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Published: June 10th 2018
Not having a window, as is the case where I’m staying, is a bit disorienting for waking up. I’m going to avoid rooms without a window in future.
I had a bit of a lie in and got up at a leisurely pace. I asked about a taxi direct to Zoo Negara and was told that it would be about RM35 which is too much, so following the advice of the zoo website I got an LRT train to Wangsa Maju station (two trains actually, with one change) which was easy enough and cost RM5.3 and from Wangsa Maju station I got a taxi to the zoo for just under RM7. There is a bus stop just outside the zoo so there is probably a way to get to the zoo by bus with some changes, but I think the LRT and short cheap taxi route is the most efficient and not really that expensive and despite leaving quite late and not rushing at all, I still got to the zoo by around 11. For the return taxi though, I, surprisingly, couldn’t find any taxis around at all outside the zoo so had to call a Grab which
is the Uber equivalent in SE Asia (previously both Uber and Grab were operating but Grab bought out Uber SE Asia earlier this year. It’s exactly the same as Uber though) which actually cost a couple of ringgit more than a metered taxi.
The entry fee to the zoo is what really hurts your wallet though at RM80 for foreigners (and the local rate at just over half is not cheap either!). I would regret not visiting Zoo Negara though and RM80 would be a mid-to-low-priced zoo in Europe at about 17 euros. I’m not going to do a thorough and detailed review of the zoo because I don’t really have the time or energy to do so and there’s probably already a review on ZooChat somewhere but I quite liked the zoo overall. There were a couple of unusual species, or at least unusual for me/in Europe, like Masked Palm Civet, and they seemed to have both Red-legged and Dusky Pademelons. Where did they get the Red-leggeds from? Unfortunately the reptile house was closed for renovation and I think they have a few rarities there which I couldn’t see, but there were some unusual birds and fish too
and the aquarium was rather nicely done. I particularly liked the waterfowl lake in the middle of the zoo with large numbers of free-flying, though I don’t believe actually wild, waterbirds and lots of herons and storks and things with a lovely view of a forested rocky escarpment behind. Zoo Negara is not an inner-city zoo, it’s right on the outskirts of the city and consequently seems to have plenty of space although enclosures for things like elephants and African hoofstock were not particularly large. Not horrendous and they would pass perfectly well in Europe. I don’t think there were many enclosures that would be regarded as bad by European standards, apart from possibly a few of the primate enclosures which were on the lower end of acceptable, but it was overall a pretty good zoo.
They hold two different subspecies of Gaur too which is interesting and lots of Malayan Tapirs. It feels different seeing a Malayan Tapir in a zoo now that I have seen them in the wild too. There was one walkthrough enclosure with a particularly ominous sign in front warning about the zoo not being liable to property damage, injury or loss of life!
What monstrous beast could they be keeping in this walkthrough? It was.. wait for it… butterflies. That was the warning on the sign outside the butterfly house. It reminds me of that film by John Cleese. Fierce creatures or whatever it’s called. I’m sure they’d have liked those butterflies.
The most famous/popular bit of the zoo is their Giant Panda ‘Conservation Centre’ (the inverted commas are my own) which seemed excessively pompous with a 20 minute limit on how long you could spend watching the pandas and a lobby/reception area that looks rather like a posh hotel. People complain about Pandas in zoos and they’re certainly not worth the money or expenditure, but they’re not super common in zoos outside China and it has been a while since I last saw one. They had a white tiger at Zoo Negara too and although Giant Pandas in zoos outside China are pretty pointless for conservation, I would argue that keeping White ‘Bengal’ Tigers is arguably worse.
I spent about 5 hours in the zoo in total which is about the most you could spend doing the zoo at a slow pace. I had a meal in the zoo restaurant
too which was, of course, poor quality and extortionately priced, but I really didn’t want to eat snacks from my backpack for another meal. I need a bit of a break after a meal a day at Taman Negara and Bukit Fraser out of my backpack as well as, of course, the two nights in the hide.
I did really enjoy my day at the zoo though, a nice relaxing day in nice calm surroundings. I had been worried that the zoo would be really busy but it wasn’t crowded at all. So I’m feeling a bit more rested now which is a good thing because I’m up quite early tomorrow morning to start the next leg of the trip. Borneo awaits!
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