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Melaka Butterfly Park Melaka Butterfly Park visit, 2 May 2014

Discussion in 'Malaysia' started by Chlidonias, 2 May 2014.

  1. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    In 2011 I had attempted to visit the Melaka Butterfly and Reptile Sanctuary (Taman Rama-rama & Reptilia), although I think it may have had a shorter name then. It is situated about 2km up the highway from the Melaka Zoo and the Botanic Gardens, on a small side-road about 100 metres to the right before the toll gate on the highway. If you're coming from Melaka by public bus, the bus turns off to the left a short distance before the toll gate, and they will drop you off at the corner. In 2011 I had a pamphlet from the park, written instructions found on the internet, and a mental map courtesy of Google Maps, but apparently a total lack of luck. The guards at the toll gate had never heard of the butterfly park and after wandering around fruitlessly for a couple of hours I gave up. It didn't help that the road sign arrows to the park pointed in every single possible direction!

    This time, with exactly the same resources, I found it no problem at all! Life is funny sometimes.

    I'm really glad I made it to the park this visit. I can honestly say that it was better than the zoo, bird park and crocodile park combined! The park opened in 1991, the same year that Terminator 2 was released, so two great things happened that year! I was at the butterfly park for 1.5 hours, pretty much the same length of time as at the much larger Melaka Zoo the other day. It is a small site but they make the most of the space, everything is kept well, reptile enclosures were often large, everything was healthy, there were literally no cringe-worthy moments. Entry cost was 15 Ringgitts. Definitely recommended.

    The entry area after the ticket counter is a bit randomly arranged, with all sorts of lizards, some aviaries, a photo area, a small cafe – and then you enter the gift shop which is the real start of the visit. An hour later you are back in the gift shop again.

    The aviaries here are quite large. One had ten or eleven golden-breasted starlings which were unexpected. The others housed a good colony of lovebird mutations; peafowl mutations; blue and gold macaws; and palm cockatoos. There was also a palm cockatoo on a perch, and looking through the door of the photo area there was another gold and blue macaw and a Moluccan cockatoo.

    Most of the lizards in the collection were housed in this entry area, and all were housed well and attractively. The green iguana, Thai water dragon, basilisk and bearded dragons were all in very large vivariums, comparative to what one might expect; mid-sized tanks were for frilled lizards, plated lizards, a Mali uromastyx, and a lovely little horned lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum) – this was my first horned lizard and compared to his body size he was in an enormous tank. Really active and alert too, which was nice to see. In a row of small tanks were some smaller species and babies – tokay, New Caledonian crested, leopard, and frog-eyed geckoes (T. keyserlingii), collared lizard, pigmy bearded dragon (Pogona henrylawsonii), two species of curly-tailed lizards (Leiocephalus schreibersii and L. carinatus), and a couple of unlabelled toad-headed agamas. There was a cane toad (marine toad) in a tank here as well, one of only two species of amphibians in the whole collection (the other being horned frogs).

    Once through the gift shop the route is along a single path so no chances of getting lost or missing anything. First, before entering the butterfly area, were a couple of glass-fronted aviaries for roulroul (crested wood partridge), of which there were between ten and fifteen birds. These were a bit odd-looking, with the floor covered in straw like a hen-house, and various branches and pots, but the birds all seemed healthy and happy. The butterfly walk-through was great. Devilfish mentioned not seeing any Trogonoptera when he was here in 2013 but there were lots of Rajah Brooke's birdwings on my visit – most of them were dead it is true so I think they were probably all from the same batch of chrysalises. There were quite a lot of dead butterflies actually. I don't mean that to sound like a criticism of husbandry because butterflies obviously don't live very long, but in any butterfly house one of the priority jobs should be picking up the dead butterflies each morning because to your average visitor it does not look good to see so many dead ones lying around. That aside, the butterfly walk-through was nicely done and full of butterflies.

    Leaving the butterflies, you enter a “cave system” with some tanks in the walls. One of these was an open-fronted scorpion display! Innovative indeed. The scorpions (and there were quite a lot of them!) were giant forest scorpions, so pretty harmless but extremely impressive. The scorpions are kept inside the exhibit with a strip of “something” around the walls (I don't know what it was, some sort of resin which they couldn't get a grip on). Also in the cave was a tank for horned frogs (Megophrys nasuta) which was really the only exhibit in the place which I didn't approve of, it being very bare and unsuitable. It would have been far more effective to have displayed them in a leaf-filled vivarium to show how well-camouflaged they are! Outside the cave is another open-fronted exhibit (for giant millipedes) and some tanks for giant stick insects, followed by an enclosure for brown tortoises and a crystal rock. I'm not sure what the deal was with the crystal rock. It was a big rock enclosed within a plastic pyramid with a statue of a baby deer inside next to it, and there was a sign saying how it was a young crystal rock and had sat undiscovered in that spot at the park for years.

    Anyway, after the Emu Ranch and the Crocodile Village (two largish fenced areas for emus and saltwater crocodiles respectively) you enter the Koi River Valley which has garden beds and a koi-filled creek. This honestly looked like it is meant to be a walk-through aviary, but equally obviously it isn't a walk-through aviary because it is meshed in shade-cloth not actual mesh, and the sides are rolled up here and there and there are no doors. Still, it would make a great spot for a walk-through! There is a very large “aviary” sort of cage here for African hedgehogs – far nicer than the tiny little boxes often seen for these – then a smaller butterfly walk-through (not many butterflies in evidence), a heavily-planted glass-fronted aviary for blue crowned pigeons, an “aviary” for Indian star tortoises, and then you come to the next main reptile area.

    A corridor takes you past large attractive crocodylian enclosures (not the bare concrete and sand of other places!). Along one side is another view into the Crocodile Village from earlier, then American alligator and then false gharial. On the other side is first a rather weird pond for alligator gar (I got the impression this may formerly have been for something like otters) and then rabbits, and then a large well-planted enclosure for smooth-fronted caiman. At the end of the corridor is a pool for a huge arapaima (too big for my camera!).

    The cages which follow next I think used to be for mammals. They were all pretty large and were actual cages not big vivariums, so I don't think the various Burmese and reticulated pythons in these were the original intended occupants. This would almost certainly be where such former zoo inhabitants as flat-headed cat and smooth-coated otters lived. On someone's blog I also saw photos of a leopard and a Malayan tapir. When I was coming here I was crossing my fingers there might even be something as random as marbled cat! Certainly it is the sort of place where you would not be at all surprised to come round a corner and find a marbled cat staring you in the eye. And, more to the point, you would not feel depressed about seeing it here because it would (probably) not be being housed inadequately! On the other hand, the place does seem to have quite a turn-over of species, despite everything seeming healthy and well cared for. It's a bit of a paradox. As of today, the only mammals on display are hedgehogs and rabbits.

    The snake corridor wasn't really my cup of tea. There was nothing wrong with the husbandry and the tanks were almost all quite large, it was just that the insides were mostly entirely fake, the furnishings being mainly moulded resin or concrete apart for the branches. Species in this area were green tree python, blood python, yellow anaconda, Equatorial spitting cobra, albino cobra, king cobra, red-tailed racer, cave racer, Wagler's pit viper, green vine snake, various corn, milk and king snakes, a blue tree monitor, and a pig-nosed turtle (the only chelonian on display apart for the previously mentioned brown tortoise). Here also was the (in)famous walk-through “aviary” for mangrove snakes! There is a sign outside the door warning visitors not to steal or to try to touch any of the snakes, but there is nobody in attendance. The walk-through is a small well-planted room with a looping boardwalk. Most of the mangrove snakes were in a large interwoven cluster right above the walkway at my head height. Interesting concept. I'm not sure it would play well in, say, America or Europe!!

    After an aviary for sun conures you pass through the Museum (nice displays of dead invertebrates, some arranged in standard taxonomic lay-outs and others in naturalistic forest scenes), and then you come out into the gift shop.

    Definitely a place worth visiting if in Melaka, and somewhere that you should expect to see some surprise animals. If I come back to Melaka in later years I will definitely be returning to see what is there. If I were to rate it out of ten I would give it a high mark, probably up around eight or nine.
     
    Last edited: 5 May 2014
  2. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like a very intresting place !
     
  3. zooboy28

    zooboy28 Moderator Staff Member

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    'nuff said :p

    The Mangrove Snake walkthrough seems very dodgy to me. I don't even know if I could walk through it. Do you have a photo you could upload to indicate the proximity of the snakes to the visitors? If they are at head-height above the boardwalk, did you have to duck to get past them?
     
  4. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    oh for crying out loud, what is it with me and amphibian blind-spots?! I did much the same thing in one of the Chinese zoo reviews, saying there were no amphibians on display -- right after mentioning the tank for giant salamanders!!

    The mangrove snake walk-through was interesting but a tad unnerving, given that they are in fact venomous and were eyeing me up suspiciously (or at least they were watching me.....). And yes, I did have to duck (a bit -- mainly sideways) to get past them, but then I am taller than your average Malaysian visitor would be. I took a photo with the boardwalk and main snake cluster in the same shot, but I don't know how well it will come across; there's nobody in the photo for scale and the room isn't very large so it is hard to get a good view-point.

    I saw one couple walk in and the girl was straight back out the door within half a second! :D

    There's a photo already in the gallery here http://www.zoochat.com/1706/melaka-butterfly-reptile-park-walk-through-191842/ but there don't appear to be any snakes visible. However they would be round about the position of the top of the frame, and also here and there amongst the lower vegetation. One when I was there was about four or five foot off the ground and right next to the walkway. I will upload lots of photos of the whole collection when I have time.
     
  5. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    Indeed; I certainly would not be best pleased were I to be pegged by one of them.
     
  6. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    oh I wouldn't have minded too much if I had been. It would have given me something else funny to write about...
     
  7. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    You are not exactly in short supply of amusing things to write about as it is :p
     
  8. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    reviewing my photo of the walk-through, the snake cluster wasn't actually "right above" the walkway (as in, the centre of the walkway), it was above the edge of the walkway. Still possible for me to have walked into it unsuspectingly and got a face-full of fangs, but not the way my phrase may have it imagined. I still had to duck sideways to avoid getting too close to them.

    I also have a photo of the warning sign, where the management decline all responsibility for mishap!

    I'll get the photos up as soon as possible in the next few days or so.
     
  9. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    I've finally got through uploading all the photos (in several batches). It has been nice putting up photos from a zoo where the animals are actually all well looked after and healthy! Lots of really nice lizards at this place.

    Melaka Butterfly Park Gallery