Cool solutions for hot animals

Heatwave? No sweat!: An elephant keeping its cool by playing in its enclosure pool at Zoo Negara.

PETALING JAYA: As a searing heatwave in March drove temperatures up to a blistering 40ºC, Zoo Negara has implemented climate action measures, ensuring that its wild animals are protected from extreme heat.

Zoo Negara deputy president Datuk Rosly @ Rahmat Ahmat Lana said the animals were healthy despite the intense heat.

He said the zoo’s climate action plan included the construction of new shelters within animal enclosures and the planting of more trees to provide critical shade.

 Efforts are also being made to ensure that there will be a continuous supply of fresh, clean water to keep the animals well-hydrated.

“We have intensified our animal care protocols by carrying out more frequent bathing and meticulous monitoring for dietary or health shifts within our animal communities. Prompt veterinary care follows any detected changes,” Rosly said in an interview.

Zoo Negara saw a dip in the number of visitors during the fasting month in March.

After welcoming 39,309 guests in January and a peak of 56,142 in February, attendance dropped to 28,334 in March 2024.

“This year’s heatwave is exceptionally intense. However, our abundant, shade-rich trees have been instrumental in safeguarding our animals’ welfare,” he said.

Rosly said daily health checks, including stool analysis by zoo veterinarians, have been constant, alerting them to any sign of heat distress.

Notably, water usage has not spiked in March, which demonstrated the wild animals’ natural coping mechanisms through seeking the cool relief of water and shade.

The Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) earlier forecast a shift from the prevailing hot and dry climate as the nation anticipates a cooling trend with the onset of heavy rains, marking the beginning of the monsoon transition phase at the end of March.

Since it opened on Nov 14, 1963, Zoo Negara is now home to roughly 303 species and 3,623 animals. The zoo is actively engaged in growing and diversifying its spectrum of biodiversity.

Rosly said the Painted Stork population has seen remarkable growth. They were introduced from India, from 300 to over 1,000 birds. Tunku Abdul Rahman Lake, ensconced in the zoo’s central area, is a vibrant haven for over 300 free-roaming birds, including Painted Storks, ibises, egrets, swans and pelicans.

These birds reside on two islands within the lake, presenting a breathtaking vista to visitors of numerous birds either gracing the lakeside or perching in trees.

To augment income for Zoo Negara, which is funded by NGOs, Rosly said corporate entities have bolstered the zoo’s resources through its CSR efforts and organising family days.

Innovative visitor attractions like the Zoo Camp offers unique overnight experiences, immersing guests in the nocturnal wonders of the animal habitat, he added.

When addressing the rise of private animal farms and mini-zoos, he said that their distinct business models mean they do not impinge on Zoo Negara’s revenues.

“These farms provide additional services such as lodgings and off-road adventures, which come with a higher price tag.

“Conversely, Zoo Negara remains a premier destination for family excursions and individuals passionate about exploring animal ecologies, catering to a broad audience base with its diverse offerings,” he added.

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Zoo Negara , Heatwave , Animals , Water , Climate , Rosly Lana , Visitor.


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