Sunday, April 15, 2007

Zoo Negara, Malaysia, 14th April 2007

It was one of those Saturdays where there are no good movies to catch and no friends to chill out with. A few options came up and somehow the idea of going to the zoo captivated me. I had visited the zoo in Melbourne, Singapore and Malacca, but never the our own national zoo.

The drive to the Zoo is simple enough. Hit the MRR2 and drive northwards (if you are coming from the southern area like PJ) or drive eastward if coming from the city. Since I had passed that area a few times, I just looked for the sign pointing to Kuantan till the road signs showing "Zoo Negara" appeared.

There were ample parking spaces at the first parking lot (there are 2). Under the blazing sun, I was glad to find a spot below some shady trees.

There weren't any customer at the ticket counter, so I quickly walked up and asked for one adult ticket (RM15). The lady was quite surprised and confirmed with me that I only needed one ticket. I guessed most people go to zoos in a bigger group. Instead of getting a traditional ticket, I was given a paper wrist tag that has a barcode. Visitors have to wear this tag and scan it at the entrance upon entry and exit.

Despite the empty lines outside, there was already quite a lot of people in the zoo. Instead of the drab and unkept environment I was half expecting, I was glad that the place looks very lively, with lots of little shops selling souvenirs and snacks at the entrance.

Opposite the entrance to the multi-animal show there's this big pool with HUGE fishes.

Entrance to the aquarium. Very nicely done, it's as if you are walking down into a cavern.

The inside of the aquarium with display cases. The display is arranged according to the type and location the fishes can be found, from the highland river to the ocean.

After leaving the cool airconditioned aquarium, it's face to face with ....

Pygmy Hippopotamus / Badak Air Kerdil
choeropsis liberiensis
- They seek food at higher and drier ground and are most active from late evening till midnight.
- A secretion of mucus keeps its hide moist and shiny, while protecting it from the sun's rays.
- Solitary; avoid encounters with others of the same species. As with the Nile Hippo, they mark their territories with dung.
Streams, wet forests and swamps
Liberia to Sierra Leone

This is one of those enclosures that smelt bad...but I guess it goes with the territority.

Bearded Pig /Babi Berjanggut
Sus barbatus
- Dominant male may lead herdds of up to 100 animals.
- Herds follow deeding Gibbons and Macaques to eat fruits dropped from trees.
- Give birth in nests made of ferns and twigs.
Borneo, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra and the Philippines
Tropical rainforsts, secondary forests and mangroves
Roots, fungi, small animals, eggs, carrion & plants
THREAT- Habitat Loss

Ok, these guys are huge....and those muscles make them look like they were on steriods.

INDIAN GAUR / Seladang India
Bos gaurus gaurus
20 In a group
- Spends most of its time grazing (early morning or late evening) or resting
- If startled, they crash through the jungle at high speeds
- Not aggresive, but can be dangerous if wounded or approached too closely
India & Nepal
Forested country
THREAT - Habitat Loss

Domestic dispute?

Nag nag nag....

Hrmmph! Could use a cold beer in this weather.

Asiatic Black Bear / Beruang Hitam Asia
Ursus thibetanus
Also known as the Moon Bear
- Often found in trees, foraging for nuts and fruits.
- They make nests of sticks in trees where they sleep during the summer.
Much of it's habitat has been replaced by farmland.

You jump, I jump!

This otters are the cutest, most energetic and playful creatures around. And they do know how to work the crowd and a bit of attention seekers.

Swimming towards the next group of visitors.

Wheeee!!! Otters gliding down the slippery slope.

Small-Clawed Otter / Memerang Kecil
Aonyx cinerea
Smallest otter!
- Smallest otter; weighs only 3kg.
- Usually found in groups of 4-6; but can reach up to 12 individuals.
- Short claws do not extend beyond the tip of their toes.
Coastal Estuaries, large rivers, small streams and p0nds.
South East Asia
Molluscs, crustaceans and fish.

OK, this picture does do not do justice to the size of this bear. It is huge! And definately doesn't look the most cute or cuddly bear in the zoo.

Brown Bear / Beruang Coklat
Ursus arctos
- Can run at speeds of 57km/h for short distances
- May attack humans when threatened or when their young are in danger
- Sleep thru the winter when the food gets scarce. Heart rate drop to 8 - 12 beats per minute as they sleep
Wooded areas and barren land
Peninsular Alaska and mostly throughout Northern Atmosphere.
Fruits, flowers, insects and small mammals
Hunted for their fur, sport and as a presumed threat to human

Barking Dear / Kijang
Muntiacus muntjak
- Only males have antlers which are shed annually
- Makes a barking noise when alarmed
- Young remains hidden in bushes until it is able to move with its mother
From India to southern China & South East Asia
Hilly areas with dense foliage
Grass, leaves & shoots
Hunted for meat and skin adorable...if only humans can be so tolerant.

Tapir / Cipan

Tapirus Indicus
- Young tapirs are dark with yellow and white stripes & spots
- Good hill climbers, runners, sliders, waders, divers & swimmers
- Food is pulled into mouth with their mobile elephant trunk-like nose
Myanmar, Indochina, Malaysia, Thailand & Indonesia
Grassy area with permanent water supply
Aquatic vegetation, fruits and leaves
Hunted for food and sport

Here's a shot of the flamingos from one side of a large pool.

Greater Flamingo / Flamingo Besar
Phoenicopterus ruber
- Largest member of the Flamingo family (Height: up to 1.3m)
- Larger size allows it to wade into deeper waters to feed
- While feeding, can keep its head underwater for up to 20 seconds
Central & South America, Caribbean, Southwestern Europe, Asia and Africa
Variety of freshwater and saline habitats, salt lakes, estuaries and lagoons
Insects, worms, microscopic algae & pieces of vegetation
Habitat Loss

Caribbean Flamingo / Flamingo 'Caribbean'
Phoenicopterus ruber ruber
- Caribbean Flamingos are the brightest coloured flamingo species
- A flamingo ankle can be found halfway up the leg
- While resting, flamingos face the wind to stop wind and rain penetrating their feathers
Yucatan, Bahamas, Galapagos Islands and northern parts of South America
Variety of freshwater and saline habitats, particularly salt lakes, estuaries and lagoons.
Brine-shrimp, larval and pupal forms of flies
Habitat Loss

White Rhinoceros / Badak Sumbu Putih
Ceratotherium simum
- Its name comes from the Afrikans word 'weit', which means wide, describing its mouth
- A rhino's horn grows from the skin and is made up of keratin fibre, the same material found in hair and nails
- Edge of territory marked with dung piles
Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zamibia, Zimbabwe
Open woodland or open savannah with permanent water
Grasses and low shrubs
Killed for its horn which is used for traditional medicine.

Here's a few random shots taken at the open "Savannah Walk"

The nice shaded area facing the Savannah Walk.....perfect for a picnic.

What'chu looking at?

Dromedary Camel / Unta
Camelus dromedarius
- When food and water is scarce, it can loose up to 40% of its body weight
- Thick and long eye lashes to protect eyes from the sand
- Stores fat in the hump
North and East Africa, West and South Asia
Plants, bones and carcasses

More writeups and pictures coming up soon. Sorry travelling now and I have a lousy connection.

Facts about the animals are courtesy of the display boards in the zoo.

Photos and information in this blog represents only a small part of the zoo. I would advice you to visit it and learn more about our animal kingdom. It's definately worth it.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Formula 1, Sepang, 2007

The champion...

Thanks for trying.

Tickets = RM300
Parking = RM50
Speeding Ticket = RM150
Sound of screaming V8s....priceless.

OK, so that's a bit cliche. Watching the Formula 1 in Sepang was one of those spur of the moments thing that pop up before my birthday and so I bought the ticket as a gift for myself. Narcissistic. I know :-)

Planned to be there earlier in the morning to beat the traffic...but since it was a Sunday, I typically overslept. Stepped out of the house at 11am, pumped more fuel into my car (thank goodness) and proceeded promptly towards Sepang (see Speed Ticket above).

Traffic was clear all the way to the KLIA toll. It was just 10 minutes before noon, and then after the first bend, I started to join the traffic jam. The journey that normally took 10 minutes lasted more than an hour.

I had also purchased parking coupon with the tickets and upon reaching, I found out that it was actually just a palm oil estate where we are expected to drive in and park in rows. Sure, the grass has been cut and there's shade from the palm oil trees but you have to be careful not to drive into any ditch or deep holes and tear out an axle. Well, this qualifies as the most expensive parking...RM50 for 3-4 hours!

The weather was hot and humid. A lot of people were gathered around the many fans (with mister) or just taking a seat in the Automobile Museum. Since there were still a lot time, I took my time to visit all the souvenir shops.

Mercedes Benz had the most impressive booth, with a few impressive looking souped up AMG models. Below is one of them.

Gate 5 for Citrine and Topaz seats. That's my gate.

Inside the SIC track. There were shops selling drinks (RM5), ice creams (RM5), beer (RM16) and packed food. Everything was sold at super inflated price but most people didn't seem to mind, looking at the brisk business there.

That's the MB safety car leading the drivers parade.

Our PM, in the antique car leading the parade.

Ferrari's Massa.

View of the open grass seating and the covered grass area.

Overall, it was a great experience especially if you are into cars or auto sports. However, I would have done things differently if I were to attend it again next year. Firstly, bring lots of water to last the duration. Then bring food and snacks . Be there early, by 10am would be ideal. Spend the time with friends and watch the early races.

Then leave another picnic basket in the car. After the race, don't bother leaving the parking area cause there would be a MASSIVE traffic jam with all the cars wishing to leave at the same time. Take out the picnic basket and have a picnic while you wait out the jam. The palm oil estate cum car park then wouldn' t be such a bad idea.