Solo Zoo

Solo Zoo like the city in which it is located is also known as Surakarta Zoo. Just to add a little further confusion it is also known by a third title, the Jurug Zoo. Surakarta City is located two thirds of the way down the Isand of Java in Indonesia. Smaller than many it has a population of around half a million people.

The Solo Zoo is a SEAZA member. The collection covers an area of some 14 hectares and was moved to its present site at the edge of the Solo river in 1976 and built upon the site of a former motor cross circuit. The original collection which was established in 1901 belonged to the King of Solo.

Over the past few years this collection has had bad press as a result of its very poor supervision of visitors.

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.

Wednesday 5th July 2006


Solo Zoo. This was yet another of those parched earth and big tree sites. Looking at the archaic design of most of the housing I would say whoever built the Ragunan zoo had an influence here. Or perhaps someone copied his 'inspirational' design. It's easy for me to say but then I daresay back in the 30's it was the way most zoos were. (n.b. I learnt later that the zoo moved to this, its present site, only two or three years ago. What an awful thought. There was this grand opportunity to actually do something right and instead this classic horror was created).
There is an abundance of rubbish here. It is all over the place, lying about. Equally there are a huge number of food providers, either static or wandering about. The central lake is a green stagnant festering mess of plastic bags.
The first enclosure you meet on entering is that for the elephants. It is a pit, but a big pit, and all grassy and green. Perhaps 2.5-3.0 acres in all. It is safe, secure, escape proof and just plain nice. Sadly the two big elephants here have never walked, lain or rolled here and I have to ask why? It is that old established mindset again. The director needs to do some re-educating here. The unfortunate elephants, which looked in good nick were chained in their open sided 'house'. There was room here for several animals. There probably was once. Not so far away is another elephant 'pit' which now holds a few deer. In fact there were deer dotted all over.

The other half decent enclosure was a moated one for tigers. Plenty of room, clean and neat. It just needed a bit of genuine wood for them to sharpen their claws. As far as I could tell there were just two lucky occupants of this enclosure. The other four tigers I saw were held singly in far from satisfactory accommodation of various degrees of horribleness. Sharing the same sort of set up and arrangement were a Leopard and a pair of Lions.
The three Sun Bears were in similar totally unsuitable and inadequate housing.
From a public point of view all these carnivores except the first mentioned tigers, were a danger to every visitor. With no barrier to speak of and only a hint of supervision (at least I saw a keeper) this is a tragedy waiting to happen.
The 'bird house' wasn't too bad. At least the theory wasn't. With a modicum of know how it could actually look attractive. Right now it is a waste of time for both man and beast. currently it holds a breeding group of Night Herons and the odd Eclectus, Palm Cockatoo and Wreathed Hornbill.

Solo Zoo

 There are single Hippo and Pygmy Hippo here as well. The accommodation is just adequate. The Pygmy Hippo enclosure was almost attractive but it is just too small for more.
The aquarium was a horrible place. Happily half of it was closed. Out the back was a croc 'pit' containing a few animals.
The barriers were token as were the very few signs which were dotted about.
There was a very big Salt-water crocodile of about 4 metres jammed into a tiny pool.
The worst Small-clawed Otter accommodation I have come across housing a single unfortunate animal. One Komodo on its own. Unusual.
Crocs dotted all over the spot. Two Sun Bears in a totally inadequate cage.
Two Orang-utans housed separately in small moated outside enclosures. These were sterile, boring and totally inadequate. The big male was at his wits end with frustration and was busy demolishing his accommodation. The inside denning was cramped and truly, truly awful. It was possible to approach this from the back of the building and have direct contact with the animals.
The run of deer pens were far too small and several animals were held alone. There was a group of 10 Timor though and then 5 Axis and 3 Muntjac elsewhere. On the same run there was another group of 14 Padmelon.
Lots of primates dotted about, usually housed as ones though there was the occasional group. There was a single especially attractive 'silver' Javan Gibbon. I admit though that without any form of guide that some of these Gibbons throw me completely as to identity.
Chickens and Guinea Fowl were popular and there was a dozen or so aviaries turned over to these. The inevitable Peafowl and Cassowaries too of course. Camels, Banteng, Horses. More cramped monkeys waiting their lives away.
Special mention should be made of the taxidermy specimens held in a glass sided house near the entrance. Without doubt there are the worst preserved examples I have ever had the misfortune to see.
In the evening I met Chris, an Australian student. Nice guy and easy to chat too. When I thought about it Chris was the first native English speaker I have had a conversation with since Bogor back on the 21st (2 weeks ago). We were joined by Alun, a Dutch law teacher and had spent an interesting evening swapping stories over a few beers.

If you have enjoyed reading this article you should move onto the next, entitled ‘Semarang Zoo'. Or you could move back to Gembira Loka 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

My heart goes out to these poor animals Peter. The conditions here are crude, uninviting, and overly cramped, not to mention outdated, unsanitary, and dreary. Seeing the video (which I thank you for supplying) really says it all. Thanks for sharing this with us.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia Author

dohn121 - zoos are important (other than conservation) and especially so in Muslim countries. On the whole they are a non political, non religious, non pornographic safe place for families to get together. I just wish they were not so proud to seek advice and take guidance from the Five Freedoms.


Russell-D profile image

Russell-D 7 years ago from Southern Ca.

Peter -- your description of a zoo we missed along the way, was nicely framed and with your pictures gave the sense of what you were living at the moment. Beyond the moment, what dohn121 says and your reply covers so many zoos we did see we wished we hadn't. The only zoo that truly satisfied us was the bush in Africa, where we tourists were in a moving cage while the animals roamed free. David Russell


Vizey profile image

Vizey 7 years ago

Nice hub zoo has its own charm no words i needed to define it. It itself describes the beauty of nature.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia Author

Russell-D - Thanks for your comments. Sadly too that much of the Bush today is not as free as people think.

Vizey - Thank you

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