Taiping Zoo and Night Safari (ZTNS) might be categorised as the best zoo in the world, thanks to their success in not only preventing extinction of 14 species of animals, but also increasing their population through proper breeding.
According to their director, Dr Kevin Lazarus, ZTNS has always prioritised their concern towards animal welfare and maintaining them, which is one of their secrets to success.
“Food for the animals here costs around RM2.5 million annually. This is to ensure that they receive nutritious food and a balanced diet,” he said. “Apart from that, every animal exhibition in ZTNS is done according to size specifications and standards.
“We also ensure that exhibit animals are monitored daily by veterinarian officers in the zoo,” Kevin added. “The officers work hand-in-hand with zoo keepers to ensure good health conditions of the animals.”
ZTNS, also known as Taman Mergastua Sultan Idris Shah II started operations circa 1961. The zoo is situated in the midst of nature and greenery surrounding the Taiping Lake Gardens, near the foothills of Bukit Larut. Interestingly, it is 36 acres wide.
Kevin mentioned that the animal exhibitions are an open concept which mimic their original habitats.
“ZTNS’ uniqueness is its physical characteristics such as river streams, lakes and abundance of flora,” he enthused.
“Existing exhibition concepts include our country’s own tropical forest, lowland forest, riverbank forest, African savanna grassland and elephants from the Perak River,” Kevin said. “These concepts are designed to resemble original habitats and to increase the population of endangered species.”
To date, ZTNS houses around 1,500 animals from 130 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and fishes.
Their mission in the long run is to make ZTNS an international eco-tourism destination. In the short run, they would like to promote ZTNS as the main local tourism product of the state and the nation, while achieving education, conservation, research, training and recreation goals.
What’s even more worth noting is the success of their wildlife conservation and breeding programme which has increased the population of the Harimau Malaya tiger, the milky stork, Orang Utan, Asian elephants and many more.