Lok Kawi Wildlife Park

What? Zoo

Where? Lok Kawi (near Kota Kinabalu), Sabah

Ratings: *** Nothing should replace seeing wild animals in the wild, and I don’t encourage the caging of animals, but this is a good place to see Borneo’s wildlife if you don’t have time for a real jungle adventure. The close-up look at the proboscis monkey is reason enough to give this zoo a 3-star rating. Not many zoos around the world are able to keep the proboscis monkeys due to the unique care and special enclosure that is needed.

Lost Ratings: *** Go on a weekday and you will hardly see any visitors. Sometimes I can sit for hours on a bench just watching the animals. Botanical Garden at the back of the zoo is a forest park seldom visited by tourists.

Opened in 2007, Lok Kawi Wildlife Park (LKWP) has become another popular tourist attraction in Kota Kinabalu, especially among the locals. Although the name Wildlife Park might suggest a safari-like environment, it is just another name for a zoo. But LKWP is no ordinary zoo. Carved out of a former rubber plantation that has reverted to a secondary jungle, it is surrounded by a lot of greenery. The bird aviary and botanical garden especially has a jungle-like feel to it. For those who don’t have the time for a real trip into the jungle, the zoo is a convenient place to see the wildlife of Borneo. Even for those who have been to Danum Valley and Sukau, the zoo offers the visitor a chance to see some of the rarer animals like the Sumatran Rhinoceros and Bornean Clouded Leopard, which would otherwise be very difficult to spot in the wild. Animals that are not from Borneo include the zebras, ankoli cattle, capuchin monkeys, ring-tailed lemurs and tigers.

Highlights of Lok Kawi Wildlife Park

Proboscis Monkeys

Although this primate can be seen quite easily on any river cruise in Borneo, this is one place where you can get a really close-up look at the huge pendulous nose of the male monkey. In the wild, you would need a pair of binoculars to clearly see the nose, and that too only if he decides to show you his face instead of his back. Antics of this male and his harem are quite funny to watch.

Orang Utans

Orang utan is the symbol of Borneo and therefore is a must-see for some people. The Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre in Sandakan and Shangri-la Rasa Ria’s Nature Reserve are two other places where the orang utan can be seen, and to be honest, both these places are better as the orang utans get to come and go as they please. But LKWP is the most accessible to tourists staying in Kota Kinabalu. The orang utan enclosure at LKWP is bigger than most other zoos, and instead of a fenced-up area, it is only surrounded by a moat. (Orang utans can’t swim, so they cannot escape). It would be even better if there are more trees for the orang utans to play in and to provide shade from the hot sun, instead of the playground-like structures that are there right now.


The aviary not only has birds flying around freely, it is also a very welcome relief from the heat. The natural environment is wonderful, and some of the rarer and bigger birds like the Lesser Adjutant and Argus Pheasant can be spotted here. Perhaps the most interesting animal in here is not even a bird, but the mouse-deer. Often hiding from the sun and tourists in its own enclosure, the mouse-deer comes out to play here in the shady environment.

Bornean Pygmy Elephants

These elephants like to play in the water and it is a delight to watch them submerge into the deep pool and appear later with only their head showing. The elephants though need a larger enclosure as it is getting a bit too crowded and the elephants are showing signs of stress. (The elephants are not swaying because they like to dance!).


In the same enclosure as the Bornean gibbons, this family of 5 otters is arguably the cutest animals in the zoo. (Some would argue for the orang utan and the western tarsier). Often swimming, playing and even napping together, the otters never fail to amuse with their antics. And when they are resting, the gibbons take over with their own acrobatic show.

Baby animals

Lok Kawi Wildlife Park must be doing something right. It is amazing to have so many animals giving birth in the zoo. The youngest members of the zoo include 2 baby proboscis monkeys, 2 baby elephants (2 month-old and 5-month old in July 2008 ) and the otter triplets. Now is the time to go to the zoo before the babies grow up and lose their cuteness. (latest update 8/3/09 – 3 baby elephants and one baby orang utan)

Rare wildlife

Sumatran Rhinoceros, Bornean Clouded Leopard, Sun Bear, Western Tarsier.

Animal Show

The show is a hit with the local children and the orang utan really knows how to make an entrance swinging into the amphitheater. Shows are held twice a day, but are sometimes cancelled without prior notice.

Botanical Garden

Most visitors to Lok Kawi Wildlife Park give the botanical garden a miss in the mistaken belief that it is boring. It is not. For those who have never seen a jungle before, this is a good place for an introduction to a jungle. If walking up and down the steps tire you out, take a seat on the plank nailed onto a liana vine. Rubber trees and pitcher plants can also be found here.

Things to bring: mosquito repellent, hat, sun-block, umbrella

Best time to visit: The animals are most active in the evening when it is not so hot.

Opening Hours: Daily incl Public Holidays: 9.30 am – 5.30 pm. Last entry 4.30 pm

Animal show: 11.15am, 3.30pm

Elephant rides: weekends only

Entrance Fees:


18 years and above – RM20

17 years and below – RM10


18 years and above – RM10

17 years and below – RM5

60 years above – free

Getting There: From Kota Kinabalu, it takes about 25 to 30 minutes to reach the zoo. The easiest way to get there if you are driving is to use the road heading towards the airport. Drive past the airport and straight on along the road until you cross the railway tracks and reach a T-junction. Turn left and go straight until you see the big signboard to the zoo on your right. There are signboards along the way.

Taxis from town costs RM40 one-way. There are no taxis waiting there, so you might want to arrange for the taxi to take you back as well.

Lost Borneo Tours:
Kadazan Village and Wildlife Park



  1. kotakinako said,

    July 18, 2008 at 2:29 AM

    Hey!Hey!Hey! I found you!!Finaly…

  2. losttraveller said,

    July 18, 2008 at 7:24 AM

    Your photo is somewhere in this blog…

  3. Philip G said,

    July 24, 2008 at 7:19 AM

    Visited the park a few months ago with a group of friends. One of the keepers recognised one of our friends and told us that the Sumatran rhino, the only one at the park is a tame female badak (rhino). He then proceeded to the enclosure where the rhino was standing and watching him menacingly.To our surprise, instead of charging at the keeper, the rhino approached him and allowed the keeper to pat her head and then she rolled over like pet dog. A great contrast from those I saw on the TV.

    Philip G. 24.7.2008.

  4. missellyza said,

    September 11, 2008 at 12:00 AM

    is that so hot over there?
    everytime i open lok kawi zoo page, the visitor always said it’s so hot and we need to bring an umbrella with…

  5. losttraveller said,

    September 11, 2008 at 12:11 AM

    Yes, I’m afraid it is hot. Not hotter than other parts of KK, but hot because you’ll be walking under the sun. The trees are growing taller though, so it should get better. And there are always places to hide in. The bird aviary is a cool shady place. So is the botanical garden at the back. I find that going in the evening is better, especially if it’s a cloudy day. Last entry is at 4.30pm, and you can stay until 5.30pm.

    • Borneoman said,

      May 16, 2009 at 12:10 PM

      Yes, i have go this place but need more animal or species to put there….enjoyable places

  6. jae said,

    December 5, 2009 at 4:45 PM

    i thought the sun bears were cute huhuhu

  7. Borneo traveller said,

    December 26, 2009 at 8:24 PM

    Wonderful time – wonderful place – ideal for the kids and the adults liked it too – nice to see the fans in front of some of the exhibts but it would be useful if they worked as it was a hot day

  8. Maegi Mc said,

    March 27, 2012 at 8:49 AM

    Hi there,
    What a wonderful website. I literally stumbled-upon it searching for something entirely different but I’m glad I checked-it out.
    I wanted to ask you about the picture of the Proboscis monkey which is labeled as a male. With that tummy he looks like a very pregnant female but being I know nothing of these monkeys other than the fact they’re damn funny looking as adults the male has that giant ‘bulb’ on his face while the female appears to have an entirely different shaped nose but it’s the babies with the little button noses which remind me of little Irish pug noses with pointy tips that are absolutely adorable! I’ve never seen any explanation as to the reason for their noses. Do you know any theories as to why they look the way they do? They appear to be rather large size monkeys to be flying through the tree’s but I noticed how graceful they are in the trees but that still doesn’t help with understanding why their noses are what they are!
    I’ve really enjoyed browsing through your site. It’s obvious a lot of work went into it’s creation so I just want to say thank you. You’ve done a beautiful job making the site educational & beautiful at the same time!
    God Bless

    • losttraveller said,

      March 28, 2012 at 4:09 PM

      Hi Maegi, the proboscis adult male always looks permanently pregnant! Although it has more to do with his diet than any sexual revolution. As for the nose, it’s a matter of sexual selection. just as the male lion has his mane, and the peacock has his fan tail. the bigger the nose, the more attractive he is to his females.

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