Join our zoo community

Bukittinggi Zoo Bukittinggi zoo, west Sumatra

Discussion in 'Indonesia' started by Chlidonias, 20 Oct 2009.

  1. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member 15+ year member

    Joined:
    13 Jun 2007
    Posts:
    23,475
    Location:
    New Zealand
    Visited 20 October 2009

    The zoo at Bukittinggi in west-central Sumatra is, quite frankly, a place that I do not hesitate to call a disgraceful anachronism, a throw-back to 19th century menageries. I wasn’t expecting it to be a great zoo but I was hoping for at least something to appreciate about it. The only thing I can come up with that’s even close to praise however is that the tiger pits give the animals about as much room as seen in various Western zoos, and that the wallabies were on grass. Everything else I shall say is damning.

    The zoo itself is tiny, positioned on top of a hill in the middle of town. You could walk round the entire thing in less than half an hour and see all there is on offer. Apart for the aviaries and a couple of other cages for primates and binturong, every single enclosure is in the pit-style, surrounded by bars or spikes, and generally small and dirty. The aviaries can barely be called aviaries, being more like squared boxes of wire in which various species of pheasants pace a few steps in each direction (there were great argus, crested fireback, Lady Amherst’s, common ringneck, and Sumatran peacock-pheasant, as well as blue and green peafowl, guineafowl, domestic poultry, and a very few random other birds like a fire-tufted barbet, eclectus parrots and some purple gallinules).

    From the entrance the first enclosure/cage/pit/whatever you want to call it, housed four sambar deer, then there was a series of the completely-inadequate aviaries (when I have uploaded photos in the future you will see exactly what I mean!). A divided pit housed another pair of sambar with a fawn, a dromedary, and wallabies labelled as Thylogale bruijnii (not sure of that ID yet, will check before uploading photos), while opposite that was the elephant enclosure, pitifully small but as both elephants were chained in place I don’t suppose that really matters! More aviaries followed, and then a disgusting pit for a pair of Malayan tapirs which shouldn’t be anywhere near this zoo. A pit for wild pigs was next to that, not really too bad for them I guess, then the path trailed round the lip of the hill to an absolutely shocking concrete hole for sun bears that was more 18th century than 19th. An even worse one was to be seen a bit later (into which apparently a little two-year-old girl had fallen some time ago).

    Some more pits for reptiles at least gave them some room. There were kept here three saltwater crocodiles in one pit, two Tomistoma in two pits, a couple of tortoises and a water monitor. Next to these was a pit for two Australian pelicans of all things, with large mesh stretched over the top to keep them in (or keep people out). I’d love to know where these Indonesian zoos are getting all the Australian pelicans! It must be from Irian Jaya. Glass-fronted rooms nearby were partly empty (one was labelled “landak Brasil” which means Brazilian porcupine) but the others held a slow loris, an unidentified snake (with quail), and a couple of Asian porcupines.

    At the top of the hill were the pits for Sumatran tigers which, as noted, weren’t as bad as the rest of the zoo, being grassed and of a not-too-small size, as well as the second of the gruesome bear pits. The saddest part of the zoo by far though were the primate cages. There were six, three on one side for orangutans and backing onto them two for siamang and one for macaques. Bars and mesh with a few ropes made up the environment. One of the orangutans was a staggeringly massive male, by far the largest I have encountered in my life, but with the saddest eyes I’ve ever seen on man or beast. He honestly looked like if he had a rope he would hang himself. It was incredibly heartbreaking.

    Another not-so-nice part of the zoo was the zoological museum in the centre, which was basically a long glass-walled room that you viewed from outside and which was jam-packed full of mounted animals. Normally I like museums but I have no doubt at all that every one of the specimens displayed here (except the whale skeleton) were former inmates of the zoo itself. There were LOTS of siamang and various monkeys; several tigers, lions and orangutans; serow, goral, various wild cats, a couple of baby elephants, sun bears; Tomistoma and other large reptiles; and many birds including three cassowaries and a greater bird of paradise.

    The next zoo I shall be visiting, in a few days time, is the Medan zoo which even Lonely Planet describes as an abomination. If its worse than the Bukittinggi zoo then I shall probably join the orangutan on the end of a rope.

    Photos will be uploaded in a month or two.
     
  2. PAT

    PAT Well-Known Member 15+ year member

    Joined:
    16 Jan 2008
    Posts:
    1,557
    Location:
    Victoria
    I always amazes how these sort of zoos in Asia have species that other zoos would do amything for and they're just in pits and cages.
     
  3. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member 15+ year member

    Joined:
    13 Jun 2007
    Posts:
    23,475
    Location:
    New Zealand
    I did actually think of something about the zoo that I could put in the "good" basket:there are rubbish bins all round the zoo and signs saying not to litter -- not that anyone takes any notice of them, it being Indonesia.
     
  4. Steve Robinson

    Steve Robinson Well-Known Member 15+ year member

    Joined:
    27 Jun 2007
    Posts:
    1,869
    Location:
    Pilton Queensland Austr
    Thank you for making the effort to share your impressions with us Chlidonias.

    Between you and Peter Dickinson we are able to gain an informed impression of some collections that I, for one, have never heard of.

    What is the ownership stucture of a zoo such as you have described here - private, municipal, trust?
     
  5. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member 15+ year member

    Joined:
    13 Jun 2007
    Posts:
    23,475
    Location:
    New Zealand
    I believe it is owned and run by the city (in other words, government money). I'm not sure there is such a thing as a trust in Indonesia as far as zoos go (or if there is, it must be rare)
     
  6. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member 15+ year member

    Joined:
    13 Jun 2007
    Posts:
    23,475
    Location:
    New Zealand
    speaking of which, I think this may be a Siberut Island macaque Macaca siberu unless anyone can say otherwise
    http://www.zoochat.com/755/what-macaque-112211/
     
  7. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member 15+ year member

    Joined:
    25 Jan 2006
    Posts:
    12,492
    Location:
    Amsterdam, Holland
    Chlidonias,

    I would not say so. Siberut macaques have distinct white facial markings beside their eyes, it has a rather more slender built and the hair is not so dense.

    This macaque is definitely not M. siberu.

    K.B.
     
  8. phoenix

    phoenix Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    11 May 2009
    Posts:
    555
    Location:
    Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    thanks for bringing this to our attention chlidonias.

    whenever i visit these sorts of zoos my heart sinks - as i know myself, with what i have read in books and learnt from keeping regular pets - is 100 times more qualified to look after the animals that anyone who works there.

    the best you can do is at the end of your trip write an email, attach some photos and forward it to various other zoos, animal rights groups, government bodies in indonesia and NGO's...
     
  9. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member 15+ year member

    Joined:
    13 Jun 2007
    Posts:
    23,475
    Location:
    New Zealand
    ah well, back to the drawing board. I see the white face markings on the Mentawai site I linked to. The zoo animal is overweight though so the slender build of wild ones I think doesn't matter. Do you know if the Pagai island macaque looks like the zoo one, perchance?
     
  10. MRJ

    MRJ Well-Known Member 15+ year member Premium Member

    Joined:
    29 Jan 2008
    Posts:
    2,552
    Location:
    Melbourne
    Sounds like it has not improved a dot since my visit, now 25 or more years ago. Bukittinggi is such a nice area, I had fantasies about moving there to take on the zoo. I remember holding the hand of a Siamang in a tiny cage, deep sadness in it's face. Oh well. I mapped out in my mind where the new enclosures would go, and how they could be economically built. But instead I stayed home and eventually started Moonlit Sanctuary. It would have been a different life!

    BTW "Australian" pelicans have an extensive range including much of eastern Indonesia.
     
  11. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member 15+ year member

    Joined:
    13 Jun 2007
    Posts:
    23,475
    Location:
    New Zealand
    when I've uploaded photos you can have a look and see how if at all its changed.

    As for the Australian pelican, it is a common non-breeding visitor to Irian Jaya (western New Guinea), but only an occasional visitor to the islands further west (the Lesser Sundas and Sulawesi); hence my phrase "I’d love to know where these Indonesian zoos are getting all the Australian pelicans! It must be from Irian Jaya"

    The recent earthquake in western Sumatra affected many areas around Bukittinggi but not the town itself; but there was a big one here three years ago which destroyed several areas of town. There doesn't appear to have been much or any damage to the zoo at the time, unless they've rebuilt it exactly the same as it was. I guess that could be looked on as a shame, as if it had been levelled they may have rebuilt a better zoo on a larger site, as the Medan Zoo has done recently (although the "better" label probably doesn't apply there!)
     
  12. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member 15+ year member

    Joined:
    13 Jun 2007
    Posts:
    23,475
    Location:
    New Zealand
    photos now uploaded Bukittinggi Zoo Gallery

    many of the cages look much better in the photos than they do in real life, believe it or not. Bear in mind also that whatever species I saw at the zoo when I was there are not necessarily still there. Judging by the number of specimens in the zoo's museum (which I believe to mostly be former cage inhabitants), I suspect the turn-over of individuals and species is quite high. In the museum were a few exotic species (notably lion, cassowary and bird-of-paradise) and there were also a few in the zoo itself (such as dromedary, wallabies and Australian pelicans, as well as a sign for Brazilian porcupines), but the overall bulk of species were native Sumatran ones.
     
  13. MRJ

    MRJ Well-Known Member 15+ year member Premium Member

    Joined:
    29 Jan 2008
    Posts:
    2,552
    Location:
    Melbourne
    International Zoo Yearbook has this information if there is anybody on their staff who cares enough to answer the IZY's annual questionnaire. But more to the point why? It was a dreadful zoo when I visited 40 years ago and from Chlidonias's report 10 years ago it had not improved. Has there been some some recent revival in it's fortunes that justifies it being brought to the attention of the world?