This morning we headed out early to check out the Gembira Loka Zoo, which is not too far from where we’re staying. In a town with very few parks or green spaces, the zoo was a refreshing change of scenery.
The zoo grounds also include a large arboretum and a lake, so it makes for a pleasant shady walk.
I never thought I’d say this, but the reptiles and birds were really the highlight of the zoo. I suppose that makes sense since a lot of them are native to the region.
Hugo has been making me read him this huge book about reptiles on repeat for the last 10 days, so he was pretty excited to identify all the different things we were seeing.
The bird area had a large space where the native species were just flying around freely. I wish I had made some video so you could hear the cacophony of bird squawks and see them swooping here and there.
This guy glared at us from his perch:
One of the main differences between zoos in developing countries and zoos in the US is how close you can get to the animals. This is often cool, but sometimes terrifying. I could have tapped a 15 foot crocodile on the head if I really wanted to.
We also got uncomfortably close to a cassowary bird. Not familiar with the cassowary? Well, they’re huge and deadly and make the most disturbing didgeridoo sort of sound.
There was also a large playground and lots of tunnels and slides and interesting things for kids to climb on.
Overall I’d say the zoo exceeded my expectations. There were some low points (elephants in a bare dirt field), and some disappointments (small and depressing aquarium), but the reptiles and birds were fantastic, and the park itself is very well maintained.
Tickets were 20,000 rupiah each (approximately $1.55; children under 3 are free).
The zoo and park are stroller-friendly, so if your little one tends to get tired, I’d recommend that you bring one. There are ramps next to all the stairs, but be warned there are 2 very steep hills (down at the entrance, back up at the exit).