I went to this zoo on 12 May 2013, as a way to spend quality time with the little boy and wifey.
I heard about the big management change in February and the claim to have it on par with Singapore Zoo in 2 years time. So hoping to see some positive changes to the zoo, I was very fired up and so was my kid of 2 years old.
I had been to this zoo before I was married in 2008, and at that time I had a good opinion of the zoo's approach to open concept enclosures , with it's mini safari where you could practically walk side by side with a full grown giraffe.
Unfortunately, this latest visit confirmed my greatest fears about mismanagement of animal welfare in this country.
1.) The mini safari was closed and in a state of disrepair.
2.) The red panda enclosure was empty, probably due to the panda's untimely demise.
3.) The walk in enclosure that housed ring tailed lemurs and love birds and flying foxes was now an overgrown dump and closed to visitors. No animals there.
4.) Miniature pony enclosure, also empty
5.) Mouse deer enclosure, in 2008 there were at least 6 to 8 mousedeers, 2 lyrebirds, a quartet of crown wood doves, and a good sprinkling of egrets. Now, just 1 lonely mouse deer, 1 stork, 2 other unknown species of small deer.
6.) Capybaras, 2 and in a squalid enclosure with a tree blocking the only good view of them.
7.) Tapirs, 2 of them also in enclosures that had seen better days but now are more of twisted metal bars and crumbling masonry.
8.) Walk in aviary with only the common white doves and white egrets. At most I counted about less than 20 birds
9.) 1 miserable estuarine crocodile, a handful of false gharials
10.) 3 small Asiatic elephants that just stood there with no sign of enrichment toys or even a hanging log toy.
11.) 1 solitary clouded leopard
12.) 1 normal leopard pacing away in a denuded enclosure
13. ) 2 balding and extremely dirty ostriches that could do with a good wash.
14.) Overgrown primate islands that have no view of primates, at least we heard them so probably they're there somewhere.
15.) 1 chimpanzee, at the time either sleeping or maybe already dead and awaiting discovery
16.) 1 orangutan, just sitting there with a sad look on its face
17.) 1 Malayan wild dog? I didn't know Malaysia had a wild dog species.
18.) 1 solitary African lion, female and in an enclosure that was overgrown with water lilies.
19.) 3 tigers all lazing around in slightly better enclosures compared to the lion.
20.) The tortoise garden was more garden then tortoises and the few I saw had all the liveliness of a homeless drunk then a truly lively animal.
21.) A flamingo enclosure with no flamingos, they later appeared in the animal show.
And that's just the animals. As for the condition of the walkways for visitors:
1.) Uneven roads that you could twist an ankle on.
2.) Trees growing in the middle of the walkway
3.) Don't even think of bringing a baby stroller or pram, unless you want to twist your back negotiating the bad walkways. I brought one for my kid, and I cursed myself for doing it.
4.) No map of the zoo so you don't know where you're headed or what is the next exhibit. Fortunately I'm a local so I more or less knew.
5.) Throughout the visit, I also found that the mosquito population was doing well, at least there is one species that is doing well in a zoo.
6.) The aviary is dark and dank, one would easily mistake it for a cave of horrors instead of an aviary.
7.) The otter enclosure was good with lively otters, but no shade for anyone wanting to watch this playful occupants swim.
I tend to disclaim any news from the local tabloids due to their less than honest spin on local news, but seeing what I saw on this visit, I am inclined to believe the news that indeed 230 animals were unaccounted for after the management handover.
And a word on the animal show. Perhaps this was the only saving grace of Melaka zoo. The handlers were well trained and very gentle with the birds. However if I were to fork out RM 20 just for an animal show I should have gone to the animal theatre at Pulau Melaka.
I realize that maybe its too soon to expect much from this once well known zoo.After all the former Chief Minister of Malacca , Ali Rustam , boasted a RM 2 million overhaul of the zoo to match Singapore zoo in 2 years time. I can only hope it will come to fruition as planned in 2015. As for now and the immediate future, I can only say that I will not be going back to Zoo Melaka again. Now that the zoo has a new management team, it needs to think very carefully what it intends to do with the animals and enclosures and also the overall visitor friendliness of the zoo. Failing to improve anything about this zoo, they might as well close it down and donate the animals to better zoos or risk making the biggest mockery of Malacca's tourism attraction as nothing more than a rip off for unsuspecting tourists and locals.
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