Field Trip: Taiping Zoo
We spent a few days holidaying in Malaysia during the December school holidays, and took a driving trip up to Taiping and Penang.
When my aunt, who lives in Taiping, heard that we intended to visit the Taiping Zoo, she laughed and said, if our kids had already visited the Singapore Zoo, what could a small town zoo offer in terms of excitement and new discovery for our kids?
Well, quite a lot, as we soon found out to our delight! 🙂
The first zoo to have been established in Malaysia, the Taiping Zoo is more of an unpolished gem – a little rough around the edges but with some really invaluable discoveries – as compared to the more tourism savvy Singapore Zoo which is very geared towards edutainment, shows and structured activities.
Admission is priced at MYR 12 per adult, MYR 8 per child (3–12 years) and the day zoo is open from 8:30am to 6pm. From 8pm to 11pm, it runs a Night Safari which is priced slightly more expensively.
Commentaries and label descriptions are largely dispensed in local Bahasa Malaysia, which means either you understand it fully or you don’t understand it at all. Language challenge opportunity to figure out why a hippo is called badak air and a rhino, badak sumbu?
There were no maps available at the ticketing counter, so we had to find our own way around the place. In this respect, it is useful to take advantage of the free tram ride and go for it first thing, to gain your bearings.
With a compressed schedule, we didn’t quite get to walk the entire length and breadth as we would have liked so we personally found the tram ride that much useful in at least getting a brief overview of the different sights the zoo has to offer.
When we got off the tram, we stopped by the usual favourites of the children, like the giraffes and zebras, elephants, tigers and lions.
The animals appeared a lot livelier in Taiping than Singapore, and we think this could be because of the lack of shows in the former. There aren’t any scheduled shows, so there are no droves of people rushing for seats and spaces. I personally like this because each can then people or animal-watch at leisure and go about their own business. Sometimes I tend to feel that because we’ve paid an expensive admission into the Singapore Zoo, we need to make the most value of the price and see every show there is – which becomes a rather stressful undertaking!
We saw a tiny baby elephant nursing from its mother, surrounded by all the other elephants in the herd, who took turns to assure and protect the little one between their strong legs.
Majestic Malayan tigers enjoying a morning swim.
Cute but fierce little lion cubs gambolling around while their father and mother relaxed lazily in the shade in a neighbouring enclosure.
And an interesting “one-sided argument” between an antagonized ostrich and a nonchalant giraffe.
It was all very relaxed and pleasant, and a very enriching experience for the kids who had not to date, seen baby lions or baby elephants in the Singapore Zoo.
The zoo is located within the Taiping Lake Gardens, the gardens themselves valued for its deep historical worth as the first public gardens established during British rule in Malaysia.
There is always a constant hum of activity in the Lake Gardens with joggers and walkers traversing its paths at dawn, and cars passing through the busy roundabout throughout the night.
These over-hundred-year-old golden rain trees with their branches bent down towards the water are the most frequently photographed and admired residents of the garden.