Taking a bite into the fringe of Johor Bahru's Taman Istana (Palace Park), Zoo Johor is that quick scratch to ease a hakuna matata itch with a collection of over 100 animal species native to Asia and as far flung as South America.
And the best part is, heeding the call of the wild at this zoo costs only RM2.00 per adult!
|The new entrance facade of Zoo Johor. The zoo has undergone some renovation works in recent years and enhancements were still being carried out during the time of my visit.|
The easiest way to get here is to take a cab. I took a cab here from Johor Bahru City Square shopping mall that is opposite the Johor Bahru immigration checkpoint. The cab ride took under 10 minutes (smooth traffic day) with a metered fare of RM6.00.
The Indian cab driver that drove me was friendly but he tried to tell me some sob story so that I would pay him RM10.00, which according to him is the standard rate for short distance rides as taxis in JB don't use meters (that's not true as I've taken numerous cabs before and the drivers turned on their meters). The thing is, I've heard similar sob stories before... claims of being born with birth defect, having major diseases, have sick family members, etc, so that passengers would give more money to the driver out of sympathy.
I gave more than what was on the meter a couple of times before but after hearing these stories repeatedly, I now doubt the truth in them. It seems like the cab drivers in JB are mostly sick and at the brink of death. Should they even be driving when considering the safety of passengers? Anyway, I told the driver I've heard similar stories previously and he fell into an awkward silence before asking what have I heard. So I related how one told me he had lung disease and seeking treatment while another has a very sick son and yet another had heart surgery. This driver told me he had heart surgery too and was born with defects in his left leg. What defect, he didn't specify. I think dishonesty is the disease.
|Zoo Johor is located along Jalan Gertak Merah opposite the grand looking Masjib Jamek Sultan Abu Bakar mosque. Ticket is purchased at a booth behind the main gate at RM2.00 (adult) and RM1.00 (child below 12yo).|
For the way back, I walked from Johor Zoo to Johor Bahru City Square and it took me about 35 minutes at a regular walking pace. So the zoo is pretty accessible and easy to get to in my opinion.
One of the Oldest Zoo in Malaysia
Zoo Johor started out as a private wildlife menagerie of the royal family when it was established in 1928 before being handed over to the Johor government. The zoo began receiving public visitors in 1962 and the once royal 'animal garden' is today the state zoo and one of the oldest in Malaysia. And the age shows. Not in a flattering way.
|This is the enclosure for the White-Handed Gibbon, which is a palace compared to disheveled enclosures some of the other animals are kept in.|
|For such a petite zoo, I'm surprised at the number of F&B outlets available here. So don't worry about being hungry or thirsty.|
|Hippopotamus enclosure... will the wire fence hold if the two hippos in it decide to go full throttle and hurl themselves towards the gate?|
I am not nitpicking, but conditions at Zoo Johor are rather abysmal. It looks more like a backyard animal shelter than a state-level zoo. Then again, entrance fee is only RM2.00 so can't ask for too much lah. At least the animals look well-fed and not begging to be put out of their misery.
Leather, Feather, Beak and Fur
Zoo Johor is not much of a looker, but the variety of animals found here is pretty commendable for its sparrow size. What I really liked is how close I can get to the animals because of the zoo's casual attitude towards safety. Most zoos have such a vast safety distance between people and animals that it is better to stay home and watch National Geographic.
That's why I heart Zoo Johor for the very rare opportunity to see the animals, some of them formidable, at close range with just a mere fence between us.
|A wire fence separated me from the hippopotamus but no luck to see the river horse up close as they were content being submerged in their private pool.|
|White-Handed Gibbon... this fella was quite the acrobat during my visit. It hung and swung on tree branches like no tomorrow. Such a wonderful treat watching the care-free primate defy gravity. See video below...|
|Neighbours of the cassowary included an emu, a close relative in the same ratite family, and a couple of crocodiles (buaya in Malay).|
|Some see them as parent and child, others look upon them as wallet and handbag.|
|Open field zone for the watching and feeding of deers and ostriches...|
|... but first, a |
|Let's do the Macarena!|
|Saw quite a few kids just grabbed the kangkong and fed the animals without paying so I dropped a couple of ringgits into the box to help keep the food coming.|
|Would've been more fun if the deers can be fed on ground level.|
|I fawn you! Now it's your turn to pah-sahng. I go hide and you come find me okay? :)|
|... then I realised the partner is right up against the cage. Both birds are female. Female Great Hornbills have white eyes while the eyes of the males are red. Should they wave a rainbow flag?|
|Spotted a Great Hornbill by itself and thought it is unusual as hornbills in captivity are usually kept in pairs because the birds are monogamous and mate for life. I thought this lonely one is either single or its partner had died...|
|Go nuts, no pun intended, over this Grelim-looking critter that is the White Ear Marmoset (a.k.a. Common Marmoset). Meeting this cutie made coming to Zoo Johor totally worth it.|
|Barking Deer (a.k.a. Indian muntjac or red muntjac)... it is considered the oldest deer species. I love its very tribal facial markings.|
|Is the fabled Madam White Snake really the Albino Python?|
|"Need a hug?" asked the Reticulated Python.|
|I've seen the fearsome King Cobra on documentaries but didn't realise just how big and long this nightmare is. Truly majestic.|
|Thanksgiving is in the air.|
|Camel pretending to be a giraffe.|
|Another opportunity for a close encounter :)|
|The tapir is has such a smooth and featureless face.|
|My Chinese zodiac! From the missing face paint, it is obvious which tiger gets lots of heavy petting.|
|The tiger was pacing up and down the enclosure non-stop as if it was doing yard time in a jail.|
|The tiger enclosure looks like a gladiator arena doesn't it?|
|Finally the beast took a short rest after a failed attempt to mount the missus.|
|Around the lower wall of the enclosure are narrow slits through the concrete where you can peep in for a close-up of the tiger. I was really lucky to get this shot of it looking through the hole into my camera!|
|A rather interesting feature of Zoo Johor is a roof-top zone that links up the tiger, lion, cow, chimpanzee and bear enclosures. The big cats were napping away from the tropical heat. Definitely bring an umbrella when visiting the zoo.|
|Moo... They look so dorky cute.|
|This chimp has the filthy habit of poking his finger into his nostril, dig around a bit, and then sticking the same finger into his mouth... *gag*|
|They may not be free, but they are worry-free.|
|What species is this behind a cage?|
Although Zoo Johor is rather compact, I spent almost 3 hours here getting face time with the residents. I didn't think much about the zoo at first because of the rundown conditions but after I looked past the lack of aesthetics and focused on the animals, I began to enjoy the opportunities for close observations and encounters.
Besides, the zoo is located not too far from the JB checkpoint and easily accessible. Plus, may I mention again, it's only RM2.00 to visit!