A few months ago we went on a trip to Seremban (a small Malaysian state capital just south of KL). There is actually very little to do there and so while Mr EE was giving his presentation at the conference he was in town for, the children and I decided to explore the coastline. Seremban is quite close to Port Dickson (or PD as it is usually referred to) which is a popular Malaysian resort town and my groupon is forever trying to convince me to book an all-inclusive break there. To be honest those sort of breaks are not really our cup of tea but I thought that there might be some things to see and do in town.
When we arrived, however, the town centre was somewhat disappointing; lots of commercial centres with shop houses very little different to any other Malaysian town. We enjoyed the drive in along the coast, however, looking over the Straits of Melacca and seeing the tankers in the distance (PD was originally developed for the export of tin ore and when that started to wane became the location of a large refinery). South of the town the resort complexes begin in earnest and the area begins to resemble resort towns the world over. We could have been in Spain! A little further and we came to a sign for the PD Ostrich Farm. Expecting very little (these smaller animal ‘farms’ are generally not well run) I decided to stop as we needed to give the baby a bottle.
The owners of the ‘farm’ are obviously passionate about ostriches and there is plenty of information on these fascinating birds. After a quick sit down with a bottle of water for us and a bottle for the baby we took a walk around. There are a lot of smaller animals, chickens, goats (very cute as always) and rabbits (poorly cared for with large open sores on their bodies). The ostriches were tame enough to take food from our hands. Master and Miss EE were happy enough to feed the goats and the two adorable little donkeys we came across (I have a soft spot for donkeys) but could not quite bring themselves to feed the birds.
The enclosures were small and not particularly well maintained, there was a rather depressed looking camel who, like the rabbits, had open sores on his hump and many of the ostriches had plucked their feathers. A tour complete the owners tried to persuade us to book an archery or quad biking experience or ride an ostrich, race one against a horse or stand on a (replica) ostrich egg. They seemed rather surprised when we decided to forgo those pleasures. We also decided not to partake of the Ostrich Satay on sale in the café.
The whole visit left me profoundly depressed. I have been to a number of smaller animal centres and when done well they can be a delight (I am thinking of the Otter Sanctuary in the British New Forest or the Moose Farm in Ostersund, Sweden. This was nothing like those farms. Some basic adjustments could make it into an interesting place to visit but it was poorly maintained as many of these places are in the region, run for a profit and very little care for animal welfare.
The children enjoyed seeing the animals but even at their ages they could tell that they were not well cared for and did not really want to extend their stay. It is, sadly, easy to dismiss opinions like mine as those of a privileged expat with no cultural understanding or feel for my host country but that is not really fair. I have seen excellent welfare projects here in Malaysia (not least the Orang Utan island in Bukit Merah which was world class) and I have heard good reviews of the Elephant Sanctuary near KL. The state of this farm was all to do with a cynical use of animals for profit and that is a problem for all countries and all cultures.
Click on the picture below for more posts on life in Malaysia
Posted as part of the Animal Tales linky hosted by Eco Gites of Lenault