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Malaysians have stepped up to support Zoo Negara, with many making a visit during the long weekend. (NSTP/HAFIZ SOHAIMI)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians have stepped up to support Zoo Negara, with many making a visit during the long weekend.

While some of them were returning to the place after many years, others were bringing their children for the first time.

Many admitted they wanted to “show some love” to the national tourist site after reading about its plight in Friday’s edition of the New Straits Times. The newspaper highlighted the struggles of the zoo in covering the cost of operations and its expansion plan.

Quek Jinn Lin, 36, who brought her whole family to experience the sights and sounds of Zoo Negara, described it as an important institution for Malaysians.

“This is my children’s first visit to the zoo and they are having so much fun watching the birds roaming at the lake. I hope the zoo will continue to be here for future generations,” she said.

Harjeet Singh, 32, came with his wife and niece after reading in the NST about how Zoo Negara desperately needed more visitors and sponsors for its animals, particularly its Malayan tigers.

“After reading the article, I said to my wife we should visit the zoo. My niece, who has been here three times before, was delighted and showed us around. This is my first visit to the zoo and it is worth every penny.”

Other visitors, like Jacky Chin, offered some constructive criticism.

Zoo Negara deputy president Rosly @ Rahmat Ahmat Lana with three tiger cubs at the zoo in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. PIC BY HAFIZ SOHAIMI

He said Zoo Negara needed to learn from its past as it had been popular in the 1980s and 1990s due to active promotions and various commercial tie-ups.

“In the 80s and 90s, KFC commercials showed happy kids going to the zoo. There were ice-cream commercials in between children’s shows on Saturday morning that showed kids happily visiting the animals.

“The drop of visitors occurred after these promotional efforts stopped. There was a short burst of publicity when the pandas arrived, but that died down.

“Children nowadays don’t understand the fun of zoos. They don’t know how amazing some animals are,” said Chin.

Liz Yahaya said reducing ticket prices might help attract more visitors, but this should be balanced with more educational programmes at the zoo for adults and children.

Adnin Adnan said the zoo should be promoted as “must visit” in every tourist itinerary.

“Zoo Negara should get cooperation from the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry, Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd, Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia and tour agencies. They can help promote it as an interesting and must-visit tourist site for locals and foreigners.”

Zoo Negara deputy president Rosly @ Rahmat Ahmat Lana said he was happy with the large crowds of visitors who showed their support during the long weekend.

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