Thursday, January 13, 2011

Zoo Negara Ulu Klang





Getting started:

Our very own Zoo Negara is located within a sprawling 110 acres of land in Ulu Klang, just north of Kuala Lumpur and situated in a somewhat mixed jungle-concrete landscape. For Malaysians, the Malaysian Zoological Society will charge you RM20 for adults and RM6 for kids (Zoo only and includes the animal show); and RM25 adults and RM9 kids to add extra entrances into the Insect Zoo and Butterfly Park.

click to enlarge

Remember to show your MyKad (everyone in your group must show) to prove you're Malaysians, so if you're in a large group and only one person is queuing, please collect all MyKads to avoid being turned away at the ticketing counter or worse, being asked to pay the foreigners' rate (almost RM10 more expensive).

F is for FOC

You will get to wear wristbands which you have to verify at the entrance gate, which is quite cool and contemporary. And if anyone is celebrating their birthday on that day, also inform the ticketing counter to get FREE admission. Our daughter turned three during our visit, and she got in free!

Also, disable people get in free and senior citizens get a big discount. So get everyone in your family to join in the fun and educational trip to Zoo Negara!

There are also ample parking at the Zoo, with two parking areas (at Gate A and Gate B) - so do not park haphazardly outside the area. The parking fee is also minimal, and there will parking attendants to guide you on where and even HOW to park, during peak hours.

There are two entrances to the Zoo, Gate A and Gate B. If possible, try to enter via Gate A as it brings you straight into the Zoo's main area while Gate B will bring you to the Aquarium and Animal Show Theater. The best hour to visit Zoo Negara is as soon as it opens, that is at 9.00 a.m. There will be enough trees and gazebos to provide shade and shelter, but as the day goes on, you will feel tired.


The Zoo is home to almost 5000 animals from 400 different species, and most them are placed in spacious exhibit areas. The Zoo compound is large too, so be prepared to walk a bit, and bring a lot of water especially if you have kids in tow. Our advice is also to plan where and what your family would like to see and visit the most, and which exhibits and attractions to skip. Plan your trip around the Zoo as soon as you enter the gates.

Attractions:

Once you enter, immediately buy tram tickets, costing RM3 adults and RM2 children (again, with MyKads). You can start by taking the tram ride as it will make two stops along the Zoo at designated tram stations. Alternatively, you can do it like us - we walked around the Zoo first and then took the tram for one complete round before going home. It is better this way during peak seasons, as the tram stations will be packed with tired people waiting for trams to take them back to the main gates. 

If you decide to take the tram at the end of your trip, now you must decide where to go in the Zoo. It very much depends on what you'd like to see. If you want to see the Aquarium, Animal Show, Children's World or Penguins - the take the right turn. But if you'd like to see the giraffes, elephants and the Lake, then turn left. The main stars of the Zoo, the lions and the tigers, are also much nearer if you follow the path on the left.


We took the path on the right, and was greeted by the many monkeys and apes. The magnificent horn bills are next on the exhibit enclosure area. Then we reached the Animal Show Theater, which had already started, but being the school holidays, was so packed we couldn't get a peek at all. Unfortunately, the shows are also limited to only two shows per day, at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Next, we found the Penguins' aquarium, before entering the Tunku Abdul Rahman Aquarium. You can skip this, as the old aquarium's building is quite small, cramped, suffocating, stuffy and unsuitable for children. Walk a bit more and you will discover the Bear Complex, and see the bears having fun and relaxing under the sun. By this time and distance, you should already be feeling the heat, so take a rest at the kiosks.


When you do continue, try not to miss the Savannah Walk, a large open concept exhibition area created like the safari, which is home to giraffes, zebras and antelopes. But some of the animals might be lazy and would prefer to sleep anyway, but you will appreciate the unique Savannah area which makes you feel the animals are close by, instead of them being in cages.


When you approach the Cat Walk area, if you're lucky, you might hear the roars of the tigers and the lions. Naturally, this is the main attraction of Zoo Negara, and the exhibit area is so crowded. Take your time here, be patient, and you will find a nice spot to view the tigers and lions, or wait for them to come near (if they're not sleeping). The big cats are truly majestic animals, true kings of the jungle, and you might want to spend more time here. 

We ended our journey in Zoo Negara with one tram ride around the zoo, which we felt was a better way to appreciate the surroundings after a tiring walk. The Zoo might lack the modern facilities and need more attractions - but the kids will love it here. It will be a rewarding educational trip for them, and perhaps for the whole family.

Tips:

- Bring lots of water
- Wear comfortable shoes
- Make sure everyone has MyKad/ MyKid
- Buy tram tickets
- Arrive early and see animal show at 11 a.m.
- Do not miss Savannah, tigers, lions, elephants - kids love 'em the most!



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