Small town Indonesia in Sydney’s Taronga Zoo

Seeing bits and pieces of another country transplanted into Indonesia, such as the sculptures in Senayan Park Mall that mimic the ones at Singapore’s ION Orchard, is pretty common. But seeing the reverse is sadly too rare of an occurrence.

So you can imagine our surprise to see small-town Indonesia being represented on the shores of Sydney, Australia. As part of an immersive exhibition called Tiger Trek, the Taronga Zoo houses an exhibit modeled after the Way Kambas National Park, home of the Sumatran Tiger.

Tiger Trek exhibition in Taronga Zoo

tiger enclosure gate
The entrance is modeled after Indonesia’s traditional gates, known as Gapura
Image credit: @kz.saito

The Tiger Trek exhibition is much more than a simple tiger enclosure. When entering, visitors first hop onto a virtual flight on a freight plane model on-site, as if they’re actually flying to the national park located at the southern tip of Sumatra island.

mie ayam taronga zoo
Mie ayam vendor cart located by the entrance
Image credit: @mikikhailing

After ‘landing’, visitors then step out to a recreation of the national park’s entrance. With a tire repair/gasoline stall on one side and a mie ayam, or chicken noodle, vendor cart on the other, we’re simply amazed at the zoo’s attention to detail in designing the exhibit.

tire repair stall taronga zoo
Motorcycle tire repair/gasoline roadside stall, a common sight in Indonesia
Image credit: @ariataufik

They even went the extra mile of having the phrase tambal ban, Indonesian for tire repair, spray painted on the rubber. Even homesick Indonesian expats would be brought to tears by the sheer authenticity on display here.

tiger enclosure ranger station
Entrance to the enclosure modeled after the actual ranger station
Image credit: @kz.saito

Past the entrance is the enclosure where in addition to seeing the actual tigers, you can also learn more about the critically endangered species. In particular, the zoo highlights the tiger’s shrinking habitats due to forest fires caused by illegal palm oil plantations.

While the Tiger Trek exhibition has been around since 2017, it went viral recently thanks to a TikTok from @rapuncila, currently at 1.3 million views, which was then shared on Twitter by @eldidito.

Netizens praise the authenticity, joke at the missing mini-markets

While netizens are mostly effusive about the zoo’s take on small-town Indonesia, several jokingly noted that the exhibition fell short in a number of ways.

netizen mini markets taronga zoo
Image credit: @kikinderjoy

Twitter user @kikinderjoy for one bemoans the lack of Indomaret and Alfamart, two ubiquitous mini-market chains in Indonesia.

lack motor scooter taronga zoo
Image credit: @dgipul

Elsewhere, @dgipul pointed out the lack of Supra, Beat, and Mio motor scooters on the scene, the favored mode of transportation of the general Indonesian populace.

Credit where it’s due, though – the exhibition can easily be mistaken for an actual small town in Indonesia at a glance.

Small town Indonesia on the shores of Australia

While it’s great to see a mostly hidden side of Indonesia being showcased in other countries, we mustn’t overlook the condition of the Sumatran Tigers.

Illegal palm oil plantation is a major issue and we should respect the efforts of Taronga Zoo for highlighting the plight of these tigers and of Indonesian wildlife in general.

For more on Indonesia’s natural beauties, check out these stories:

Cover image adapted from @jojojulesy and @kz.saito

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