I have been to Malaysia many times, but somehow have never made it to the Taiping Zoo. It is the oldest zoo in the country, having being opened in 1961, and yet was supposed to be amongst the best in Malaysia (and Asia) so this trip I made sure I got there. I was in Penang at the time and decided to go as a day-trip because it is only two hours away. For some reason there are no direct buses to Taiping from there (or from Kuala Lumpur, for that matter) - instead you need to take a bus to the town of Kamunting which is a nothing-place 5km from Taiping itself. I don't know why the buses don't just go that extra distance. The zoo is actually only 5km from the Kamunting bus station. You could walk it, or take a taxi which would be faster, but I took a local bus first to Taiping (fifteen minutes), where you are still 5km from the zoo but in the other direction, and then the bus number 20A which stops right outside the zoo gate after a ten minute ride. I was only waiting ten minutes for the 20A bus when going to the zoo, but going back in the other direction I wasn't so lucky. A security guard outside the zoo told me there would be a bus in thirty minutes. After thirty minutes, no bus. Forty minutes, no bus. When I'd been waiting an hour I decided the bus had obviously stopped running for the day and started walking to Kamunting (because there were no taxis passing by either). Just five minutes up the road, the bus came along. It turned out they only run every hour and ten minutes. (Extra side-note: if coming from Penang, the first bus doesn't leave until 9am or 9.30am so you're not likely to get to the zoo until around midday. The last bus back is between 6pm and 7pm. The zoo is also a Night Zoo but there was nothing extra there to see which would induce me to bother doing Taiping as an overnight trip). The zoo isn't very big - only 34 acres - and it is designed entirely around a winding loop road, so it is very easy to walk around and not miss anything. There's a shuttle too, but it's not necessary unless you're infirm. It didn't take me long to get round the zoo, partly because it isn't very big, partly because I don't stay long at the enclosures for uninteresting animals like elephants or tigers, and partly because there were rather a lot of unoccupied enclosures. It is definitely a great zoo, quite possibly the best in Malaysia, and easily in the top rankings in all of Asia. It certainly doesn't look like it hails from 1961. The grounds are fantastic - all jungle - and I saw three species of wild monkeys while there (crab-eating macaque, southern pig-tailed macaque, and dusky langur); there can't be many zoos in the world where that is possible. A lot of the enclosures are cages, but almost all are at least "large" in size, many of them very large, and many of them also glass-fronted. Recently (in the Penang Bird Park review) I commented on how in the tropics there's nothing that can be done about the glare issue off glass or wire apart from putting awnings in front of the cages. That is exactly what Taiping Zoo has done, and it works brilliantly. No glare. Even the glass-fronted cages had perfect viewing. A lot of the open enclosures had awnings or viewing shelters as well, so you don't need to be standing in the sun all day. There are very few reptiles at the zoo, and all are in large open enclosures (for the crocodylians) or glass-fronted "aviary"-style cages. Birds are scattered through the grounds although there seems to have been a definite decrease in the last few years. The stand-alone aviaries are pretty standard, some of them empty (the one labelled for blue peafowl had been crushed by a fallen tree!). There are two walk-in aviaries and a walk-through aviary. All were closed and the doors padlocked. The one labelled as the Amazon Aviary, which was amazingly lush, looked completely empty of birds. Taiping Zoo does like its mixed exhibits. The first walk-in aviary you come to was labelled as holding lesser mouse deer, small-clawed otter, island fruit bat, lesser short-nosed fruit bat, green heron and black-naped oriole. The only species I could see (from outside the aviary, but I could see the whole area) were the short-nosed fruit bats, what looked like a greater mouse deer, a green heron, a cattle egret, and a couple of Asian brown tortoises. Another very large enclosure filled with jungle and glass-fronted (but open-topped) was labelled as holding dhole (which I saw) and binturong (which I didn't). This enclosure previously held "civets, leopard cats, muntjac, binturong and two porcupine species" (in the words of devilfish from his 2013 review). There is an amazing African Savannah exhibit, with flocks of greater flamingoes and yellow-billed storks gracing the shoreline, and giraffes, zebra and antelope in the centre (as well as wild dusky langurs in the trees in the middle). The grass in this exhibit is vibrantly green, and really the entire zoo is like being in a botanic gardens with animals. It actually is a "zoological gardens". The zoo's mammals are all housed well, although some enclosures are weaker than others. Gibbons are on large thickly-treed islands. Marmosets and tamarins are in large glass-fronted cages. The big cats are on large attractive "islands" (behind moats) and even the small cats are in quite large enclosures. I keep using the word "large" as a descriptive, which at this zoo is quite apt. In fact, if you take a look around the zoo at those mammals which always get the short end of the stick in zoos, at Taiping they are all well-housed (in varying degrees). The worst off are the sun bears and porcupines, and even those are better than what is normally seen. The bears' enclosure isn't very large but it is fully grassed and automatically better than the concrete dens generally seen in Asia. The porcupines are on concrete, but in much larger enclosures than is the norm. There is only one species of macaque here, a large troop of stump-tailed macaques, housed in a very large and tall cage with grass floor and climbing frames. The chimps and orangs have high climbing frames and reasonably large enclosure spaces. The hippos have a large "lake", although the land area is still small unfortunately. Even the common palm civet, usually seen in dark small cages, here has a large aviary-style enclosure. Of all the mammals, probably only the elephants were in a poor enclosure. It wasn't terrible, just too small for the herd and basically just a yard surrounded by concrete walls and a moat at the front. Really my only criticism of the zoo overall is that there were quite a number of empty enclosures, presumably where animals had died and not been able to be replaced for whatever reason. There was also a complicating issue in that the zoo is open at night, and there are some shift-changes in the cage occupants, so it wasn't always clear if a cage was completely unoccupied or simply that it just had no day-occupant. All the walk-in or walk-through aviaries (three in total) were locked up. One was almost bereft of inhabitants, one looked completely empty, and one was closed because it was the breeding season for the milky stork colony inside (which makes you question why have the colony in a walk-through aviary in the first place). Much more unusually (and somewhat aggravatingly) there were several identification signs still in place for animals which were long dead. The last flat-headed cat died last year, the last red hartebeest probably the year or two before that, and the banded palm civet and cassowary several years prior - yet all still have signs in place. In the case of the banded palm civet the cage itself was gone, so there was just a sign standing uselessly in front of concrete foundations surrounding undergrowth. The red hartebeest (labelled as being in with the white rhinos) was particularly galling because I have never seen a hartebeest. I've been to some other zoos where large numbers of empty cages ruined the visit (recently Songkhla Zoo and, less-recently, Melaka Zoo) but here - while the absent animals were noticeable - it didn't detract too much because the grounds of the zoo itself are so nice and the exhibitry is much more appealing in total. It is definitely a zoo I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to anyone.