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Baturraden Zoo

Updated on October 14, 2011

Baturraden Zoo is outside the resort town of Baturraden which is situated on the slopes of Slamet mountain, the second highest mountain in Java, Indonesia . It is a very scenic area and with the cooler climate makes it popular as both as a weekend and longer term local tourist destination. People come here to trek and to enjoy the hot springs, forests and beautiful scenery.

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.

The two animal photos I include here were not taken in the Batturaden zoo. The zoo was worse!


Friday 30th June 2006
I had been told that there were three direct buses a day leaving for Purwokerto. These left at seven, eight and nine in the morning. I decided to catch the earliest one and caught a rickshaw to the bus station at six thirty.
I am actually a lot better this morning. It feels like I have been punched in the face and beaten all over my body (something like a prefects beating at boarding school), but on the whole I feel I am on the mend.
As it happened there was a bus about to leave just as I arrived at six forty. I don't know if it was the one I was told about but caught it anyway. This was a local bus for local people, and chickens, which visited every village and market en route. The roads taken were nearly all 'F' class (using the British A and B road classification). It was an uncomfortable, but memorable and interesting journey, which, at just over three hours was much shorter than I anticipated.
Before I left I saw a beggar girl lying at the bus station. Just a bundle of bones, rags and dirt really. I gave her some money, not that she asked. She was very obviously mentally disturbed and in need of protection. I have seen three others like her in Pangandaran. Very different facially to the local people and without any obvious homes or possessions. These were, I thought, much worse off than the street people in India.
It has been preying on my mind but happily the first ATM in Purwokerto provided me with money so I struck out for Baturraden.

When you see a really bad zoo it puts the other bad zoos in the good category into a new light. 'Baturraden Zoo' on the slopes of Gunung Slamet is amongst the worst zoos I have ever visited. Never heard of it? Neither had I. I discovered its location by accident when planning my move on from Pangandaran. My visit there has also given clue to another zoo I was unaware of so there may be another revision of my route.
Baturraden Zoo is set within a popular Javan recreation resort. There is an entry fee for the park and another for the zoo. Combined the cost is still only about £0.40.
There wasn't much to the zoo and it was maybe 2-3 acres in all, most of it garden. As there was so little I will take the unusual step of listing:

Photo by:
Photo by:

There was a single riding elephant housed in a circular 'garden' pit. At one end was the open sided house. I could see no evidence of it leaving this container. The only exercise the unfortunate animal must ever get is when it trails round the circle with visitors on its back. It was chained, unusually, around the neck. As the animal was rugged I could not ascertain its condition.

a single large male pigtail macaque in a tiny cage. His canines had been pulled.
A couple of crocs in a tiny muddy pool being terrorised by small boys with big sticks. I told them off, but for what use?
3 pythons in adjoining (actually suitably sized) awful cages.
2 sheep in heavy barred menagerie type cage.
1 cassowary.
2 porcupines.
2 green peafowl.
1 fruit bat
1 female pigtail macaque.
1 Anglo Nubian goat.
3 guinea fowl.
1 three year old male orangutan in an absolutely horrible little cage.
1 Brahminy kite. Standing room only. No way to spread wings.
1 sambar deer.
1 cassowary.
1 peafowl.
2 guinea fowl.
1 pigtail macaque
1 female Celebes macaque.
1 gibbon. Uncertain as to sex or species. Hopeless, useless little cage.
1 pigtail macaque.
1 dove.
1 Crab eating macaque. Chained to a sort of mini dovecote arrangement. Trench worn in the ground.

The whole collection was dirty. There were a few signs which I could not read. No enclosures had barriers and all could be walked right around. Nothing could get away from attention. Anything could be teased to death if the persecutors wished. These were conditions far worse than those usually inflicted on palm civets in other collections. Some animals had food of poor quality and limited amount and variety. Nothing had any water. As far as I could see the majority of cages had nowhere that water could be kept. Forget enrichment or even a modicum comfort this was just one bloody awful place.

At some of the zoos I have visited the visitors can purchase fruit and veg. Not here. Junk food for human consumption in abundance otherwise I may have gone back with a wheelbarrow load. What to do? Well I have made my report here. I don't speak Indonesian. I hope someone who does will/can do something. So far there hasn't been even a blink of interest following my comments on the Orangutans in Ragunan zoo so don't hold your breath.

Note: By October of 2009 I had drawn the attention to the plight of the Orangutans in Ranugan several times without any action being taken.

Did I make my feelings about Batturaden Zoo known? Yes, to the three people who understood my word "rubbish" to describe the zoo. Poverty was claimed. Fair enough I said but even that should not prevent the availability of clean drinking water, or even drinking water per se.
Having said all that and in no way trying to forgive the conditions in which these animals are held but I find it more easy to accept exploitation and cruelty (in all senses of the world) which is inflicted in ignorance than that which is a result of the 'big boys' making a fast buck at the expense of animals as in Safari World at Koh Kong in Cambodia for example, or Safari World in Bangkok for that matter.

Forever is a long time - In a bad zoo

After the zoo visit I thought I would have a bite to eat. As the hotel has no restaurant I ate in a little shed by the roadside. As there was a language problem I just said feed me, not too much, and a cup of tea. So I was given a huge dish of rice, noodles, meat and vegetables accompanied by a large glass of scented tea. Cost? £0.20! Extremely good value. I must admit though that I am getting sick of rice. I have never included it amongst my favourite foods. It is funny stuff. When you get good rice, and I mean really good rice, you wouldn't want to ever eat anything else. I include myself here. Sadly though most is mediocre to poor.

One of the points on the news I have been meaning to mention but haven't, probably because I have got so used to it is 'The Mud'. About a week before I arrived in Indonesia some engineers were drilling an exploratory gas well outside of Surabaya. What they actually found was mud...'The Mud'. Ever since then it has been pouring, stinking, spreading out of the ground, spreading over roads and farmland. No-one knows what to do about it. It has figured in the news daily and has become something of a tourist attraction. Personally I think it is like something from a science fiction movie.

After dinner I went back to my hotel. The day had caught up with me. I was feeling very weak again. I lay on my bed watching 'Indonesian Idol' on the TV. What? Of course there is. There's a 'Singapore Idol' too. It's not just the West.

This hotel is very modern, comfortable, and reasonably priced. It does not have a restaurant though or anywhere to get a hot drink. It is also quite noisy. Out the back is a very popular club which was drawing people in to the early hours of the morning. As with nearly everywhere I seem to stay the corridors outside got very busy with the clippety clip of high heels coming and going for a time.

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

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Submit a Comment

  • Peter Dickinson profile image

    Peter Dickinson 8 years ago from South East Asia

    Thank you dohn121 - Enjoyed your interview too. Take care.

  • bingskee profile image

    bingskee 8 years ago from Quezon City, Philippines

    it made me sad looking at the last pic. how can a zoo be maintained like this when it should serve a purpose of not only entertaining but caring for the animals?

  • dohn121 profile image

    dohn121 8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

    I would rate your overall experience over at the Baturraden Zoo as depressing--that is the animals seemed to be in either case. I wonder, is it the lack of money that is preventing these animals from having a proper habitat?

    Shame about the rice, Peter! I wish I could've helped you there. I guess that you got what you paid for! Thanks for sharing.