Happy to spread wings again

Children interacting with butterflies at Entopia in Teluk Bahang. – CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

AFTER having stayed home for a year, nothing beats walking into a butterfly haven for Radzi Shaar and family as they enjoyed the presence of bright, fluttering butterflies at the Entopia by Penang Butterfly Farm.

The 30-year-old businessman from Selangor, who visited the sanctuary in Teluk Bahang with his family last Saturday, said the family was enthralled by the bright and graceful insects around them.

“This is my family’s first holiday after over a year. We have been cooped up at home or at work ever since the pandemic started.

“My son is only two years old and due to the pandemic, he has been growing up at home with limited contact with the environment.

“Thus, we thought that it would be best to bring him somewhere that is serene, tropical and visually stimulating,” he said when met at the sanctuary.

His wife, pharmacist Dalila Zulkarmain, 30, said they were thrilled to be out on a holiday after so long.

“We will be here for three days. After this, we plan to visit the Tropical Spice Garden along with some popular food spots.

“We booked a hotel on the mainland, so we will be travelling between the mainland and the island for our holiday.

“As we have not been out for so long, we wanted to visit natural, open spaces and avoid crowds,” she said.

Also spotted at the farm were student Haliza Shamsuri, 21, and her sister’s family who were on a short day trip to unwind and relax.

“We are just here to enjoy the environment and spend some quality time together as a family.

“We live on the island and visited places like Cameron Highlands a few weeks ago, so we thought it is time for us to travel within Penang,” she said.

Entopia by Penang Butterfly Farm chief of research and development Kueenie Lee said they had only recently reopened and welcomed visitors back.

“We had been ‘hibernating’ for seven months and we only reopened on Nov 18.

“So far, the number of visitors we received is encouraging. We had some 260 visitors on our first day and we received over 400 visitors on Friday.

“At the moment, most of our exhibits are open as usual except the first floor attractions, which include the Pandora Forest, Metamorphosis Exhibit and our Breeding Ground,” she explained.

Lee said due to shortage of staff, some of the exhibits could not be left open as there will be no staff members to assist visitors.

“The farm has taken a hit from the impact of the pandemic for the past seven months, so all of us are trying to multitask at the moment and make things work.

“But nevertheless, we hope visitors will always have a good time while they are here and be able to enjoy our facilities,” she added.

Lee said some of the facilities may be temporarily closed until further notice and that the public can always check for the latest updates on Entopia’s official website at www.entopia.com.

Entopia by Penang Butterfly Farm chief executive officer Joseph Goh said the farm, which has been sustaining huge operating costs despite not receiving visitors for months, is well maintained.

“We ensured all our exhibits, insects, arachnids and reptiles were properly cared for during those months.

“Now that we have reopened, we hope to ensure that we at least have cash flow for us to sustain the place.

“Then we will need to rehire our ex-staff members or new ones, as we currently have fewer than 50 employees, which makes it hard for us to run the place well,” he said.

Goh also said that as the farm is running at a limited operation level, he hoped the public could understand the reason behind some of the exhibit closures when they visit.

For more information, the public can call 04-888 8111 or email info@entopia.com.

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