Friday, May 27

Beauty, elephant draw crowd as wildlife park celebrates World Animal Day

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KOTA KINABALU: The Lok Kawi Wildlife Park did not miss out on the World Animal Day 2010 celebrations as it held a special open day which featured the newly rescued baby Bornean Elephant named Huminodun, and Unduk Ngadau 2010 Crystel Eve Huminodun William Majimbun.

Hundreds of visitors flocked to the wildlife park yesterday to participate in various activities organized to celebrate the day for animals, which was supported by the Unduk Ngadau Committee of the Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association (KDCA)

According to Sabah Wildlife Department Director Laurentius Ambu, the zoo has discussed with the KDCA Unduk Ngadau Committee and they have agreed to help in raising funds for the zoo.

“Among the fund-raising activities that we have were an auction of paintings by Orangutans, and a special photoshoot with Unduk Ngadau where the public can have a special photo taken with Crystel for a small fee of RM5.

“All the funds collected will be channeled towards animal conservation efforts,” said Ambu after officiating at the open day of the park.

Other activities included a treasure hunt, drawing competition for children, and a weight guessing game for Huminodun (the elephant) which was named by the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Masidi Manjun.

“I am very glad to say that the response from the public is very encouraging. Just as I said in my speech, I have invited everyone who is interested to volunteer here at the zoo, our doors are open for them.

“There are many opportunities for the volunteers where we have memorandums of understanding with other zoos from abroad allowing our volunteers to experience working in zoos in other countries,” he said.

“Our message is simple. We just want to create awareness both within our country and outside that we have such a beautiful biodiversity and there are not many people who know about this,” said Ambu.

Other activities which were held during the Open Day included animal feeding sessions with Bornean Elephants, Malayan Sun Bear, Malayan Tiger, Orangutan, Gibbon & Otter and the famed Proboscis Monkey.

Visitors also enjoyed elephant rides, exhibitions, face painting and quizzes, especially for children.

On the number of people visiting the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park, Ambu said Sabah has seen a great increase in visitors for 2009 and 2010, which is not what is happening in the rest of the world.

“Other countries are facing a drop in visitor count at their zoos, but not in Sabah, both in Sepilok and Lok Kawi. We are actually getting more and more visitors by the day.

“Maybe what is contributing towards the increase in visitors to our zoo is because of the Bali attacks, the Red Shirt incident in Thailand, so all the tourists prefer to come here,” he said, adding that Japan, UK, and Australia are also seeing a rise in visitor count at their zoos.