Over the long weekend, many Malaysians stepped up to show support for Zoo Negara after reading about how the zoo was struggling to cover the cost of operations and its expansion plan
While some of the visitors were returning to Zoo Negara after many years, there were also those who brought to the place their children for the first time.
New Straits Times highlighted the zoo's struggles last week, following which many visitors admitted they wanted to "show some love" to the national tourist site.
"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," a visitor, Quek Jinn Lin, who brought her whole family, told NST Online.
The 36-year-old mother described the zoo as an important institution for Malaysians.
Zoo Negara has been in desperate need for more visitors and sponsors for its animals, particularly its Malayan tigers
The Zoo Negara management needs RM500,000 a year to care for its tigers.
"It costs RM100 a day to feed the Malayan tigers while the Bengal ones eat 10kg of meat, or RM200 worth, a day. This boils down to RM40,000 per tiger a year, including their medicine. Factoring in the zookeepers’ expenses, we need about RM500,000 a year.
"Ideally, to expand and make the zoo a focus of Asian tiger observation, we need about RM1 million annually," Zoo Negara Malaysia deputy president Rosly @ Rahmat Ahmat Lana was quoted as saying by NST Online.
According to Rosly, the money could also come through private sponsorship, where companies can sponsor one or more animals for as long as they like.
"They can also name the newborns," he told NST Online.
The national zoo used to receive five-year federal grants of RM5 million. However, in 2004, it stopped coming and since then it has survived on one-off government aid for maintenance and upkeep.
"We have been spending RM1 million to RM1.2 million a month for the last three years and we need to have at least 500,000 visitors to break even from ticket sales, among others.
"The fact that we are spending all we are getting leaves no room for expansion of the zoo as a facility for education, conservation and scientific research," Rosly said.
He lamented the decline in visitors from 2015 onwards when it dropped to 368,000 in 2018 from a record of 708,000 visitors in 2014.
Meanwhile, Rosly said he was happy with the large crowds of visitors who showed their support during the long weekend
"Since Sunday and Monday, as it was a public holiday, there has been a significant increase in the number of visitors to the zoo.
"This is positive because, during the fasting month, the number of visitors is usually much lower," said Rosly, as reported by the English daily.