By the Book

The Bali Zoos residents star in a new publication to help with conservation efforts in Indonesia.

THE WORLD’S FIRST DOCUMENTED zoo was in Egypt in 3,500 ВС. an exotic collection of animals including hartebeest, hippos, and baboons. Soon the idea of keeping a menagerie spread around the world with collections existing in China, Babylonia, and perhaps most brutally in Rome, where animals were chained together and made to fight to the death. But while societies and civilizations evolved and captive creatures started receiving better treatment, the world’s animal population suffered major setbacks from unsustainable hunting and mass destruction of habitats. The roles of zoos have also changed over time. Today, they are more focused on education and conservation efforts—and Indonesia is no exception.

The Bali Zoo is home to 350 species, mostly indigenous to Indonesia with some rare and endangered breeds such as the critically endangered Bali mynah. The stocky little white bird is known for the sky-blue skin around its eyes, black-tipped wings and tail, and yellow-tipped beak. It serves as the fauna symbol for Bali and is beloved throughout Indonesia, where it appears on the 200-rupiah coin. The Bali Zoo reports that there are less than 100 birds on the island with four of them at the zoo—but that might change in the near future as there are three eggs expected to hatch soon.

Established in 1996 by animal lover Anak Gde Putra with his own money, the zoo started out on three hectares of land in Gianyar. Since then, it has tripled in size and now includes species such as the orangutan, Sumatran tiger and elephant, and the African lion.

«The zoo can help people appreciate nature by allowing them to see a wide variety of animals in one place,» said Lesmana Putra. the zoo’s general manager.

This year the Bali Zoo is stepping up its own conservation efforts by partnering with the Syailendra Group and Malaysian photographer Omar Ariff for the coffee-table book Wildlife in Paradise, which features photographs of 93 of the species residing at the zoo. Proceeds from the book will go toward supporting the zoo’s mission of raising animal awareness and education, as well as to conservation group Friends of the National Parks Foundation.

According to photographer Ariff, the book shows the Bali Zoo’s dedication and love towards its animals. «The Bali Zoo is not much different from a family, each animal has its own name,» he said, reflecting on the two weeks he spent at the zoo taking pictures.

According to the ProFauna Organization, Indonesia is home to 300,000 animal species—17 percent of the world’s total—but unfortunately almost half of them are threatened or endangered. Wildlife in Paradise is a small step in the much larger battle to help give the world’s ecology a fighting chance.

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