Johor Bahru Zoo

Photo of Kuching batu

Kuching Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis borneoensis). There are 12 species of leopard cat, one is found on Borneo and another on peninsular Malaysia.

The Johor Bahru Zoo offers the chance to see quite a few animals but has an obvious problem with funding. In the last couple of decades small zoos are losing out as the costs increase and people’s expectation for the treatment of animals has been raised. Even very expensive zoos with lots of money and relatively nice enclosures have serious questions to answer about whether locking up animals for our recreation is acceptable. Small zoos have been closing and zoos that remain open have been increasing the quality of spaces for animals and funding research as a way to feel better about what we do.

photo of the chimpanzee Enclosure at the JB Zoo

Chimpanzee enclosure at the Johor Bahru Zoo. The Grand Palace is visible in the background.

The Johor Bahru Zoo is still small and obviously not very well funded. The enclosures are small. I talked to several of the people that work there and they were very nice and well intentioned, it seemed to me. But there is no denying the zoo has too little funding to provide what is expected in many places today (I didn’t talk to the people that work there about funding I just observed the conditions – also the entrance fee is only RM 3. The Singapore Zoo is hailed as a wonder and the entrance cost is about 40 times as much (and I wouldn’t be surprised if the attendance was 40 times as high). You can certainly make things look nice for 1,600 times (40 * 40) as much money (plus I would imagine corporate sponsorship, members… give the Singapore zoo even more).

photo of a lion cub at the Johor Bahru Zoo

Lion cub, Johor Bahru Zoo. The lion enclosure is the similar to the one for chimpanzees. All the photos are by John Hunter.

The zoo was built by Sultan Ibrahim in 1928 and was was opened to the public in 1962.

I can understand people feeling bad for the animals at the Johor Zoo. I also can believe kids may well very much enjoy it (many were as I was there). It does seem to me, if they intend to keep the zoo, they really should look at ways to increase funding by a factor of at least 50 – 100. And then look to decrease the number of animals and give those that remain larger and more interesting enclosures. But that is just my opinion, others are welcome to their own opinions. I am sure, some people know they wouldn’t want to see a small, older zoo. But if you don’t feel that way, I think the zoo is one of the more interesting tourist attractions in Johor Bahru and worth a visit.

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