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Taiping Zoo Taiping Zoo review, 31 May 2017

Discussion in 'Malaysia' started by Chlidonias, 5 Jun 2017.

  1. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    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.
     
  2. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    SPECIES LISTS:


    MAMMALS:

    *Asian Elephant

    *White Rhinoceros
    *Malayan Tapir
    *Common Zebra

    *Common Hippopotamus
    *Giraffe
    *Arabian camel (Dromedary)
    *Nyala
    *Red Lechwe (?)
    *Nilgai
    *Lesser Mouse Deer
    *Greater Mouse Deer (labelled but not seen in one enclosure; seen [probably] but unlabelled in another enclosure)
    *Sambar
    *Chital
    *Bawean Hog Deer
    *Common Muntjac
    *Southern Serow (labelled but not seen)
    *Gaur
    *Asian Wild Pig
    *Bearded Pig (labelled but the enclosure looked like it hadn't been used in at least a while)

    *Sunda Slow Loris (two cages but not seen in either)
    *[Brown Lemur was on some of the directional signposts but I didn't see any cages for them, and don't think they are still present]
    *Pigmy Marmoset
    *Common Marmoset
    *Red-handed Tamarin
    *Stump-tailed Macaque
    *Orangutan
    *Common Chimpanzee
    *White-handed Gibbon
    *Agile Gibbon (did not see any on display and also no enclosures were labelled for them - but they were on directional signposts, and I saw a number of gibbons in holding cages from a public path which may have been this species)
    *Siamang (the island labelled as holding them instead was home to a large breeding colony of wild Night Herons, so obviously hadn't held gibbons for quite a while)

    *Malayan Sun Bear
    *Dhole
    *African Lion
    *Malayan Tiger
    *Black Leopard
    *Clouded Leopard (labelled but not seen)
    *Serval (on directional signposts but I didn't see them anywhere. I think they are supposed to still be at the zoo though [EDIT: from reading some comments in the gallery on older photos, the Servals rotate with the Common Chimpanzees, being in the enclosure at night so not viewable by day)
    *Asian Golden Cat (not seen but I know they have two males)
    *Leopard Cat (the sole cage for them seemed unoccupied, but I know they have at least one)
    *Smooth-coated Otter (labelled but not seen)
    *Small-clawed Otter (none on display in the two enclosures they were labelled for, but I saw one in a holding cage from a public path)
    *Binturong (labelled but not seen on an "island" enclosure; labelled but not seen in with the dholes; one seen in a holding cage from a public path)
    *Common Palm Civet
    *Large Indian Civet
    *Small Asian Mongoose ("Javan Mongoose" on the sign. I didn't see any but they may have been hidden - they were in a very large planted enclosure with the Large Indian Civet)

    *Large (Malayan) Flying Fox
    *Island Flying Fox (labelled but not seen)
    *Lesser Dog-faced Fruit Bat

    *Malayan Crested Porcupine
    *Asian Brush-tailed Porcupine

    *domestic Rabbit

    *Agile Wallaby


    BIRDS:

    *Ostrich
    *Emu

    *Little (Green) Heron
    *Cattle Egret (unlabelled in one of the walk-in aviaries)
    *Black-crowned Night Heron (some in a walk-through aviary; also wild colonies in the zoo grounds)

    *African Spoonbill
    *Scarlet Ibis

    *Mute Swan
    *Black Swan
    *Magpie Goose (labelled but not seen)
    *Lesser Whistling Duck (labelled in a walk-through aviary but not seen)

    *Greater Flamingo

    *Grey Crowned Crane
    *Demoiselle Crane

    *Yellow-billed Stork
    *Milky Stork

    *White-breasted Waterhen (labelled in a walk-through aviary but not seen)

    *Blue Peafowl (labelled but not present)
    *Crested Fireback
    *Red Junglefowl (labelled in a walk-through aviary but not seen)
    *Malayan Peacock-pheasant (labelled but not seen)

    *Blue and Yellow Macaw
    *Green-winged Macaw
    *Citron-crested Cockatoo
    *Budgie
    *Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot (labelled on an old sign in a walkthrough aviary; not likely to still be present)

    *Spot-necked Dove (labelled in a walk-through aviary but not seen)
    *Nicobar Pigeon

    *Spotted Wood Owl
    *Buffy Fish Owl
    *Barred Eagle Owl

    *Black-naped Oriole (labelled in a walk-in aviary but not seen)
    *White-headed Munia
    *Baya Weaver


    REPTILES:

    *Saltwater Crocodile
    *False Gharial
    *African Dwarf Crocodile
    *Reticulated Python
    *Rhinoceros Iguana
    *African Spurred Tortoise (unlabelled)
    *Asian Brown Tortoise (unlabelled)
    *Red-eared Terrapin (unlabelled)
    *Amboina Box Turtle (unlabelled)


    ADDITIONAL:
    These species still had signs up but the animals were definitely no longer present:

    *Flat-headed Cat (died 2016)
    *Red Hartebeest (last one died before 2016)
    *Banded Palm Civet (died 2013?)
    *Cassowary (died ages ago, before 2013)
     
    Last edited: 24 Jun 2017
  3. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    I'd have been tempted to see if the sign was loose..... :p
     
  4. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    it wasn't - but the phrase comes to mind: "is that a stolen banded palm civet educational sign in your pants, or are you just pleased to see me?"
     
    FBBird, Coelacanth18 and Swampy like this.
  5. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    I am quite surprised the Taiping zoo does not exhibit any S.E. Colobinae (no Sundaic silveries T. cristatus, no duskies P. obscurus, no white thigheds - P. siamensis nor bandeds - P. femoralis)?

    Allthough, you mentioned wild duskies on site ... (any idea on numbers here)?
     
  6. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    no idea on total numbers. I saw one quite large group.

    But dusky langurs are pretty common in Malaysia, and Taiping Zoo is very close to Maxwell Hill where the langurs are common.
     
  7. Giant Panda

    Giant Panda Well-Known Member

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    Have you been to Bukit Maxwell Chli?
     
  8. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    not yet.

    (And, oddly, it is either Bukit Larut or Maxwell Hill, but not Bukit Maxwell. Unlike Bukit Fraser and Fraser's Hill. I'm not sure why. Maybe Fraser was more important than Maxwell).

    Name aside, it is one of the places in Malaysia to which I have always sort of planned on going but never got to. The vet at Taiping Zoo lives there (more or less) and sees linsangs at night sometimes. There are also marbled cats there.

    Recently I found out there are marbled cats at Bukit Fraser too, and even tigers have been reliably reported in the last few years which retrospectively makes my spotlighting endeavours there somewhat eerie.
     
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  9. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    Taiping Zoo is a zoo I'm keen to visit in the future so I enjoyed this review.

    Approximately how many Common Chimpanzee are at the zoo?
     
  10. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    no idea sorry. Chimps don't hold any interest for me, so I take a photo of the enclosure and move on.
     
  11. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    That's okay.
     
  12. Giant Panda

    Giant Panda Well-Known Member

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    TeaLovingDave and Brum like this.
  13. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    A) Never been to Boston
    B) I do have some sense of taste :p
     
  14. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    Is there a secret link we are passing over here?!?:D

    Lincolnshire now inside Perak State, Malaysia.
    You learn something every day!;)
     
  15. baboon

    baboon Well-Known Member

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    It is so pity that even Taiping Zoo has lost most of their native small carnivores: marbled cat, flat-headed cat, banded civet, and it seems that they also fail to breed their golden cats. I used to think Taiping was one of the best zoos in SE Asia for their efforts to breed and exhibit native small carnivores which were neglected by other Asian zoos, after the fall of Malacca Zoo.
     
  16. aardvark250

    aardvark250 Well-Known Member

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    So which zoo do you think now is the best with small carnivores?
     
  17. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    they bred their golden cats in the past, but their female died fairly recently. I think the second of their two males was bred at the zoo. They are trying to get a new female from another zoo but I forget which one.
     
  18. baboon

    baboon Well-Known Member

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    Oh that is great! Hope they succeed.
     
  19. baboon

    baboon Well-Known Member

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    I think Chiang Mai Zoo's small carnivore collection is fantastic: large-spotted civet, flat-headed cat and so on.
     
  20. aardvark250

    aardvark250 Well-Known Member

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    Actually i think chiang mai,dusit and khao khew all have flat headed cats.And pata have like linsang and ferret badger.seems like thailand have done a good job in small carnivores.