Semarang Zoo

The Semarang Zoo is yet another of those collections which has two names. It was also known as the Tinjomoyo Margaraya Zoo. The collection was moved there in 1985 following the closure of the old Tegel Wareng zoo. In 1991 it officially opened on this new site on 65 hectares of land outside the city of Semarang in Java, Indonesia. Just when you think you have got to grips with what is a fairly recent zoo move it was moved yet again in 2005 to a yet another new site, this one at Mangkang. So the present set up is one zoo with two different names ie Semarang Zoo and Mangkang Zoo. Why all the moves? Who knows? Perhaps trying to escape Bird Flu or plastic bags.

The present zoo is believed to hold around 300 specimens representing over seventy species.

It is a very popular collection and draws a lot of visitors. Very sadly the place has been dropping to bits since it was built. The lack of supervision means that feeding of junk food as well as plastic bags and other rubbish goes on unhindered. There have been several deaths attributed to ingestion of plastic.

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.

Thursday 6th July 2006


The three hour minibus ride to Semarang this morning took five and a half hours. Sometimes it is probably better to pass up on the convenience and comfort for speed. No matter though, if I had gone any other way I would not have met Eeka, a truly lovely Indonesian girl.


It was mid afternoon when I eventually got to my hotel so after dumping my backpack I headed straight on out to Semarang Zoo. This turned out to be much further out of the town than I imagined and, much smaller.

I was told that the collection had moved to this 'new' site only recently. I don't actually believe this. I suppose it depends what you mean by 'new' or 'recent'. There are certainly new cages there but there are also very old, rotten, dropping to bits, unoccupied ones. The 'new' is certainly happening though. This was the busiest zoo I have been to. There were new paths and steps being constructed all through the heavily sloped site. They look good. All the horrible little cages were having new coats of gaudy paint. This just served to make them 'pretty horrible'. More than one of the occupants were now a colour which nature had not intended for them. The paint pots? Naturally they are just thrown on the ground amongst the other rubbish.

 * I am at a loss to explain why, if the zoo had only recently moved here as to why there were really old cages here. Was there perhaps a private or other zoo on the site before or had someone decided to move the awful cages from one of the previous zoos and set them up here. A horrible thought but I think I may be right.


The 'zoo' site also contains a small newly constructed boating lake and swimming pool. A plaque close by said 2004 something. I imagine this is more of what the 'new' referred to than anything else. Running between these are some nasty little heavy cast 'parrot' cages containing cockatoos. Emphasis on the 'nasty little'. No barriers of course, and containing very sorry sad little specimens. Close by is a recently constructed aviary block. Actually this was not bad in principle. Somebody had actually seen a modern aviary before it was built. Sadly that was where the input stopped and the set up has been allowed to go downhill from, I imagine, day one. There was a single Cassowary here and also, oddly a very big Salt-water crocodile in a nasty muddy, stagnant, dirty and too small pool. The remainder was Eclectus and miscellaneous cockatoos.


Getting away to the zoo slope. This was an up, down and across site. Each little path leads to one of the 'pretty horrible' cages. These are in fact heavily meshed, badly constructed, inadequate old cages and no amount of coloured paint is going to hide that. Setting these up on concrete plinths does not make them bigger. Four foot high will never be high enough for the separately held Siamang and two Gibbons. The similar sized and designed cages are barely adequate for the odd chicken, Serpent Eagle, Goose or dove that most of the cages hold. A sorry little place.


I progressed back to the town via a progression of small buses and a rickshaw. A hooker tried to pick me up en route. Glad I am not losing my touch (or more likely that haunted desperate look).


A quick bite to eat. My first food today. I am just not hungry, or oddly, thirsty these days. Back at the hotel I crashed out for four hours solid. Woke, slept again on and off most of the night. Refreshed.

If you have enjoyed reading this article you should move onto the next, entitled ‘Surabaya Zoo'. Or you could move back to Solo Zoo if you missed it. Please also check out my blog Zoo News Digest.

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Comments 5 comments

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

Shame about this zoo, Peter. If you ever suspect that something isn't right, it's usually because it isn't.

I'm glad that you were able to get "refreshed" without the help of that hooker, Peter. So what about the Indonesian girl?


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia Author

Actually I was reminded of Eeka the other day when I met a Thai girl call Eatmee. I am not a kiss and tell sort of guy though dohn121. I am reserving all that for 'my' book if I ever write it.

The zoo was a mess and needed to be tipped on its head and given a really good shake.


Russell-D profile image

Russell-D 7 years ago from Southern Ca.

Peter -- keep up the reporting and the screaming. Hopefully, someone along the way will care enough to care enough. David Russell


fastfreta profile image

fastfreta 7 years ago from Southern California

Very good hub, however I'm sad to hear about the not so tidy surroundings of some of the animals. I must check out your other hubs on your zoo experiences. Thanks for taking us along on your many adventures.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia Author

Thank you fastfreta - In spite of the 'bad' I remark on in many zoos most people mean well but just know no better. One off education at the place of work will not work. It needs staff to go and work in a good zoo for three months to start to understand. Then there is always a bit of corruption and poverty to blame too

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