Banjar Negara Zoo
The Banjarnegara zoo is also known as the Serulingmas Zoo. It is situated in tourism recreation park area just outside the northern end of the town of Banjarnegara in Java, Indonesia.
The zoo is described as a 'Decent Wildlife Park' in various internet tourist sites. Not in any decent persons wildest dreams should it be called decent. Indonesia should be ashamed of this place.
This is one of a series of zoo reports that was actually included within my travel journal ‘The Itinerant ZooKeeper’. Initially I started to extract the zoo data but found the reading was diminished by it. So look on it as a zoo travelogue. The only major edits I have done is a little censoring and to remove the Casanova exploits.
Apart from my stomach I felt fine this morning. So a couple of Immodium and on the road. I was not going to make my mind up to destination until I got to the bus station in Purwokerto. Was there a bus to Banjarnegara I asked. Yes and leaving right now. I got a seat in the front with the driver, by backpack, a delightful young mother and her two huge children. The discomfort was more than made up for by the company and the interesting countryside. It was attractive and clean and for the most, somewhere that I wouldn't mind living. The exception would be the area devoted to baking bricks by the road. The whole area smelt burnt.
I arrived in Banjarnegara shortly before 11.00 am. I only plan to stop a night which in a way is a pity because it looks to be a nice little town. Very neat and tidy and, of course, everyone very friendly.
Incidentally I thought the hotel I was staying in in Baturraden was near to the top of the mountain. It wasn't. When I left this morning the mist had cleared for the first time exposing this immensity stretching up and beyond.
So. Why Banjarnegara? Because there is a zoo here. I hadn't turned it up in my research but saw reference to it in Baturraden.
Typical Javan Rickshaw
I took a rickshaw from my hotel out to Banjarnegara zoo. It is situated within a recreation area on the outskirts of town. It is enclosed by the town on the one side and a magnificent river on the other. The zoo and recreation area are one and the same, there is no division, the funfair type rides are in and amongst the animal exhibit area as are food and drink stalls. Some of the area is paved but mainly the ground is packed (and today, dry) mud. The inside of animal exhibits is the same where the cages are not raised or concreted.
Now before I get started, let me say that the Palm Civet enclosure here was close to or even the worst I have seen anywhere. As a starter that gives a good indication of what the zoo was like. It was horrible.
There were the good sides though which is more than I could have said about Baturraden Zoo. Here the food looked good and most things seemed to have more than enough. Highly unusually there were some very good signs. Okay they lacked maps but they had all the important information in nice little 'mind bites'. These signs were so clean and put up in such a way as to make me think they have been up a week at most. It is almost as if someone knew I was coming...but then I didn't know till two days ago, well today really, so that’s impossible. There were two generations of much older worn signs with the basic information.
The first animals I came to were a pair of Two-wattled Cassowaries and a half grown chick. These birds were fantastic specimens. Without a doubt the best looking Cassowaries I have seen anywhere...and I have seen a lot on this trip. The enclosure was horrible, it was dirty and strewn in rubbish BUT they had water and they had shade and shelter from the rain (if it rained). This picture was more or less the same all the way round. Shelter and water. Sometimes the water was in just an old paint pot but at least it was there. The animals too were all, seemingly in good condition, physically. Of course the whole place was a health and safety nightmare and where barriers did exist they were really neither use nor ornament. The cages did have warning signs though which said don't feed or something similar "Dilarang memberi Makan satwa".
That’s it really. I cannot think of another good thing to say about this place. I don't know what the financial arrangements are but general conditions are very basic to say the least.
I'm not going to list again because there was a lot more stock here. It is this stock that concerns me.
Where did it come from?
A zoo like this cannot seem to afford more than the very basic, bare bones, unsuitable accommodation so they cannot afford to actually buy animals. So they must have been donated. By whom??????? (Actually I know by whom because there was a sign to say that some of these animals came from Taman Safari Indonesia)
I consider it one of the most horrific of deeds that any 'reputable' zoo would send any animal knowingly into such conditions. Please note that there must never be an unknowingly. Zoos must know where their animals are going to and where they are going to be kept. If the said 'reputable' zoo fails to check first then they are no longer reputable in my eyes. In fact they are worse than the crap place they are sending animals too. Far better to have a well managed breeding programme in place and euthanasia as an active tool within.
There are lions here. Two pairs. Tigers too, I think 1.3.0. They are housed on moated islands with archaic denning. They will undoubtedly breed and if they are unlucky (or lucky depending on how you look at it) not to rear their own young then someone will 'save' them, bottle rear them and the whole sorry cycle will start again. This collection should be brought into the fold and these animals implanting or spaying now.
The three little Orangutans here at least had each other for company. Nice to have a playmate within the rubbish tip they called home. They did have a tyre and a chain and a couple of logs to climb as well. But it was the rubbish, the crispy, munchy, wheato, puffy type snacks that are THE enrichment in this zoo. Without that then life would be very bleak indeed. Of course it may well kill them in the meantime. And I have to ask myself the question "would that be such a bad thing?"....and if I am honest with myself "no it wouldn't". As long as it was quick.
The biggest and best enclosure was that for the elephants. Huge big expanse of grass set down at the base of a slope. Moated right around and open sided stabling towards the back. Here the two animals were chained. One with front handcuffs and a rear chain, the other I could not see the arrangement. What I could see, because it was blatantly obvious was that these animals had very rarely, if ever, been into their paddock, and certainly not for many months. I suspect one animal may be used for rides within the park but the other is probably confined to quarters...like those in Bandung Zoo. For how long I ask? Seventy is not an unreasonable life expectancy for an elephant. Can you imagine fifty plus years in handcuffs? Intelligent, feeling, thinking animals.
There were lots of oddments around the place Siamang, Gibbons (sp?), Tonkean Macaque, Pig-tail Macaque (biggest male ever), Leopard, Crowned Pigeon, Wreathed Hornbill, Green Peafowl, Green Iguana and boy was I sorry for the poor bear. Okay the cage was better than some but that depressing stereotyping. Two small herds of deer (Sambar and Timor), Porcupines, Lesser Adjutants, several birds of prey, one unfortunate Fruit Bat and more.
Interesting was seeing Monitor Lizards being housed with a Salt Water Crocodile. Maybe they were food but I think not because there were the usual unsuspecting ducklings dabbling about. I thought the Croc was so much luckier than most animals here. He had managed to back himself down into a cave with just his head showing.
There was only one Macropod. This was a Dusky Pademelon (Thylogale brunii) which was stuck in a concrete pit with nothing. I mean nothing. I felt so sorry, as I often do. I actually looked long and hard at this animal (and have since checked with photos on the internet) and now just have the shadow of a doubt in my mind about the Agile Wallabies I saw in Bandung. The similarity in appearance is quite striking if seen from a distance. Could it have been a group of Padmelons I saw there? Highly possible! (I rectified this later)
Getting back to the poor old Palm Civets. They actually had two species here. One I could not see so well. The others were a pair of Masked Palm Civets, one animal of which was so beautiful it needed to be showcased...pride of the collection. Yet here it was crammed into a tiny little concrete cave. Sleep must really be a mercy!
Conservation?....no definitely not. Breeding programmes?....you must be joking. Enrichment?...they have never heard of it. Supervision?...what a laugh. A smattering of education and drinking water for all.
I know I am well off the tourist trail here. The Indonesian people are always so very friendly but here moreso because I am unusual, I stand out just for being what I am. Though I daresay my silly hat helps. People cross the road to greet me or point me out to their friends. One guy I was talking to said I should look at his son "he is almost European, look at his pointed nose!". I couldn't see it personally but who wants a pointed nose anyhow? I think the Indonesian people are as good looking as they are friendly.
Mind you it is like this everywhere I go isn't it? I just like everywhere because for me everywhere is home. Except I do have this longing for mashed potatoes, boiled potatoes, baked potatoes and of course sausages and bacon! But a cottage pie, oh I could die for!
My hotel room is very plush. Much more expensive than I am used to at £11.00 a night. I suppose there must be other hotels in the town but this was the first I found. Smells more than a bit of mothballs (four different colours and sizes in my room) but it is clean and centrally located. It has the biggest bed I have been in yet. Easily fit five...and would hold too. A party bed! H. Hefner would love it. I lay dead centre with my arms widely stretched and there was still room for someone at the end of each.
I ate my evening meal (actually the only thing I have eaten all day) at Warung Ayam Bakar, a temporary setup on a car park under a life sized artificial coconut palm with glowing yellow trunk and flashing red fronds. I ate sitting on the ground with the family who were really lovely people. We did not have any language in common but carried on a conversation all the same. They told me an elephant had died in the zoo recently. I wonder if an autopsy was done. At a guess I would say it was rubbish related.
Typical Indonesian Food Choice
If you have enjoyed reading this article you should move onto the next, entitled ‘Gembira Loka Zoo'. Or you could move back to Baturraden Zoo if you missed it. Please also check out my blog Zoo News Digest.
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