Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Panther! Stand beside one in Taiping!

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(I told you that I was standing beside a big “hungry looking” panther – so close that I could easily put my fingers in and touch the animal. I did not try my luck. The panthers were behind a cage and the cats have just been fed, phew!)

I had been planning to take son to the zoo for some time now. He is now able to recognise the different types of animals from the TV shows (such as the Big Bird in Sesame Street) and we thought it would be good if he could see the animals in real (as long as he does not ask about Big Bird).

The opportunity was there when we traveled back to Taiping for the holidays. We planned to take him to the Taiping Zoo - it will be my 2nd trip to the zoo. The 1st trip was made just after we got married and we took the afternoon scroll in the park before venturing into the zoo (I will talk about it someday – I was exhausted after walking few kilometers).

So, when we reached Taiping on a Saturday morning, we were thinking of going to the zoo in the evening about 5.00 pm and thereafter have our dinner at our favorite spot. Unfortunately, it rained “cats and dogs” that evening. We ended holed up in the house, doing nothing but to enjoy the rain. However, when it continued to rain in the evenings for the next 2 days, we decided to go for night safari instead. We checked around and were told that the night safari is opened from 8.00 pm to 12.00 am. Great! We took an early dinner at our favorite spot (thankfully, by then the rain had stopped) and headed to the Taiping Zoo.

The ticket price for the night safari was higher at RM10.00 per adult (it was free for my son since he is below 5 years old). My initial idea was to take a slow scroll in the zoo but my wife was strongly against it as it was night & she was not comfortable bringing our son along for the walk (it turned out that she was right – some of the lanes were too dark to be walking, we will never know if any animals had escaped at the area). So, we decided to take the “train” which cost about RM2.00 per person. A guide was on the train and he was telling about the animals whilst we were taken around the zoo
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(Our guide with the mic – looks can be deceiving. The guide was very knowledgeable and friendly. We were sitting just behind the driver – it was a slow and steady ride through the zoo)

My son was excited and keeps pointing at some of the animals – some of the animals are very active during the night. Some were fighting, others were lying low. One or two was...ahem...just being “close” to each other. The disadvantage of using a very low end camera was noted at this time when I saw some of my pictures turned to be blank (my camera did not have the manual settings, so I could not play with the ISO or shutter speed). However, the train stopped at several places to allow us to take close up pictures – the best was at the Panther’s cage. There was about 5 Panthers and they were walking around their cage - none stop. Apparently, night was active time for them.

The entire journey took us about 40 minutes – it was a good learning experience with some good pointers from the guide. Major lanes of the zoo is well lighted with a lot of people (I saw quite a number of “Mat-Sallehs” and schoolchildren) came for the night safari. There were plenty of places to sit down and enjoy the view.

There is a big difference of watching the animals during the day and during the night – well, it looks more scary during the night. That’s because the lights were dimmed (according to the guide, to mimic moonlight) and shadows & movements tends to play trick in our eyes. It was worth the price.
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(You are forgiven if you think this picture was taken at the Africa Plains at night by a National Geography Society photographer (cheh!)– low visibility and low tech camera makes a big difference on the quality of picture. This picture was different though – it was a picture perfect with the zebra’s eye reflecting back the camera’s flash)

Check out Zoo Taiping’s website for further details - the website is impressive for a government based website but a bit slow & need to update further.
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(Filed under Del.icio.us Tag: Taiping_Trips)