TAIPING: The Taiping Zoo is the country’s oldest zoo but sound redevelopment planning, steady government funding and advertising have kept it going strong.
The zoo, established in 1961, is owned by the Taiping Municipal Council.
Its director, Dr Kevin Lazarus, said the zoo's accounts were no longer in the red, making it a respectable entity among tourism promoters.
He believed the move to replace most of the animal cages with the open enclosure concept in the mid-1990s did the trick.
“We often get praises from visitors who were impressed with our open zoo concept,” said Dr Lazarus, 42, who had served as a veterinarian at the zoo since 1987.
He was asked to comment on The Star report yesterday on the dilemma facing Zoo Negara, which will cease to exist in five years if it did not get the protection and financial support it badly needs.
Malaysian Zoological Society chairman Datuk Ismail Hutson had said there was little doubt Zoo Negara's days were numbered unless the Government stepped in to help.
Dr Lazarus noted that Taiping Zoo had attracted about 280,000 visitors annually in the 1980s but the figure touched a record 751,000 last year.
“The zoo broke even in 1998. Since then, we have not been in the red,” he said in an interview recently.
The then Science, Technology and Environment Ministry had allocated RM10mil in development funds for the zoo in 2001.
The zoo had also accumulated about RM4.4mil over the years from the then Culture, Arts and Tourism Ministry.
Perak also gives the zoo RM150,000 every year.
In March last year, the council, under its former president Datuk Jamalludin Al Amini Ahmad, introduced a night safari on a trial basis at the zoo.
Two months later, it became a nightly affair, offering visitors a close look of nocturnal animal activities at the zoo, which has about 180 species of which some 80 are active at night. This also had boosted the number of visitors.
Malacca Zoo, established in 1963, has not made any profit, said its director, Mohd Nawayai Yasak.
However, he pointed out that the zoo was not operated as a business entity.
“Malacca Zoo was set up for captive breeding, research, education and recreation.”
The only zoo under the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Malacca Zoo relies on private sponsors and government funding to operate.
It attracted 538,000 visitors last year.
Mohd Nawayai also lamented that the zoo received only RM112,000 this year in sponsorship compared withRM160,000 last year.
Selangor has offered to help Zoo Negara by giving it a new site if it were to relocate.
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