Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Out & About: Ragunan Zoo: A gem in careless hands

Tue, 01/26/2010 The Jakarta Post

The history of Jakarta’s zoos began with Raden Saleh, a prominent Indonesian painter in the 19th century.

He donated around 10 hectares of his land for the establishment of its first zoo at Taman Ismail Marzuki, Central Jakarta.

About a century later, the zoo was relocated to a 140-hectares of land in Ragunan, South Jakarta.

It was officially opened Jun. 22, 1966, managed by the city administration.

Today with an entrance fee of only Rp 4,500 (47 US cents), Ragunan Zoo has become an affordable recreational site for families.

Yet there have been complaints from visitors about the cleanliness and security of the area.

They report there is littering and some visitors complain about pickpockets.

People may also not agree with animals’ living conditions.

For example, kangaroos are situated in compounds unlike their natural habitats.

Singapore Zoo has better environments for their animals such as spacious areas that are similar to their natural habitats.

However, Ragunan Zoo also has the Schmutzer Primate Center, one of the largest of such centers in the world.

The 13-hectare special enclosure houses various primates, including gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans.

The center was named after the late Pauline Antoinette Schmutzer, who donated her estate to the center.

But if this center is better managed, perhaps the Ragunan Zoo may attract more visitors.

People believe zoo management should pay more attention to facilities such as food stalls, tour buses, signs, walkways and toilets.

Toilets, for example, are poorly managed even though visitors are required to pay around Rp 1,000 (10 US cents) to use them.

Looking at how our neighboring countries running zoos such as Singapore Zoo and Malaysia’s Zoo, Negara, people believe Jakarta cannot afford to have Ragunan Zoo managed the way it is.

The Internet has been well utilized by other foreign zoos, yet it doesn’t happen here at Ragunan Zoo.

Ragunan Zoo website is financed by a mining company operating in Indonesia, as part of their corporate social responsibility program.

However, information on the Web is not interesting enough to attract potential visitors to visit the zoo.

The homepage should at least incorporate user-friendly and downloadable documents such as the site and location maps.

If Ragunan Zoo is intended to be accessible to all walks of life and a sought-after tourist destination in Jakarta, there should be changes to the mindset of its management and the government of Jakarta.

They should be more creative and progressive, and make the zoo much cleaner and more flexible for all occasions.

The zoo is located in South Jakarta and easily accessible through the Jakarta Outer Ring Road and Transjakarta busway network.

It has the potential to function as an organization’s meeting place.

This would provide additional income to the management during weekdays.

The quiet surroundings and natural environment providing shady areas would support such an idea.

There must be greater promotion since of the zoo as well.

Once the zoo is better funded and run in a more professional way, it has the potential to become a favored destination in Jakarta.

But it still must travel a long and windy road.

Because Jakarta has publicly announced “Enjoy Jakarta” as its tourism tagline, visitors as well as residents of Jakarta deserve the right to enjoy recreational places such as Ragunan Zoo.

— Taufik Ismail