Sunday, November 18, 2007

Professionals learning to love Ragunan Zoo

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

It has been 20 years since Rina visited Ragunan Zoo during a holiday with her family.

Her memories of the zoo were of dirt and discomfort. Like almost every other middle-class professional in the city, she as unlikely to include a trip to the zoo in her plans for the weekend, and toured the malls instead, she says.

But on Saturday, she was back there once again, on a company trip organized by her employer, Citibank.

"I thought it was dirty and not as comfortable as malls. I would have never come here if it wasn't for my work. But I've changed my mind now... it is quite clean," said Rina, adding that she'd consider returning again.

Her company, Citigroup's Citibank, organized a corporate social action day to clean the zoo. The company sent 1,500 employees to sweep the ground, paint benches, plant trees and bathe animals.

Rina was on the sweeping team, cleaning up dried leaves and garbage. Other employees got to bathe elephants and paint benches.

The activity was part of Citigroup's attempt to organize a global community day involving its employees around the world in environmental activities.

Ditta Amahorseya, the country vice president for corporate affairs, said Citigroup's Indonesian office chose Ragunan Zoo to introduce the zoo's functions to the employees.

"Many of them have never been here before. This is a chance for them to see that the zoo is not only a nice recreational area but also has played many roles in preserving the environment."

Zoo director Sri Mulyono said that the zoo mainly functioned as an animal conservation and research laboratory.

"Somehow, most people know it as recreational area only. However, it also functions as a city water catchment and green area," he said.

The 140-hectare zoo was established in 1964. It has some 3,500 animals and visitors can walk, cycle or take a horse and cart or train to get around.

It attracts some 300,000 visitors a month.

The number of visitors to the zoo lags behind that of an average shopping mall, which sees an average 1 million visitors a month. Among middle- and upper-class Jakartans, open space like public parks and the zoo have lost their popularity to mushrooming malls (lln).

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