Mon, 24 Apr 2000

TMII sees more visitors on anniversary

JAKARTA (JP): Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (TMII) marked the final day of a week-long fiesta to commemorate its silver jubilee on Sunday with some 80,000 visitors packing the huge entertainment and education park.

"Usually, the maximum number of visitors on Sundays are around 60,000 people," said Djaman, a public relations official.

The significant increase of visitors will hopefully cover the serious financial problems faced by park management due to the severe drop in park attendance over the last few years.

Ever since the economic crisis hit the country in mid 1997, the number of visitors has plunged drastically, from 7.23 million in 1997 to 4.08 million the following year and 3.95 million last year.

The trend is likely to continued this year as the park recorded only 1.68 million visitors in the first three months.

Amidst the crisis, the park's management celebrated its silver jubilee on April 20 by staging 77 events, mostly of the traditional arts, and a series of contests from April 16 to April 23.

On the final day, the park in East Jakarta held 30 events, including three animal contests: bird singing contest, Bekisar (Indonesian fowl) contest and fish contest.

The birds singing contest was attended by 150 contestants from Java and Sumatra, who brought along their 200 birds.

Most of the birds cost at least Rp 1 million (US$130), like a whamay, an imported bird which looked like a canary, owned by Iwan, a resident of Cengkareng, West Jakarta.

"I bought it for Rp 2.5 million,"he said.

"But it doesn't cost me much to feed it since expensive foods only ruin its voice," he said, adding that crickets have become his bird's favorite cuisine.

A famous cook who regularly appears on TV, Rudy Chaerudin, was among the contestants cheering and applauding his eight birds.

"I have over 130 birds at home, and these eight have won 34 trophies," he said, pointing to his whamay canary and a local bird called anis, bred in Java.

"Somebody even has offered to buy this red anis for Rp 150 million," he said proudly.

According to Rudy, who prepares the meals for his birds, the anis birds are now in demand, partly because imported birds are expensive, but mostly because it can sing in 159 different keys.

People also dare to spend millions on the bekisar - a hybrid green forest fowl rooster and Indonesian hen - and tropical fish.

The bekisar that participated in the contest were anywhere from Rp 250,000 to Rp 80 million each, while the imported koi fish from Japan can cost as much as Rp 90 million each.

Amidst these unbelievable prices, the contestants agreed on one thing.

"Taking care of these pets can reduce stress," said Bernardus, a contractor who lives in Salemba, Central Jakarta. (09)