Zoo Negara is more than just a home for hundreds of animal species, it’s also a conservation centre for endangered and vulnerable wildlife. Contrary to popular belief, not all zoos are unethical and cruel. Zoos take part in conservations efforts to improve and preserve any vulnerable wildlife. Take the giant panda, for instance. They were once classified as an endangered species, but with the help of sophisticated captive breeding programs, their numbers are increasing and they’ve been downgraded to vulnerable status instead.

Zoos play an important role in preserving biodiversity, on top of educating the public about these threatened species. One of Zoo Negara’s missions is the conservation of Malaysian wildlife.

Here are some of the amazing creatures you’ll have the opportunity to see when you’re at Malaysia’s National Zoo!

1. Malayan Tapir (Tapirus indicus)

Malayan Tapir at Zoo Negara, 2006 (Photo Credit: zoochat.com)

The Malayan Tapir is classified as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which means they’re at a high risk of extinction in the wild. Also known as the Asian or Malay Tapir, these Tapirs are threatened by habitat destruction in Thailand and Myanmar especially. However, the Malayan Tapir population in Malaysia and Southern Thailand are considered to be the largest and most resilient.

2. Orangutan (Sumatran – Pongo abelii & Borean – Pongo pygmaeus)

Orangutan at Zoo Negara, 2013 (Photo Credit: wikipedia.com)

Both species of orangutan at the zoo, the Bornean Orangutan and the Sumatran Orangutan, are classified as critically endangered animals. This means they’re facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. Habitat degradation due to logging activities is one of the main reasons the orangutan population is declining. The IUCN reports that both these species are expected to suffer a population decline of more than 80% over a three-generation period, if the previously observed rate of decline continues.

3. Malaysian Giant Turtle (Orlitia borneensis)

Malaysian Giant Turtle (Photo Credit: wikipedia.com)

The Malaysian Giant Turtle is also called the Bornean River Turtle and they’re the largest freshwater turtle species in Southeast Asia. Large numbers of these turtles are being illegally traded in the East Asian food market for their meat despite official protection, leading to their decreasing population and endangered status.

4. Siamese Crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis)

Siamese Crocodile in Bangkok (Photo Credit: Ben Dupon, flickr.com)

Here’s another critically endangered entry on our list – the Siamese Crocodile. In 1992, these crocodiles were believed to be “virtually extinct”, with their status recorded as critically endangered and remaining unchanged since 1996. One of the most endangered crocodile species out there, these crocodiles are under threat because they’re being hunted for their skin and their eggs are being collected illegally as well. Due to their smaller size, the Siamese Crocodiles are also in danger of being accidentally captured in fishing gear.

5. Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris)

Bengal Tiger (Photo Credit: wikipedia.com)

Perhaps one of the more well-known endangered animals is the Bengal Tiger. Although it’s the most abundant tiger species in Asia, their numbers are dwindling with fewer than 2,500 individuals. These tigers are at risk because of poaching and habitat fragmentation. The IUCN states that the Bengal Tigers are facing a population area decline of 50%, and will continue to decline unless conservation efforts are increased.