During the course of Chlidonias Goes To Asia, part 3: 2013-2014 CGSwans posted this: I'm very sure that I haven't seen more Asian zoos than any other Zoochatter, but nevertheless here is a list of all the Asian zoos I have visited ranked in order of best to worst, with the years of visitation and links to the relevant review thread if I have written one for that zoo. I have separated zoos from bird collections and from aquariums because you can't really rank the three against one another. Then there are a few random “other” collections at the end which don't properly fit with the other three so they aren't really ranked. It turned out to be a lot harder than I imagined to put the zoos in order. The very worst ones were easy, but all the rest are just really subjective and I have no doubt others who have visited the same zoos would rank them quite differently. It is also worth bearing in mind that because I have visited mostly Asian zoos over the years I judge them in a different way than a person coming straight out of Europe or North America might. Some zoos have no redeeming qualities whatsoever but for most I am judging them on Asia, not on the West. Many aesthetic conditions which would be considered bad or even unacceptable in a Western zoo are not really cause for comment in, say, Malaysia or India. Having said that, animal cruelty and bad husbandry are the same where-ever in the world a zoo is, so no excuses. UPDATE 1: I have added in a number of new collections visited during 2016-2017 (see here: Chlidonias Goes To Asia, part five: 2016-2017 - post #418) which meant re-jigging the whole list. As before, the rankings are entirely subjective and probably not very justifiable! UPDATE 2: I also made some changes in 2019, and moved the "closed zoos" to the bottom of the post. ZOOS: 1) Singapore Zoo (2004, 2009) – I have certain reservations about the many small enclosures here, albeit dressed up nicely with tropical vegetation to give the illusion of brilliance, but it is still the top zoo in Asia, probably thanks largely to Singapore simply being more wealthy and more Western than the other countries. Singapore Zoo - visit 19 September 2009 2) Naypyitaw Zoo (Burma – 2014) – a total surprise near the top of the list, and a stark contrast to other Burmese zoos. Spacious enclosures almost without exception. Boring species selection for me, but as a zoo it is fully deserving of praise, especially in light of the standard of the other zoos in Burma. I struggled not to put it above Singapore Zoo to be honest, but Singapore won out due to greater diversity, better visual appearance of the zoo as a whole, more reliability in staying good, and other such things. Naypyitaw Zoo - The Zoos of Burma 5: Naypyitaw Zoo, 14 January 2014 3) Taiping Zoo (Malaysia – 2017 and 2019) – it's a shame it took me so long to visit this zoo, easily amongst the best in southeast Asia. The oldest zoo in Malaysia but certainly not showing its age. Currently the diversity in the zoo is decreasing and there are a number of empty cages, but overall everything is housed well, enclosures are usually spacious, and the exhibitry is mostly great. Taiping Zoo - Taiping Zoo review, 31 May 2017 and Taiping Zoo species list, September 2019 [Taiping Zoo] 4) Schumutzer Primate Centre (Jakarta, Java, Indonesia – 2009) – embedded inside Jakarta's Ragunan Zoo but poles apart in husbandry and exhibition so there was no option for this list other than to treat them as separate entities. The centre specialises in primates obviously and all of them are housed well. The gorilla enclosure must be one of the best in the world. I really didn't know where to rank it amongst the bigger general zoos, so here is as good a spot as any. Ragunan Zoo - Ragunan Zoo visit, 27 September 2009 5) Vinpearl Safari (Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam – 2017) – a brand new zoo to the region and although it is clearly a "show zoo" rather than a serious endeavour, there has been a serious attempt made to create enclosures which are good for both visitors and animals alike. This hasn't always been successful, I think largely as a consequence of the rush to open. There are issues such as overcrowding, but in general it is a good zoo. Vinpearl Safari Review - 1st March 2017 6) Nakhon Ratchasima Zoo, aka Korat Zoo (Thailand – 2017) – one of the top group of Thai zoos. This is a very large zoo with generally excellent standards and a strong conservation ethic. There are some poor cages but only a few. However it was certainly not designed with "visitors arriving on foot" in mind! Korat Zoo - Review of the Korat Zoo - 17 May 2017 7) Zoo Negara (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – 2006, 2013) – another very good major zoo of the region. Still with a few awful cages when I visited but these are disappearing, animals more suitable for the enclosures are being sourced and the others moved elsewhere. They are doing what many other Asian zoos should be doing with their facilities. Zoo Negara - Zoo Negara visit, 15 Dec 2013 8) Chengdu Zoo (China – 2013) – a most excellent Chinese zoo, far ahead of Beijing. In fact a zoo one might be happy with visiting in the Western World. Some small cages but no real horrors, although the housing for mandrills and macaques are not good at all. Chengdu Zoo - visit to Chengdu Zoo, 15 November 2013 9) Seoul Zoo (South Korea – 2013) – a huge rambling zoo with some excellent “houses” for invertebrates and birds; and a huge array of other species. Many are housed well, others are housed in ugly enclosures (aesthetically), some are in poor enclosures in terms of size. Unfortunately my visit was hampered by torrential rain. Seoul Zoo - Visit August 2013 10) Singapore River Safari (2014) – I would love to rank this much higher because it is a great place with really nice tanks and species, including an outstanding manatee aquarium, but it is shot down by the ridiculous eight minute boat ride which is the only way to see almost half the park and in which the animals are housed in pathetically tiny enclosures. River Safari - review of River Safari, 23 April 2014 11) Songkhla Zoo (Thailand – 2017) – this should be a much higher ranked zoo. It has a huge site, it is one of the five collections in the Zoological Park Organization Thailand, and it has some really outstanding exhibits. However it seems to be in a downward spiral and I don't know why. There are a LOT of empty and abandoned enclosures with little sign this is being rectified, which gives the entire zoo a run-down air and detracts from those enclosures which really are exceptional. Review of the Songkhla Zoo, 26 May 2017 12) Chiang Mai Zoo (Thailand – 2006, 2014) – a huge area, with annoyingly a lot of walking through long stretches with no enclosures. A lot of building and renovation work going on (in 2006 and in 2014!). Most of the enclosures are good or alright, but there's something about the zoo which can't let me rank it higher. I can't figure out what it is. Chiang Mai Zoo - Chiang Mai Zoo, Thailand and Chiang Mai Zoo - visit 28 March 2014 (includes Species List) 13) Shanghai Zoo (China – 2013) – as for the Chengdu Zoo, generally speaking a very good zoo. The primate cages were very very bad indeed however. I visited twice: the first time I missed the primate section due to time – on the second visit I wished I had missed the primate section a second time This situation has now been remedied apparently, so if I was to make a return visit then the zoo would rise in the rankings. Shanghai Zoo - review of Shanghai Zoo 14) Delhi Zoo (India – 2017) – probably the only actually good zoo in India, although that sounds really harsh. Delhi does most things right, but it still has some of the older-style Indian zoo cages for smaller mammals. Delhi National Zoological Park - Delhi Zoo visit, 4 February 2017 15) Singapore Night Safari (2014) – two vastly different halves: a tram ride through a series of overwhelmingly small set-piece enclosures for large animals, and then walking trails through mostly good enclosures for smaller animals. If it were just the walking trails I would rate this zoo high, if it were just the tram ride I would put it down below Medan Zoo. Both features together place it right about this spot for me. Singapore Night Safari - first visit to the Night Safari, 22 April 2014 16) Khao Kheow Open Zoo (Chonburi, Thailand – 2006) – probably this will be a controversially low placing but when I visited in 2006 the impression I came away with was that while it was a huge site the cages were just the standard small cages seen in so many other Asian zoos, simply scattered about over a much larger area. I would need a return visit to judge it better for a current place on this list. Khao Kheow Forest & Wildlife Reserve Park - Bang Saen Aquarium and Khao Kheow Open Zoo (Chonburi, Thailand) 17) Lao Zoo (outside Ventianne, Laos – 2019) – a rambling collection of old-style Asian cages and brand new modern cages with no over-riding plan to the site. It acts as a rescue zoo which is highly commendable. Few of the older cages are that bad, and many of the new enclosures are great. Lao Zoo species lists, October 2019 [Lao Zoo] 18) Ragunan Zoo (Jakarta, Java, Indonesia – 2009) – huge sprawling zoo with many pretty good enclosures (hooved stock for example) but also horrible primate cages. Ragunan Zoo - Ragunan Zoo visit, 27 September 2009 19) Lok Kawi Wildlife Park (Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo – 2009 and 2014) – I would love to have been able to place this higher because it could be a very nice zoo and it specialises largely on Bornean wildlife. However most of the enclosures are, at best, “just big enough” rather than “spacious”, and some are downright atrocious. Lok Kawi Wildlife Park - Lok Kawi review, 12 Sept 2009 (and follow-up, 12 May 2014) 20) Melaka Zoo (Malaysia – 2014) – only a couple of years before (in 2011 - Melaka Zoo - visit September 2011) this was one of the greats of Asian zoos. In 2014 it was sadly an absolute shambles with half the enclosures empty. Hopefully it can rebuild its quality, but for now it cannot be rated well. I had planned to go back in 2017 and get an update but I couldn't manage to do so. Melaka Zoo - return to Melaka Zoo, April 2014 21) Alipore Zoo (Kolkata, India – 2014) – seemingly in the midst of a long-winded large-scale renovation so extremely messy, but most of the animals are in good or alright enclosures. It just doesn't look particularly attractive (but that's India for you I guess). Alipore Zoological Gardens - Alipore Zoo visit, 15 Feb 2014 22) Beijing Zoo (China – 2013) – some good cages, many bad cages...mostly just average cages. A hundred years old. I got the impression they are trying to renovate where they can but it will be a slow process. Not a terrible zoo but not yet a properly good zoo. Beijing Zoo - small review of Beijing Zoo, 17 Sept 2013 23) Assam State Zoo (Guwahati, India – 2014) – a real mix of very good enclosures for hooved stock and very bad cages for carnivores. A typical Indian zoo. Assam State Zoo - A visit to the Assam State Zoo (Guwahati), 10 March 2014 24) Hanoi Zoo (Vietnam – 2017) – a strange sort of zoo with exhibits scattered through an amusement park. It could best be described as "average" but there is little apart for some monkey cages which are actually bad. Hanoi Zoo - Hanoi Zoo review, 14 May 2017 25) Colombo's National Zoo (Sri Lanka – 2016) – a very poor zoo, with most of the "good" enclosures only being good in comparison to the bad ones at the zoo. There is a jumble of different styles of exhibitry, some of which is atrociously outdated. The zoo appears to be trying to modernise, but at the same time one wonders where all the money from the excessive entry fees goes. National Zoological Gardens of Sri Lanka - review of National Zoological Gardens, Colombo, December 2016 26) Saigon Zoo (Vietnam – 2017) – a mix of enclosures from okay to appalling, with a great disparity between the two ends of that spectrum. The worst of the cages are so bad as to taint the whole zoo and I really did not like it at all. Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens - Saigon Zoo review - 7 March 2017 27) Medan Zoo (Sumatra, Indonesia – 2009) – has a lot of bad things said about it, but the worst cages were for the primates (and they were certainly VERY bad indeed). Many of the other animals are fine where they are, the grounds are available for expansion, and I have hope it can be made better. Medan Zoo (north Sumatra) 28) Mumbai Zoo (India – 2016) – small and half-empty with bad enclosures. Almost like a hold-over menagerie from the British rule when the city should have a Delhi Zoo style attraction. Mumbai Zoo visit, 30 December 2016 29) Yangon Zoo (Burma – 2013) – some excuse in that the zoo was built a hundred years ago but still some very very sad sights here. Yangon Zoo - The Zoos of Burma 2: Yangon Zoo, 26 December 2013 30) Yadanabon Zoo (Mandalay, Burma – 2014) – perhaps not as bad as the ones directly above, but it was only built in 1989 and that in itself is reason enough to have it placed way down here. Yadanabon Zoo - The Zoos of Burma 4: Yadanabon Zoo (Mandalay), 5 January 2014 31) Danang Zoo (Vietnam – 2015) – concrete and bars. The entire zoo consists of a deer pen, a crocodile pool, and about six cages for macaques. 32) Jong's Crocodile Farm and Zoo (Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo – 2009) – where animals go to die. Jongs Crocodile Farm and Zoo - Jong's Crocodile Farm And Zoo 33) Bukittinggi Zoo (Sumatra, Indonesia – 2009) – really there's not one good thing to say about this hell-hole. Bukittinggi Zoo - Bukittinggi zoo, west Sumatra BIRD COLLECTIONS: 1) Jurong Bird Park (Singapore – 2004, 2006, 2014, 2019) – can't get much better than this (well, maybe if you're Walsrode). The only really bad point is the Nocturnal House with its tiny cells, but otherwise very good indeed. If I were to rank Jurong Bird Park against the Singapore Zoo, Jurong would win easily on overall housing standards. Jurong Bird Park - a review of the Jurong Bird Park, 2014 and Jurong Bird Park species list, September 2019 [Jurong Bird Park] 2) Penang Bird Park (Malaysia – 2014 and 2017) – excellent diversity of birds, including many unexpected and unusual species. Not as attractive a setting as Jurong's or Bali's gardens, pretty basic in appearance really, but no particularly bad aviaries. Penang Bird Park - Penang Bird Park, 13 April 2014 and Penang Bird Park - Penang Bird Park, 29 May 2017 3) Kuala Lumpur Bird Park (Malaysia – 2006 and 2019) – also good, but nowhere near Jurong in rank and not as good a selection of species as Penang. Kuala Lumpur Bird Park - Kuala Lumpur Bird Park and Zoo Negara and KL Bird Park species list, October 2019 [Kuala Lumpur Bird Park] 4) Bali Bird Park (Bali, Indonesia – 2009) – I was tempted to put this one ahead of Kuala Lumpur because it is much nicer to walk around in, but the constant smallness of the aviaries set it back unfortunately. Bali Bird Park & Rimba Reptile Park - Bali Bird Park and Reptile Park 5) Melaka Bird Park (Malaysia – 2014) – in the future this may have a chance of rising up the rank but for now it is too new, too bare, too sparse in birds, and consists of just the single walk-through aviary. Melaka Bird Park - Melaka Bird Park visit, 30 April 2014 AQUARIUMS: Apart for the Kolkata Aquarium, all these are good aquariums. The larger ones are ranked higher than the smaller ones, but that's to be expected. Take the rankings purely as my own preferences for them, rather than if they are "good" or "bad". 1) S.E.A. Aquarium (Singapore – 2014) – just brilliant. A few small tanks but overall very very nice indeed. The ocean tank is amazing. The collection concentrates almost-solely on Southeast Asia marine environments, and there are some very nice species on show. Marine Life Park - first visit to S.E.A. Aquarium, 25 April 2014 2) Shanghai Ocean Aquarium (China – 2013) – at the time the best aquarium I had ever been to (I haven't been to Japan, Europe or the USA though!) although the tiny seal tank is a major let-down. A lot of really interesting species for me here. Shanghai Ocean Aquarium - review of Shanghai Ocean Aquarium, December 2013 3) Beijing Aquarium [in the Beijing Zoo] (China – 2013) – another brilliant aquarium, with my first beluga whales and the sturgeon tank being the highlights. However big marks off for the tiny beluga tank and to a lesser extent the presence of the dolphins (gained from the infamous Japanese dolphin hunts). Beijing Aquarium - visit to Beijing Aquarium, 17 Sept 2013 4) COEX Aquarium (Seoul, South Korea – 2013) – African manatees put this aquarium high on the list! Overall everything is well-presented but boy some of the theming was trippy! COEX Aquarium - Visit August 2013 5) Siam Ocean World (Bangkok, Thailand – 2006) – typical modern aquarium, big and flash. I was very impressed with it because it was one of the first big Aquariums I visited, but really the big ones are all mostly the same unfortunately. Dusit Zoo - Dusit Zoo and Siam Ocean World (Bangkok) 6) Aquaria KLCC (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – 2006, 2009) – almost a carbon-copy of Bangkok's Siam Ocean World (they were built by the same people). Aquaria KLCC - Kuala Lumpur aquarium 7) Bang Saen Aquarium (Chonburi, Thailand – 2006) – not flash, in fact more utilitarian than showy, but I liked it. Had some interesting species when I visited. Like devilfish in his trip thread I felt like I was catching it at the wrong time though. Khao Kheow Forest & Wildlife Reserve Park - Bang Saen Aquarium and Khao Kheow Open Zoo (Chonburi, Thailand) (very brief) 8) Underwater World (Pattaya, Thailand – 2006) – standard modern aquarium (i.e. walk-through shark tank, common tropical species). Sort of a bland McDonald's type of aquarium and I preferred the older more random feel of the Bang Saen Aquarium (I visited them a day apart I think) which is the only reason this one is lower in rank. 9) Kandawgyi Fresh Water Fish Garden (Yangon, Burma – 2014) – could benefit from some sprucing up but nice to wander around in. Some interesting fish here. Freshwater Fish Kandawgyi Garden - The Zoos of Burma 6: Kandawgyi Fresh Water Fish Garden, 15 January 2014 10) Vladivostok Aquarium (Russia – 2013) – I know Russia is a European country, but the majority of the country sits within Asia and it seems stupid to include collections in Korea and China but not far-eastern Russia! A small aquarium, quite old and run-down but with a certain charm. It has a model of a Steller's sea cow! Vladivostok Aquarium - Vladivostok Aquarium 11) Kuching Aquarium (Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo – 2009) – actually pretty nice (and free) but so small and sort of run-down that it can't be ranked very high. But not a bad aquarium as might be implied by its low rank here. 12) Kolkata Aquarium (India – 2014) – more of a Public Abomination than a Public Aquarium. Shouldn't even exist. Alipore Zoological Gardens - Alipore Zoo visit, 15 Feb 2014 (on post number two) OTHERS: These are sort of ranked against each other but not really, so I've replaced the numbers with asterisks. They are basically the animal collections which don't fall into the above three categories. * Nameri Pigmy Hog Conservation Centre (Nameri National Park, India – 2014) – pigmy hogs. I need say no more. * Melaka Butterfly and Reptile Sanctuary (Malaysia – 2014) – excellent collection of insects and reptiles, on my visit almost 100% excellent. If I had included this amongst the zoos it would be ranked very high indeed. Melaka Butterfly Park - Melaka Butterfly Park visit, 2 May 2014 * Endangered Primate Rescue Centre (Cuc Phuong NP, Vietnam – 2017) – nice collection of rescued monkeys and gibbons, several of them the only ones of their species in captivity, all housed in very basic cages. Good work being done here. Chlidonias Goes To Asia, part five: 2016-2017 (post #324) * Rimba Reptile Park (Bali, Indonesia - 2009) – well-displayed, good collection. Bali Bird Park & Rimba Reptile Park - Bali Bird Park and Reptile Park * Turtle Conservation Centre (Cuc Phuong NP, Vietnam – 2017) – I only visited very briefly, so not much to be said. * Hlawga Park (outside Yangon, Burma – 2013) – I had this in the zoo section originally but it didn't seem fair to be comparing it against the big zoos. It is good in its own way – mostly well-housed animals – but is just too limited to rank properly against the others. Hlawga Park - The Zoos of Burma 3: Hlawga Park (Yangon), 27 December 2013 * Butterfly Park and Insect World (Singapore – 2006) – the only proper insect collection I had visited in Asia until Melaka in 2014. Mostly nicely done from memory. * Taman Mini Indonesia (Jakarta, Java, Indonesia – 2009) – a mix of different “parks” (bird park, aquarium, insect zoo) in a general Indonesian-themed attraction so doesn't really fit with the other zoos, and the different sections vary widely (e.g. the mammals were housed appallingly, while the aquarium was fine). Taman Mini Indonesia * Melaka Crocodile Park (Malaysia – 2014) – small site, small enclosures, bad husbandry. Melaka Crocodile Park - Melaka Crocodile Park visit, 30 April 2014 * Shanghai Natural Wild-Insect Kingdom (China – 2013) – just revoltingly bad. Yuk. Shanghai Natural Wild Insect Kingdom - review of Shanghai Natural Wild-Insect Kingdom, December 2013 CLOSED ZOOS: * Dusit Zoo (Bangkok, Thailand – 2006, 2009, 2014, 2017) – now closed on the basis that it was being relocated elsewhere in Bangkok but this has not yet happened. When it was open this was one of the zoos in the category of “best in Asia”. I had been four times and it got better each visit. There were still some older cages, and some small cages here and there, but overall it was a most impressive zoo and its closure was a loss for Asia. Dusit Zoo - Dusit Zoo and Siam Ocean World (Bangkok) (very brief) and Dusit Zoo - Dusit Zoo, 11 November 2009 and Dusit Zoo - species list, 29 January 2014 and Dusit Zoo - Species list, 5 February 2017 * Suzhou Zoo (China – 2013) – now closed at this site (having been relocated elsewhere in the city). Small cages, small site, but there wasn't the neglected feel to the place that some small bad zoos have. The bears and most of the monkeys were shockingly badly housed however. Suzhou Zoo - Suzhou Zoo visit, 3 October 2013 * Angkor Zoo (Cambodia – 2006) – now closed. Many tiny cages but I felt here the animals were mostly rescued/abandoned rather than being caught solely for a short display before they died as at, for example, Jong's Crocodile Farm or Bukittinggi Zoo. Angkor Zoo - Angkor Zoo, Cambodia * Underwater World (Singapore – 2004) – now closed after the much-larger SEA Aquarium opened nearby. Quite nice, not very big compared to the aquariums listed previously in the thread (which I hadn't visited at that stage of course). They had a dugong. I'm not a fan of dolphin shows but at least they were in a lagoon (well separate from the aquarium itself) and not in a little tank. * Rumah Aquarium (Melaka, Malaysia – 2014) – a cheat addition as it had already closed down by the time I visited! I looked through the window and all the tanks were empty.