but then starting from now, I've to plan for their enclosures in the zoo already as they really are like my kids already, playing with my daughter and wife, hand reared them and curing for the wound in one of the ALC (it was wounded already when brought in). Luckily I've met with a Czech Republic Citizen who's willing to adopt one the ALC, and will donate some money for their enclosures.

First when the ALC being brought in, they barely can see yet, and now, they're running and I've seen the canine teeth starting to grow. This is one happiness that I won't exchange with anything in this world.

Below i attached some picture from the ALC, hope it describe more than a thousand word.

Petra, Named after the donator, seeking for the nipples from my wife's hand, waiting for her turn being breast feed.



First Feces that they had after 1 days in my home



Dul, One of the ALC, which is the most aggressive but very smart. Noticed the wound near the neck, Day 0 at my home, being breastfeed. Now, the wounded is in progress to cured, and the open wound has closed, left the scar tissue.



I believe it's the best Christmas gift I've ever received even i am not christian

Cheers,

Sultan
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  #13
Old 27-04-2010

I've finally got round to uploading photos: Medan Zoo Gallery
I think most will probably agree with my assessment from the initial post in this thread, of the cages being "a curious mix of good(ish), average, poor(ish), and downright obscene housing"
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  #14
MEDAN ZOO
Old 02-06-2012

Reminds me somewhat of Basildon's Cages.




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Originally Posted by ZYBen View Post
I found this image online, is it the same as what you saw



this may also be of interest

North Sumatra Animal Welfare: nsaw making enrichment for primates in medan zoo
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  #15
Old 04-06-2012

Medan Zoo is bad, but did anyone ever visit the best zoo in North Sumatra, Siantar Zoo? (Taman Hewan Pematang Siantar) the zoo located in Pematangsiantar (about 3 hours from Medan by automobile) and it claimed itself as one of the best zoo in Indonesia.
 


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