Viewing ‘dinosaurs’ virtually

Ranger Muhammad Zulhairi Mohd Zaidi (in white) explaining about the ‘dinosaurs’ at Jurassic Research Centre at The Top@Komtar, Penang, while his colleague Muhd Zaimin Zainol Abiddin records him live on Facebook. — ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

DESPITE being unable to operate during Phase Two of the National Recovery Plan, an edutainment centre in Penang is going online to allow people to experience a Jurassic tour virtually.

With the current travel restrictions, employees at Jurassic Research Centre at The Top@Komtar have decided to bring the virtual experience to people in the comfort of their homes.

The Top@Komtar operations director Kevin Lai said his staff came up with the idea to conduct a virtual tour via Facebook live so that more people, especially children who are stuck at home, can ‘visit’ the centre online.

Its first virtual Jurassic tour will be tomorrow at 11am and it is free.

“We have been closed since mid-April and we have to look for alternatives instead of just waiting for the interstate travel ban to be lifted.

“In July, we conducted a virtual tour at our aquarium and the response was overwhelming.

“One of our rangers, Navinder Roy led the tour and explained the species of marine creatures at the aquarium to over 12,000 viewers.

“The public can post their questions at the comment section and he would interact and explain to them.

“There was also a question-and- answer section and some viewers managed to win prizes.

“We decided to conduct a Jurassic tour this time due to popular demand by our viewers,” he said.

An employee carrying out sanitising work at Durian King of Fruits Gallery at The Top@Komtar.An employee carrying out sanitising work at Durian King of Fruits Gallery at The Top@Komtar.

Lai added that they used to have over 2,000 visitors a day during school holidays, public holidays and on long weekends.

“We have several attractions including two interactive museums at the 220,000sq ft theme park.

“We have the Penang State Gallery where we showcase the history of Penang and the Durian King of Fruits Gallery where people get to understand more about durian.

“Both interactive museums are closed but we still need to maintain, clean and sanitise them from time to time.

“Although the museums are not open, we have to sanitise them bi-monthly and when customers are allowed, we sanitise the areas every one hour.

“As for the aquarium, we have to run it every day and make sure that it is clean and at an optimal oxygen level.

“We have to carry out daily maintenance and feed the marine animals.

“We are looking forward to welcoming visitors once interstate and international travels are allowed.

“Visitors have 14 different attractions to enjoy once the theme parks reopen,” he said.

Over the past few years before the Covid-19 outbreak, interactive museums were mushrooming especially in the heart of George Town.

Meanwhile, Penang 3D Trick Art Museum sales and marketing executive director Eric Lim said he was hopeful for the Covid-19 situation to get better so that interstate travel is allowed again and business can resume soon.

“We have been temporarily closed since May despite operating on and off since the first movement control order in March last year.

“Although we are not operating, we still have to pay the rent, utilities and salary for our five employees.

“We try to keep our Facebook page as active as possible and we have been engaging third-party platforms to sell our tickets at a discounted price.

“As we are situated in the heart of George Town, we used to get around 2,000 visitors during peak season,” he said, adding that the museum was started in 2015.

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