I have been visiting various zoos and safari parks in the region for a project I am working on and this took me to Bukit Gambang Resort City (BGRC) over the long Chines New Year weekend to check out their safari park, which recently opened. BGRC is the vision of local Malaysian developer Sentoria to build an “integrated” resort city on the East Coast Highway. Mostly based around real estate for sale, it offers a water park, small adventure park and a safari park to create the sense of a destination (there is not much around!).
Access is made very easy from the highway, which puts BGRC within less than 3-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur and within 1-hour drive of popular Cherating beach on the East Coast. BGRC was very busy because of the public holiday. In terms of crowd it’s quite mixed half Malay half Malaysian Chinese from a mid to low income bracket.
The two ticketing counters for the water park and the safari park are in the main building on 2 separate floors. The queue was much longer for the water park; maybe because of the high price of the safari park. I paid RM68 (USD20), which is as much as I would pay for the Singapore Zoo!
The safari park is essentially a zoo with a small safari ride at the end. By the title of this post you would have guessed I was less than impressed and actually very upset by the very poor quality. In a nutshell is is very poorly designed (long walks, bad indications, etc), animals look miserable, no theming, concrete everywhere, fences in your face, etc.
Here are a few pictures I took of the zoo part, where they seem to have gone opposite directions from all the new zoo trends (no cage, playful enclosures, etc). I personally did not feel safe at all and could barely see any animal (either missing or just not visible).
After walking quite a bit in the heat I finally get to the safari ride. The queue was quite long but I have to give credit to the staff who managed it quite well given the very poor planning of the loading area. The 30-min ride is done in AC trucks with a staff commenting on the different animals (mine – Ain – was very nice, smiling and accommodating). But there is nothing safari about it! All the enclosures are very bear, full of concrete and again quite sad looking.
By now I think you get it too. I can’t describe how upset I am. If one has the money to build such a big facility why go for such low quality, ignore all the learning from zoos around the world and show animals in such conditions? This is what mid to low income families in Malaysia get to see on a holiday? Wait till you see what Indonesian families see on a holiday when I write about Taman Safari; there’s a world of difference. I say, wake up Malaysia!