Wednesday, November 30, 2011

We're off to see the Zoo!

Hey ya'll

Cy and Ray off to the zoo!!!
I've had so much free time on my hands lately it's absolutely sinful!!! It was a pity, however that despite all the time off I've been having, Ray is about to sit for his exam soon which means that there's not a whole lot of things we can do together either since (right at the moment when I've got absolutely nothing to do) he's so busy reading up on his psychology textbooks. Talk about bad timing! Regardless, it was quite fortunate that Ray decided  to take a break from the books yesterday and we decided to make a trip to the zoo. The national zoo of Malaysia, or Zoo Negara, is a place I haven't been to in such a long time. The last time I recall making a trip was when I was seven or eight so... pretty much over a decade ago. For Ray, this would be his first time going so I suppose it was only predictable that we got lost a couple of times, made a few wrong turns along the way and although we left my house at about 10am, we only got there at about 11.30. It was worth it, though, and from what I recall from about ten years back, I really believe that they have beautifully upgraded the place. Some of the additions include IUCN information on endangered species and various new exhibits like the flying fox (Pteropus vampyrus) aviary and the insectarium and butterfly house.

At the entrance to the insect zoo
The insect zoo would have cost us an additional RM5 to enter, but thank god Ray and I bought the full package with our entry tickets so we didn't have to pay that extra. The exhibits were quite interesting I suppose with an indoor insect museum not unlike the ones present at many butterfly parks, followed by a modest sized butterfly aviary which housed rather common, but equally beautiful local butterflies. The most interesting exhibit I would say were the leaf insects, and as always the chrysalis house, where Ray and I saw butterflies eclosing from their pupae which came in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from leaf green to brilliant gold.

Clipper butterfly (Parthenos sylvia) sipping nectar off a hibiscus flower on one of the butterfly feeders.
Although there were not much rare butterflies to ogle at, the butterfly aviary still provided plenty of photographing opportunities. 
Our next stop was to see the penguins. Having already watched Happy Feet 2 (mostly out of desperation) last week, Ray (who is rather obsessed with the semi-aquatic birds) really wanted to see how penguins looked like in real life and it was such luck that the zoo housed a handful of African penguins (Spheniscus demersus) which amused us for awhile as they would keep following our movements as we paced from one view port of the enclosure to another.

Ray and the penguins
We saw a lot of other animals as well, on the way to the penguin enclosure, such as the Orang utans, bonobo
monkeys and camels, which I was rather wary of because of their tendency to spit and unwary passersby. Ray, however, had no such qualms and was probably more excited about seeing a camel for the first time in his life than he was worried about getting spat on.

Making kissy faces with the camel
His courage quailed, however, when we came face-to-face with this four foot long water monitor lizard  (Varanus salvator)
 The zoo also housed an indoor and air-conditioned aquarium which featured mostly river species of fish like the Fire Eel (Mastacembelus erythrotaenia) and the giant and intimidating looking Arapaima (Arapaima gigas) which, incidentally is also a living fossil which means that it has survived since dinosaur times!!! But one  of the things which most drew my attention about our National Zoo was the breeding program they have begun to conduct in an attempt to rehabilitate certain endangered species in the wild. In addition to the near-threatened Painted Storks (Mycteria leucocephala), Ibises (Threskiornis aethiopicus and Eudocimus ruber) and Flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus and Phoenicopterus ruber) which all had free-roam of the park's grounds, the zoo also conducts a breeding program for the Milky Stork (Mycteria cinerea) which is incidentally one of the most endangered birds in Malaysia.

Ray and the Waterbird lake, which is the largest exhibit in the park
Saying hello to the Painted storks (Mycteria leucocephala)

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