Life Lessons In Lok Kawi Wildlife Park

/////Life Lessons In Lok Kawi Wildlife Park

Visiting Lok Kawi Wildlife park was a rather spontaneous decision. I had slept in and that eliminated the idea of visiting one of the islands near Kota Kinabalu. While we could have taken the later boat to one of the islands we considered it a waste since Shawn had his PADI course at 1:30 pm. With limited options we decided to explore the mainland.


There are different modes of transport that you can use to get to Lok Kawi Wildlife park. You can take a bus, a taxi or choose to rent a scooter or a car. Wanting a bit of fluidity in our plan we decided to choose a scooter. The owner of Masada Backpackers hostel where we were staying kindly offered to drop us off at the rental agency. He saved us the time we would have spent walking and finding the area.

Renting a bike on Kota Kinabalu follows a pattern. The amount you pay depends on where you want to go which in turn determines the bike you will rent. Here are the types that we were offered.

TYPE 1: Non geared scooter to used within the city. Cost: 45 MYR for one day.

TYPE 2: Geared without clutch and can be used outside the city. Cost: 45 MYR per day.

TYPE 3: Geared with clutch. This bike can be used on mountains and hills. Cost: 60-85 MYR per day.


Lok Kawi Wildlife Park

The interesting gibbon.

The ride to Lok Kawi Wildlife Park was approximately 20 kilometers. It took us a little over 20 minutes to get there. The roads were amazing. Then again when you compare any road to the roads we have in Bangalore they are nothing short of awesome.

As usual there are different slabs for the entrance fee. The differentiation is made on whether you are Malaysian or not and on the basis of your age. Malaysian adults pay 10 MYR, children pay 5 MYR and foreigners pay 20 MYR. Lok Kawi National park is broadly divided into 2 parts. One part houses the animals and the other part is the botanical garden.

We spent around 2 hours wandering around and looking at the different animals. Every animal has a separate feeding time. So if you are at Lok Kawi National Park bright and early then you can schedule your walk so that you can catch them eating. We got there just in time to see the elephants eating. I got a chance to see orangutans for the first time. Other animals that live in the park include the civet cat, monkeys, ostriches and deer.

Lok Kawi Wildlife Park

The orangutan sure knew how to relax.

To be truthful it made me a bit sad to see them that way. The animals looked healthy though I’m no expert to say it with certainty. The enclosures were clean and yet they were enclosures all the same. These beasts were meant to wander in the forests and here they were forced to spend their life in a small space.  We can always say that the enclosures are bigger or cleaner than other parks and zoos. It makes us feel better for putting them there. If we had to compare the enclosures to the jungles and forests that the animals came from we wouldn’t be so happy about it.

Lok Kawi Wildlife Park

Lunch time!

I’m human and my wanderlust takes me across the world. The animals however had their wildness taken away from them. I wonder how I would have responded had I to be tied down to single cramped location like that.


Lok Kawi Wildlife Park

Such vibrant colors on a hornbill!

Most of the birds had big cages. There was even an aviary that you could walk through. During our walk through the bird sector of Lok Kawi Wildlife Park we found a little guy who amused us no end. The little guy was a mynah who was alone in his cage. I think everyone who passed by kept repeating the same words to him and he kept calling out to us and saying ‘Hi’ and ‘Bye’.

Lok Kawi Wildlife Park

The scary ostrich!

Another bird that quite literally made a mark was the curious ostrich. To be fair the mark was mostly my fault. I had never seen an ostrich up close before. Not only was the ostrich tall but he/she quite literally looked down at me. I was busy clicking a photograph of the sneer that he/she gave me when I forgot that I had the zoom of the DSLR on full. The ostrich moved towards us and I jumped straight into the cement bench nearby. That left a big black bruise on my thigh. I can be such a scaredy cat sometimes.


Lok Kawi Wildlife Park

Ultra cute turtles.

There really wasn’t much to see in the reptile section. 2 cobras, a couple of pythons, a few gators and some komodo dragons completed the whole section. While the reptiles lazed in the sun oblivious to our presence, the visitors were certainly aware of their existence.


Lok Kawi Wildlife Park

When Shawn sees a butterfly he has to try and get a perfect photograph of it.

The Botanical gardens are situated at far end of the Lok Kawi National Park. A big warning alerts visitors about the need for caution. There were a few points that caught my eye.

  • Children need to be accompanied by adults.
  • The ground is slippery so trod carefully.
  • Do not enter the botanical gardens when it rains.
Lok Kawi Wildlife Park

Beauty is hidden till you open your eyes.

We were lucky. It was a bright sunny day. Walking through the botanical gardens was like an easy trek through the rainforest. It’s humid and slippery but it definitely is fun. We wore crocs and we did quite well. I would suggest carrying a bottle of water because I did get thirsty midway but it wasn’t all that bad.

The paved path takes you through the botanical garden. You cross a number of tiny wooden bridges too. Look down when you walk. I spotted a few rotting boards along the way. There is even a small lookout point in the middle of the botanical garden and I found it really cool. I wanted to head along the Rafflesia trial but was pretty bummed out because it was closed. Oh well! I hope that I will get a chance to see it elsewhere.

Lok Kawi Wildlife Park

On our way…

Lok Kawi Wildlife Park was the break I needed to feel human again. While I don’t agree with enclosed spaces for any animal, I learned to appreciate my freedom a bit more. Heck! I’m just an upright monkey wandering the world right now. Oh yes! And I have a passport!
2018-06-13T14:29:09+00:00 July 25th, 2017|Asia, Destinations, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia|23 Comments


  1. Somnath July 28, 2017 at 10:46 am - Reply

    Orangutans were aweome!!

  2. One Tech Traveller July 28, 2017 at 11:02 am - Reply

    This was great to know, i think I’d go for the gear without clutch and explore 🙂 my habitué is that chilled orangutan! Thanks for sharing

    • Penny July 28, 2017 at 11:22 am - Reply

      Me too! Bikes with a clutch really disorient me. Luckily Shawn doesn’t mind.

  3. Yaswanth Jayakumar July 28, 2017 at 9:31 pm - Reply

    Helpful guide for Kota Kinabalu wildlife park. The price chart you provide is a really useful thing that is missing on most guides.
    And I share your feelings on how animals must be allowed to roam free, unfortunately, Malaysia has way too many such enclosures in a bid to promote tourism.

  4. Kelly July 28, 2017 at 10:58 pm - Reply

    I love these animals. The orangutans are my favorite. The perfect way to make me feel better!! Thanks!!

    • Penny July 28, 2017 at 11:01 pm - Reply

      Animals have a way to do that. If you were closer home I would have told you to come over for a glass of wine and some kitty cuddles. 🙂

  5. LC July 29, 2017 at 1:06 am - Reply

    It’s hard sometimes visiting these types of places, because you’re kind of like “ugh, I have all the feels about the animals – are they happy? They’re not in their natural habitats, yet are they still being looked after?” Etc. I think there are a few zoos around the world who are doing right by their animals – like Durrell in the UK and Taronga Zoo in Australia, who both have excellent conservation programs. But it’s hard to know these things in advance, sometimes.

    • Penny July 29, 2017 at 1:10 am - Reply

      You voiced my thoughts so accurately. On one hand it is a great way to learn and to teach others about the need to preserve life. Yet on the other hand you aren’t really sure if these animals are happy even though they are cared for. It’s a conflict of emotion.

  6. Marvi July 29, 2017 at 2:02 am - Reply

    Being human and constantly curious, we have this instinct that nudges us to observe other living things and their way of life. We often forget that this living things that we like to observe and keep in enclosures have feelings too. Your realizations on your visit to Lok Kawi Wildlife Park is really spot-on. These animals should be kept in their natural habitat.

  7. Cherene Saradar July 29, 2017 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    How fun to do this by bike! I love that little gibbon. I love seeing wildlife. THis looks awesome.

  8. Nuraini July 29, 2017 at 8:50 pm - Reply

    I’ve been to other centres where the place is contiguous with the forest. So, while there were feeding times for the orangutan when they would also be observed, you’d never be sure if they would come or if the same ones will come, since they don’t have to. Not sure if this park is the same. But it sounds like there’s plenty of space in this park.

    • Penny July 30, 2017 at 9:37 am - Reply

      That sounds like a compromise. I think I need to do more research before I head out to wildlife park next time. Not that Lok Kawi Wildlife park was bad but so that I don’t rig myself up for disappointment.

  9. Katie July 30, 2017 at 4:09 am - Reply

    I get so mixed when I see animals in captivity as well. On one hand I love to see them and I wonder if, for some animals at least, being in captivity could be just as nice. I would think that could only be the case for animals that don’t roam a lot each day I guess. On the other hand I wish they could all be wild and free to live their natural life.

    • Penny July 30, 2017 at 9:36 am - Reply

      I’m really glad that it isn’t just me who is suffering from a conflict of interest. Good parks and conservation centers however are a better bet to visit.

  10. Rebecca Brianne July 30, 2017 at 8:41 pm - Reply

    Such a beautiful post! Great photos. I completely agree with you and your thought process about seeing animals in captivity. I have found to get a really good idea about how the animals are treated.quality of life you can start chatting it up with staff and volunteers! I’ve learned some amazing stories that way about animals who were rescued and the care they’re treated with!

    • Penny August 1, 2017 at 4:44 am - Reply

      That’s a great tip Rebecca. I will definitely keep it in mind the next time I head out to one of these kinds of parks!

  11. Harsh Gupta July 31, 2017 at 11:16 am - Reply

    Strange I had never heard of Lok Kawi until now! Sometimes I feel may be these animals get a shelter in these wildlife parks though most of the times I feel sad for them. On a side note, I love orangutans and they look so cute in your pictures!

    • Penny August 1, 2017 at 4:44 am - Reply

      Lok Kawi isn’t one of those places that tourists head out to. Most people head out to the islands and the mountain. Post that they head on to other locations. We spent a great deal of time in the city and that’s how we had a chance to visit it.

  12. Madi | Restless Worker August 1, 2017 at 7:54 am - Reply

    Can’t say I’ve ever heard of Lok Kawi before but it definitely looks like an amazing place to visit thanks for sharing!

  13. neha August 2, 2017 at 2:51 am - Reply

    The wildlife here is really beautiful. Although even I don’t feel that happy about the enclosures. my daughter loves animals so when we plan tours with her now, we are at lookout of such destinations where she can spot some animals. This looks good, just that it would be all the more exciting if it was a wildlife sanctuary..with the natural habitat exactly maintained

    • Penny August 3, 2017 at 12:06 am - Reply

      I have this conflict of interest all the time. I keep saying that if I had a kid I would take him/her to learn about animals and birds. Yet on the other hand I wonder whether I would be doing something wrong. In India we don’t have anything that is so well maintained and the animals are definitely not looked after as well. How do we differentiate? Are we being two faced? You get my conflicting ideas on’t you?

  14. Karen August 6, 2017 at 12:12 am - Reply

    I find it really strange that they’re in cages while their fellow animals are free in the rainforest elsewhere. I would not want to visit this place as a result. Doesn’t seems right to me. 🙁

    • Penny August 6, 2017 at 12:15 am - Reply

      I know where you are coming from. A part of me is happier that they are treated better than the animals in India and a part of me is so so sad.

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