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Penang Bird Park
The Penang Bird Park in Malaysia specialises in Malaysian birds and keeps over 150 endemic species. Since its establishment in 1988 more than 100 of these have bred in this excellent little collection.
In addition to the Malaysian species the Penang Bird Park keeps another 150 bird species from around the world. Altogether around three thousand birds are maintained on the five acre site.
The Bird Park is open every day from nine in the morning to seven in the evening.
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 11th May 2006
Strangely I had another rough night. This was rough in comfort though and makes a difference.
Once I pulled myself together I caught the ferry over to the mainland to visit the Penang Bird Park http://www.penangbirdpark.com.my This was well worth the trip. A lovely planted setting containing many impressive or mature trees as well as being an oasis for many wild birds. A very nice little collection. Again it shows just what can be achieved simply and cheaply to put an aviary together. The bigger zoos so often spend their mega bucks and do it badly. The point is that whoever designed most of these aviaries knew what they were doing and why and what for. I say 'most' because there were some things I did not like, but more of those later.
The signs were excellent. Some of the best I have seen anywhere. Done in house but with a professional appearance. They gave the name in English, Scientific, Malay and Chinese plus distribution and habitat and include that all important map. What's more about 99.5% of the enclosures are labelled.
The aviaries as situated don't need barriers or have them already. All are planted up where necessary, have sufficient imaginative perching and, where appropriate, nesting opportunity. Some of the aviaries, most notably those for the lories, I thought a bit dark and dingy but it was a minor point.
There was little deviation away from the bird theme but some of the aviaries contained tortoises or mouse deer. There was a pond containing Estuarine crocodiles and pens for Reticulated Pythons and Water Monitors. These last two were the worst exhibits in the park and I thought let the side down a bit. The Water Monitor cage told a story. There was fresh blood just inside and lots of it outside and spattered about. Someone must have stuck their finger through the wire to the large animal lying there with a 'butter wouldn't melt in my mouth' expression on its face.
I liked the walk through aviary and liked the 'feed the bird' aviary. This sort of contact enclosure is so very important at getting the public to relate to the animals. Most all of the aviaries were good if some perhaps just a little tired looking. I thought all the Ratite enclosures were too small (two of the Ostrich were bald) and I hated the Flamingo enclosure. No consideration for flight distances there. They must be under stress every time there are visitors in.
But the birds. What a beautiful collection. I would find it difficult to single out what impressed me most. Perhaps it was the Black-Thighed Falconet or the stunning Siamese, Crested and Crestless Fireback Pheasants. Maybe it was the Kingfisher aviary with its four species of Kingfisher. They had more than twenty species of doves and pigeon, ten species of hornbill and more species of bul-bul than you could shake a cape at.
Towards the end of my visit I caught the bird show. This was a 'training' session as the girl doing the spiel was relying on notes and was not used to the microphone. As a show it was pretty hopeless and consisted mainly in bringing out birds and introducing them. It was, I felt, a lost educational opportunity. If they could only go down the lines of Paradise Park, Hayle, Cornwall, I think they would be on to a winner.
The staff were all extremely helpful and friendly and I daresay if I had hung about a bit I may have got a date or two.
Late afternoon I booked a ticket on the fast ferry to Langkawi. I am only going up there for the day.
Penang Bird Park
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