By Ili Aqilah and Nantini Krishnan
Located in the heart of Taiping, specifically the Taiping Lake Gardens, it would be impossible to leave the legendary Taiping Zoo out from the list of must-visit places in Taiping. The zoo was first opened in 1961 with only 22 acres of land. However over time, the tourist spot has received bigger audiences and has expanded into 36 acres in 2000. With that in mind, an Ipoh Echo team paid a visit to the home of 1300 animals such as the Malayan Tiger, Black Panther, Marmosets, Civets, Dholes and innumerable other species to pander to our inner animal-lover and to see the latest facilities at the zoo.
Taiping Zoo Fascinations Not Just for Ogling
Taiping Zoo is concentrated in four action areas: conservation, recreation, education and research. While its primary purpose is to breed endangered species in captivity and also reintroducing them into the wild, Taiping Zoo also aims to help teach visitors the importance of animal conservation, letting visitors witness the animals first-hand. With conservation of animals and their habitats, Taiping Zoo plays a crucial role in preventing extinction of certain species and provides opportunities to reintroduce animals into the wild, while in other cases it’s a matter of maintaining a species that has already gone extinct (or likely to go extinct) in the wild.
In other words, not only does the zoo unite and educate the community, providing understanding of the interdependence of animals and their habitats, conducting conservation programmes of animals in the wild, including breeding programmes to reintroduce near-extinct and endangered species back into their natural environment, it also provides a pleasant recreation place for the visitor. Visitors are given the opportunity to view animals in their natural splendour and at the same time relax and enjoy themselves. We all know that zoos are recreational places; this is the real reason that so many of us go to the zoo every year to have a good day out.
With over 150 species, the display priority for this particular Zoo is mostly Malaysian species such as the Bear Cat, Malayan Porcupine, Orang Utan, Common Palm Civet and Malayan Sunbear. However, there are other habitats which display foreign animals such as the African Savannah, home of ten species; Giraffe, Burchell’s Zebra, White Rhinoceros, Red Hartebest and African Crowned Crane or the Australian Fauna where you get to see the Agile Wallaby, Emu, Black Swan and Magpie Goose.
A few species of birds are flying free around the area such as the Crown Crane and the Black Crowned Night Heron. There are also other birds such as Little Heron, Cattle Egrets and few others scattered around the premises. The zoo has successfully bred the Milky Stork and plans to let them range freely soon.
While others may conduct animal shows, Taiping Zoo has chosen not to do so; rather emphasising more on educational programmes and activities. Hence it has become a popular place to receive visits from school students and researchers who are active in the field of zoology.
The zoo also launched a programme called ‘Adopt an animal’ in 1994 where interested individuals or companies can fund the costs needed for any animal or animals of their choice and interest. The donations made will be used to bear the cost of feeding, medicine, enrichment programmes, maintaining and building animal exhibits and also facilities for the visitors. Readers who are keen on joining the programme can get details from brochures available within the zoo compound.
Facilities in Taiping Zoo
Zoo Taiping’s facilities are well maintained and very clean; services such as the tour train are good, and the staff, friendly. Current facilities available at Taiping Zoo include a playground, cafe, toilets and many more.
“Some of the facilities such as the cafe and another souvenir shop are under renovation and scheduled to finish by this May,” said Munarizal Abdul Manap, the Education Officer of Taiping Zoo.
By May, Taiping Zoo will see better parks, enclosures, kiosks and souvenir shops. Members of the public will also have the option of sponsoring other related services and facilities like landscaping services, signboards, shelters and other infrastructure which are necessary. For the last two years, the team have upgraded two new attractions; the African Savannah and the Elephants of the Perak River and currently upgrading twelve other enclosures; ‘Australian Fauna’, ‘Sambar Deer’, ‘Malayan Tiger’, ‘Marmoset and Tamarin’, ‘Malayan Gaur’ and many more that are expected to complete in another two months time.
The Night Experience
As one of the oldest zoos in Malaysia, Taiping Zoo was the first to open the concept of “Night Safari” where visitors will get a rare chance to see nocturnal animals at their active hour. According to Dr Kevin Lazarus, the director of Taiping Zoo and Night Safari, visitors will be getting a unique experience and gain knowledge while viewing the behaviour of the nocturnal animals displayed.
“The main idea is to give guests an experience as if they are walking in the wild during the full moon and watching the animals illuminated under the moonlight,” added Dr Kevin. Although the zoo’s train is available, visitors are encouraged to walk on foot when they visit the zoo at night.
Should We Visit?
Yes! Taiping Zoo is a fun and safe place to learn. It creates a rare opportunity for people to study about wildlife and get to appreciate nature. They allow students to connect with wildlife, build their understanding of conservation issues and be empowered to help save wildlife.There is always something new that we can learn about our wildlife.
Directions to the Zoo
There are a few options for visitors:
Train: Whether you are coming from North or South by train, passengers will have to disembark at the Taiping Railway station and grab a taxi to the zoo.
Bus: Guests can take the express bus which will stop at Kamunting Bus Terminal and get a taxi to Zoo Taiping & Night Safari.
Car: Via the North-South PLUS Highway, take the exit at Kamunting toll plaza (North) or exit the Changkat Jering toll plaza (South), you will be directed by signboards that will eventually lead you to the zoo.
Operation Hours and Ticketing
Visitors will get to enjoy 20 per cent off the usual price if they are residents of Larut Matang, Selama and Keria OR if they come in with more than twenty people in a group. School groups, travel agencies or government groups with formal letters and verification, will receive 30 per cent discount and for senior citizens an exclusive 50 per cent off. Prices are subjected to 6% of GST
Visiting Hours: Open everyday of the year including Sundays & Public Holidays from 8.30am to 6pm.
Feeding time: 10am to 11am
Daytime ticketing price
Visiting Hours: Open everyday of the year including Sundays & public holidays from 8pm to 11pm (till 12am for Saturday nights and eve of public holidays).
Feeding time: 8.15pm to 10pm.
Night Safari ticketing price
Contact details:ZOO TAIPINGJalan Pekeliling, Taman Tasik Taiping,34000 Taiping, Perak Darul Ridzuan, Malaysia.Tel: 05 808 6577 Fax: 05 806 6025URL: http://www.zootaiping.gov.my/GPS: N 4° 51.3′ E 100° 45.1′