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Not Formaldehyde. Lutra perspicillata, Smooth-coated Otter, Lok Kawi Wildlife Park, Penampang, Sabah, Malaysia | by Rana Pipiens
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Not Formaldehyde. Lutra perspicillata, Smooth-coated Otter, Lok Kawi Wildlife Park, Penampang, Sabah, Malaysia

Not far from Kota Kinabalu in the foothills of Mount Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, is the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park. Opened in early 2007, it doesn't want to go by the name of 'zoo', which is associated with cages. It's working hard to afford its denizens at least the semblance of a natural environment. Many of them indeed have relatively spacious living areas. Among these are the really marvellously playful Smooth-coated Otters of Southeast Asia (Lutra perspicillata). This particular one is having a good scratch... Incidentally, its eyes are of the clearest blue!

Lutra perspicillata was first described by Isidore Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire (1805-1861) in 1826. Saint-Hilaire was a famous French naturalist, and something of a theoretician as well. He coined the word 'ethology' as the 'study of animals not as merely inert beings kept in formaldehyde, but as living organisms in their natural environment'. This is the line this new Wildlife Park takes as well.

The Park also has an extensive - not much visited - botanical section which runs up and down a gully at its back for about 1.5 km. An intriguing place with a fine collection of plants. Do come to Kota Kinabalu to see all of this. The Park specialises in animals and plants from this 'neck of the woods'. You'll learn a lot, and have fun too!

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Taken on September 7, 2011