Taman Safari Indonesia
The Taman Safari Indonesia is located just outside the city of Bogor some 80 Km from Jakarta. There is another Taman Safari called the original name of 'Taman Safari Indonesia II' located in the South of the country nearer to Surabaya.
The Bogor Taman Safari Indonesia is located halfway up a mountain not far from Cisarua. It is a big collection set in a tropical forest and covers some 168 hectares. It is open from 08.30 - 16.30 every day. In view of distances involved as well as time to enjoy your visit it is highly advisable that you stay at one of the hotels in the area for a couple of nights. They also have a 'Night Safari' which you could take advantage of.
This collection is a member of WAZA, was chair of SEAZA* and has hosted a CSBG meeting.
You may get excited when you spot the Javan Rhino listed on their list of animals. They don't have any.
* The SEAZA website is a waste of space. Unchanging it has been featuring Bali Safari and Marine Park as the member of the month for month after month after month.Plus the same stale news.
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.
Monday 19th June 2006
Arriving in Bogor hungry. Went out to get something to eat. I reckon I must have booked into one of my rare respectable hotels. I worked this out from the sign in the lobby, "Sorry, no short time". Unless of course this indicates that only viagra users are welcome. Seriously though I really have not found a place that I didn't like on my travels. Sometimes it takes a day or two, at times it is instantaneous and more often than not after a few hours. Once I had settled into my room, I checked out the neighbourhood. Then a bite to eat and back to my veranda to rest and read.
From there I could see a multitude of kites being skilfully played in the skies. I had noticed during my walk an equal number caught up in trees or telephone wires. None much bigger than an A4 piece of paper it is nothing short of amazing that they coax them up into the sky without a hint of a breeze.
Tonight I saw my first Javan sunset. I could not see a rise or fall for big buildings in Jakarta. Here is hardly the most romantic setting but I have never seen a sun as big or as blood red before. Years ago I was told that the only reason we get a red sunset anywhere in the world was due to the dust from Krakatoa still hanging in the air. I didn't believe it then and I don't believe it now but I almost do. Karakatoa is just down the road apiece, so to speak.
Bogor is a strange place. Now, not much more than the extended suburb of Jakarta. It was described by Sir Stamford Raffles as "a romantic little village". It now has a certain repute as the place where 322 electrical storms occur each year. I suppose it is likely I will see at least one if I stay for three days. As I am not so much on the tourist trail the people I meet are extra friendly. That's not to say they weren't friendly in Jakarta because they most definitely were. Taxis are a rarity in Bogor, instead the city is served by a fleet of dilapidated minibuses called Angutan Kota. They have specific numbers and broadly stick to the same routes which you can go right round for a fixed charge.
Tonight at dinner I was served a small dish of chillies as a side dish. I don't really like them like this. Within a meal they can enhance some flavours and improve a meal and some dishes would be lost without them. On the side though I look on them as a challenge and will either eat them all or pick a little. Some are hot, some are very hot and some very very hot. Tonight they were from the core of hell itself. I knew I had made a mistake once I had put a small forkful in my mouth. Being polite I didn't spit but chewed a little and swallowed. Meanwhile my ears lit up, my head ran with sweat, I cried, my nose took off to some other planet and I lost my voice....just as well or I would have cried out in pain. Somehow I returned to earth and was able to continue the meal. I will be extra cautious in Indonesia.
Axis axis in the park in Bogor
Tuesday 20th June 2006
This morning I had arranged to meet up with P I. for a coffee and chat and arrange my visit to Taman Safari tomorrow. I said I would be at her place of work for nine o'clock. I was in the vicinity at quarter to, but it was nearly two hours later that I actually arrived. Walking round in circles asking for directions, first being pointed one way and then another but never actually reaching the spot. Eventually I arrived and we had a constructive and interesting chat and arranged to meet again in the evening.
I then caught a lift over to the zoological museum, which was interesting. A lot of sadly preserved specimens but included a full skeleton of a Blue Whale. There was also a quite well mounted specimen of a 'Javan' rhino which, as the last survivor of its species in a certain region had been shot and preserved rather than let it be poached and "lost to science". It struck me that there a lot of species which will be lost to science if PETA and its ilk have their way. Short of a dramatic decrease in the worlds human population, the wild places are going to go. I was a popular visitor to the museum. There were three large parties of 16 year old female students. All of them wanted their photos taken with me and my arms around their shoulders. Twenty three photos and one fixed grin later I made my escape. Actually it was fun to be a 'star' for a while but I'm glad that I'm not one in reality. Incidentally , not one of the cameras used was digital.
Outside someone was selling a couple of palm civets which were in a tiny cramped cage with scarcely room to turn. Looked at from this perspective the worst palm civet accommodation I have seen in zoos was luxury by comparison.
From here I moved round to the Botanical Gardens. They are particularly attractive because they are set right in the middle of the city. A city, sadly, which has more than its fair share of rubbish and poverty. As such the gardens are a sea of calm. Just inside the gate was a monument to Sir Stamford Raffles wife, Olivia Mariamne who died of malaria in 1814. It interested me not just for the Raffles connection but as it was my daughters first name and the first four letters of her second.
The orchid house was worth a look. The lakes and lilies were striking but the river running through was badly polluted. And yet I saw people fishing, bathing and washing clothes in it. One guy vigorously brushing his teeth and rinsing with the water made my stomach churn.
There must have been a mega storm fairly recently as there twenty or so really big trees that had blown over. The parks department were making them safe. At one edge of the park is an area set aside for deer, in this case Axis axis. It is probably the biggest herd of deer I have seen anywhere, including farms. They looked in very good condition. The place they are in looked very much like an estate at a country house in the UK. I wondered though, why Axis? True, they are amongst the prettiest of deer, but there are Indonesian species which need attention.
There were yet more 'Peter in' photos on the walk back to my hotel. Total strangers who engaged me in conversation who, minutes later wanted to be photographed with me. It is a funny old world.
In the evening I made my way back to the school (that was an adventure in itself) to catch up with P and meet her husband R. He works out in Taman Safari. I then went home with them for a snack, a couple of glasses of red wine and a chat. Nice to meet the dogs and cats too. We spent an interesting couple of hours exchanging stories and jokes. They did offer to put me up for the night but as I had already paid for my very comfortable room it seemed a pity to waste it. One of their students took me back to my hotel on a motorbike.
It was my intention when I started travelling to record my observations, my thoughts, my opinions for my own record but also for the interest of some amongst my friends, family and colleagues. I have remained faithful to that. When and where I visited zoos it was never intended to be a critique, just to be honest. Inevitably if my thoughts or opinions differ with zoo policy then criticism has crept in. I make no apologies. If I were to write any different it would be a lie... and to lie to myself in a personal journal is just plain daft.
I would say that I am constantly aware that I am not aware of the full facts and can only interpret based on those I do have plus more than a few years of practical experience which allow me to 'see' deeper than the average Joe. I do at all times make allowances for cultural differences. Here it is, at times, a bit difficult. If cultural differences mean cruelty in whatever guise then it gets back to what I was saying at the beginning of this paragraph.... record my observations, my thoughts, my opinions..... It's a bit of a circle. I suppose my biggest advantage is that I 'work' for myself. I am not beholden to anyone so I can take the censure without fear of employer retribution. I suppose it may mess things up a bit when I eventually start looking for another job though. C'est la vie
I have been taken to task a few times now by people in the zoo world for my criticism of certain zoos. There have been implied threats as well as direct threats and 'a quiet word in his ear' type of thing. It does not matter, I will say it as I see it. Sadly there are many in the West who think that the rest of the world are behind. No they are not many of these countries are as civilised or more civilised than many in the West. There really is no need to try an excuse things.
Wednesday 21st June 2006
R picked me up from the hotel as arranged and I spent today in the Taman Safari Indonesia http://www.tamansafari.com
This is located on the site of an old tea plantation half way up a dormant volcano on the outskirts of Cisarua, near to Bogor. Being at an elevation it is much cooler and pleasant than Jakarta and the plains below. At the same time it is distinctly tropical and covered in thick vegetation. This is credit to the founders of the park who some twenty years ago planted all the now established trees and foliage you can see today. Nature has provided an attractive, and clean, stream which bubbles through the site. The Ewoks have helped to improve the general appearance with the construction of artificial trees, rocks and lianas. Some are good, some are very good. Some have been in place for so long that real plants are growing on them giving life and looks. These Ewoks were very good at their work indeed, credit to them. Fine job.
Initially I went round the Safari trail in the park alone. Then I met up with R again and we progressed around the widely dispersed collection and amusements partly by jeep and foot.
The safari trail was nice in parts. I thought the ground was 'tired' in most due to overgrazing or overstocking. Perhaps this problem will be eliminated when the new park opens in Bali and animals are moved there.
There was an abundance of Hippos. This seems to be the case practically everywhere I go. They breed so well and are hardy. There does need to be some overall serious management of the captive population before welfare issues arise.
When I first started work in UK zoos there were still Chimpanzee tea parties, Elephant rides, Dolphin shows, Parrot shows and the like. I myself took Elephants to petrol stations, Lions to model shoots, Bears to birthday parties and Camels to fun days and more. I have worked directly or indirectly with dolphins, killer whale, sea lions, bears, birds of prey, penguins and more in show settings. Today some things have changed, some remain the same. We have moved on. It is a different world. I am not sorry, I am pleased. At the same time I don't regret the experiences I have had. What it does do is give me a far better perspective on animals in 'show' settings than your average Joe. I can see both sides of the coin.
So why am I rambling on about this? Simply because today I watched animal shows of a certain genre for the first time in many years. *I saw animals (tigers, orangutans etc) available for photograph sessions and didn't like it. Whether I liked it or not is irrelevant though because I am in a different country with different laws, different culture and a different background. What is acceptable here, now, was acceptable in the UK thirty plus years ago. It is no longer the case. This isn't the UK though. This isn't the US or Spain, or Egypt or India. This is Indonesia. Taman Safari is in the genre of Flamingoland and Chessington World of Adventures. A commercial zoo exploring many avenues of entertainment, some of which are innovative and interesting.
I can see a need for and accept certain forms of positive reinforcement training of captive animals being essential from the point of view of management and also as enrichment for an active mind. If this is tied to an educational presentation then I see nothing wrong and would even encourage it. There are certain species for which it is acceptable and somewhere it is definitely not. Anything which humiliates animals by making them appear as funny little humans or exhibit abnormal behaviour for human laughs is, to me, completely and totally unacceptable. Anything which is achieved by negative reinforcement is also definitely a no no. So the mixed animal show I saw here today I did not like. I won't dispute that the training is clever but Orangutans dancing? Degrading! Dogs dancing? Horrible! I know the public loved it, of course they did, they know no better. What do you expect? The world is being brought up on low intellect TV programmes like the 'World's Funniest Animals' and its ilk. Now I know for a fact that the behaviours exhibited can be brought about by positive reinforcement but I would question whether this was in use here. The dogs were not 'happy' and neither were the orangutans.
I took an interested study of the elephant 'show'. It was well presented and put together. It was actually teaching! And people were learning. The behaviours shown were not demanding and just the sort of thing to keep an intelligent mind active. The girls presenting the show were excellent and I have to admire their use of English in the shows. How many UK collections use another language in tandem? The elephant show eventually lost me when it reached then circus type yoga. Sorry not my taste at all. It did however set me thinking. None of the positions (apart from standing on hind legs) are something that I have not seen elephants go into at their own behest at one time or another. So as part of a daily 'show' yoga exercise routine could this be beneficial for long term health? Surely the answer is yes. That said I don't like elephant shows. Far better to have them in well managed family groups doing what comes naturally.
The sealion show was well put together, but again a very circussy presentation. Far better to introduce and condition behaviours which will be of long term animal/species benefit. Nothing would be lost but so much gained. I thought the pool too much of an 'arena' too. But then so few zoos provide Sea lions with what could be considered 'naturalistic settings. The male sealion here had the longest whiskers I have seen in any of this species. Very impressive.
There was a 'Cat' show here too but in a very full day I didn't have time to see it. I doubt I would have liked it, but who knows.
The subterranean reptile and nocturnal house was clean, pleasant and well presented. I thought some of the exhibits were too small. Why keep three large pythons in a too small exhibit when the next much larger one held a single freaky mutation? Perhaps because it was a mutation.
There was a single bull Stellers Sea Lion. A gift from a Japanese zoo. Nice looking animal but it brought this whole question of 'gifting' surplus to the fore in my mind. It is so very very wrong. An ability to deal with the real solutions to surplus which remain breeding prevention and euthanasia is something zoos must accept. It is not solving the problem just to dump it on someone else. Sorry, did I say 'dump'? I meant 'gift' of course.
Off public view is a remarkable holding station for Sumatran Tigers, a valuable genetic bank. These are all wild animals which have killed and had to be removed from the areas they inhabit or be killed themselves.
Also off show is a truly brilliant Leopard enclosure. This holds a few animals which have visited by night and killed stock within the park. To begin with these were trapped and taken many miles away before being released. They returned time and again. Rather than kill them they have been placed here. Lucky leopards for it is a great set up.
The provision for the zoo leopards is mainly good too. The cage for the Black Leopards in the Safari area is very nice indeed and my first fleeting impression put it in my number one spot for Leopard enclosures. Sadly this was not my opinion of the Amur Leopard pen. A beautiful specimen in cramped conditions. Very poor show.
On the whole I thought the collection to be quite nice. It was clean, neat and tidy with next to no rubbish seen, on site. Excellent toilets and catering facilities. A good atmosphere. The signage was good too. I was interested to note that they provide heating for their Komodo Dragons and actually keep their Red Pandas outdoors.
There was an unusual mixed enclosure with Orangutans, Gibbon and Sambar. Seemed to be working well.
In my tour of the collection I was introduced to many members of staff. It struck me how happy they all were. These are people who are being looked after my their employer. I was also interested to learn that the zoo maintenance department has taken schools in the surrounding area under its wing. Repairs are expensive and sometimes impossible, but the zoo sorts them in a trice. I think that's admirable. The zoo, as far as is possible use just local produce to feed the animals. Public feeding is allowed, but just with certain items. There are numerous stalls leading up to the park selling these.
Meat for the carnivores is imported from Australia and this is all Kangaroo.
This remarkable company has its irons in many fires. They have another collection close to Surabaya and are opening another one soon in Bali. All the more remarkable when you consider that less than ten years ago the collection was begging for assistance as the animals were starving. What a comeback! Taman Safari is certainly popular. On the day of my visit it was very crowded. There is probably no collection in a better position in Indonesia to re-educate Joe Public. This would not mean reducing the number of shows or even the 'tricks', but rather to replace them with 'behaviours' which do not degrade, humanise or give the false impression. Just my opinion.
I must admit to feeling a touch of guilt in voicing my opinions about Taman Safari in particular because the staff of the park and my hosts were so kind and welcoming. However I am going to say things as I see it. I will not lie.
To much of a circus
Some Videos Below
In researching this hub I have gone through some appalling and ignorant comments. Lots of videos too. All this white tiger nonsense repeated. Constant unnecessary and unkind animal handling.
A lonely dolphin
Stupid and unnecessary
Cruel and unkind
Oh what a lovely day.....NOT!
If you have enjoyed reading this article you should move onto the next, entitled ‘Bandung Zoo‘. Or you could move back to Seaworld Indonesia if you missed it. Please also check out my blog Zoo News Digest.
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