Bali Safari and Marine Park: Bali

Bali Safari and Marine Park, to be officially opened in Cucukan, will be Taman Safari’s best park to date, marketing manager Esther Manansang said. And she should know. Esther, like many of Taman Safari’s department heads, was born into the business.

Her father Jansen Manansang and uncles Frans Manansang and Tony Sumampau founded Taman Safari in Bogor, West Java, before she was even born.

“Dad and my uncles were circus performers. The idea of creating a safari park came up when the circus animals were growing old. They had been friends (with the animals), so they were looking for a place for them to live … So they started Taman Safari in Bogor,” she said.

The Bali Safari and Marine Park is located near Lebih beach, one of Gianyar regency’s prime tourist attractions. It takes a 30-minute drive to reach the park from the island’s capital, Denpasar.

Ensuring the conservation of rare and endangered animals is the focus of Taman Safari parks, Esther said.

Bali’s new park will employ a team of vets and animal handlers, as well as several zoologists. Esther’s team was careful to develop an animal park that was as close as possible to the natural habitats of its animals.

Taman Safari board member Jansen Manansang, as the president of the South East Asian Zoo Association, helped in this process. The association’s focus is on the welfare of animals in such parks.
An American architect who specializes in zoos designed the animal-friendly park several years ago.

Visitors can travel in safari busses across monkey-filled rain forests, a Bengali white tiger habitat and a savanna-like landscape dotted with hippopotamuses and lions. Guides are present to offer information about each animal, as well as the park’s conservation efforts.

“There will be no honking car horns or feeding animals,” Esther said.

Taman Safari staff found that transporting animals was much more difficult than transporting people while developing and expanding their parks.

“We don’t have any giraffes yet. We are still looking for an airplane that is high enough to accommodate them, otherwise they will have to travel by sea,” she said.

Teaching younger generations about the environment and conservation is at the top of Taman Safari’s corporate responsibility list.

“The park will invite school students to visit. We aim to make these visits free or inexpensive so school groups can visit the park and learn about wildlife and conservation,” she said.

Cucukan on Bali’s east coast was selected a decade ago for the park’s location after several years of investigation.

“We first considered Denpasar or Ubud for the park’s location. But the (then) regent of Gianyar suggested Cucukan. At the time there was no tourism in the area. We looked at the land and said yes. The location was ideal for the park and also close enough to the sea for the marine park,” Esther said.

The park currently employs more than 250 people, and in the coming months its workforce will increase to 400.

The park has met no resistance from the local Cucukan community, Esther said, with the exception of local dogs who played havoc with the park’s animals at first.

“The dogs were getting in and attacking the animals in our holding area. They were biting them and then leaving them. We have now fenced that area off so new arrivals can acclimatize before being released into the park,” she said.

The park is expected to provide massive economic benefits to the local community. It has several large restaurants, a food hall, a 1,200-seat theater/exhibition zone, a water park, an Amazon cruise and a safari lodge where guests wake to lions outside their windows.

But the park’s main focus will continue to be on the wellbeing of its animals, conservation efforts and education, Esther said.

Trisha Sertori