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When Aaron Mark Prius first got his exotic pets, a chinchilla and prairie dog, he never thought they would be the catalyst of multiple exotic pet-related ventures. (And no, not the kind that sells exotic pets.) 

But fast forward a few months later, he’s the founder of Mark Baba Pets Farm & Exotics, one of Sabah’s first exotic pet farms. 

And now, he’s also the man behind The Noah by Mark Baba Pets Cafe (The Noah), a space where visitors can get up close and personal with animals like meerkats.

So how exactly did a seasoned practising lawyer specialising in litigation practices and corporate advisory get into this field?

Combining education and entertainment

As with several other businesses we’ve covered in the past, it all started during the pandemic. Back then, Aaron would spend half of his time cleaning his chinchilla and prairie dog’s enclosures and spending time with them.

“I [would] place them in my garage, and every evening the [neighbourhood] kids would intentionally pass by my house,” he explained to Vulcan Post. “Sometimes, they would even guide their parents to jog or walk past my house unit.”

Image Credit: Mark Baba Pets

That’s where the idea came from. 

Instead of his garage, Aaron figured that having a bigger space could benefit curious visitors. And after learning that his home state didn’t have exotic animals of this kind, he was even more determined to change that.

“My mission was to set up a small sanctuary of edutainment for Sabahan children to have the opportunity to come visit and learn about exotic animals,” Aaron stated.

Thus marked the beginning of Mark Baba Pets Farm & Exotics. 

Bringing exotic pets to local children

According to Aaron, Sabahan children who wished to see animals like meerkats and prairie dogs would have to take a flight to West Malaysia. This acts as an awareness and learning barrier, especially when you consider how pricey flight tickets can be.

So upon returning to Sabah from Peninsular Malaysia, he first introduced the venture by joining a Christmas event where his pets were showcased.

This was met with warm reception and more curious children, which further encouraged Aaron to start the farm.

Once a piece of land was secured in Penampang, he got to work. The lawyer turned the previous rabbit farm into a mini petting farm and adopted all 65 rabbits as well.

Image Credit: Mark Baba Pets

Unlike traditional zoos, where observation is limited to a certain distance, guests at Mark Baba Pets Farm & Exotics can closely interact with the animals. 

Some of the more popular attractions are the prairie dogs, meerkats, and raccoons. Additionally, you could also find common farm animals like ponies, peacocks, turkeys, and goats living there too.

Still the only trailblazer

Aside from just looking at them, though, there are also a range of activities to participate in. For example, you could ride ponies, feed birds, meet huskies, and even learn about different bird breeds in the aviary.

All in all, making it a spot that’s attractive to children and adults alike.

But at the start, Aaron was quite taken aback at the good reception. “I was surprised with the feedback and the full crowds we had,” he expressed. 

“During that time, we didn’t allocate a huge amount in our marketing budget and yet were still able to secure crowds during the public holiday and weekend.”

Image Credit: Mark Baba Pets

One of the reasons attributed to this is its status as a pioneer and still the only sole trailblazer in Sabah for exotic petting farms, Aaron said. 

So much so that there’s still plenty of room to grow and further expand the brand, which is how The Noah was launched.

They’re similar, but quite different

Focusing on an even more intimate experience, The Noah is a cafe that allows visitors to pet, cuddle, feed, and spend quality time with exotic pets. 

“Visitors can enjoy private moments with our animals, offering a different and specialised experience,” Aaron explained.

As the petting farm is currently under renovation, some of the animals there have been rehomed to the cafe. Generally, this includes the smaller pets like the prairie dogs, meerkats, and also reptiles.

Regardless of where the animals live, though, Aaron assured us that their welfare is the top priority. 

Image Credit: Mark Baba Pets

“We have a dedicated team of permanent staff who diligently oversee the daily care and wellbeing of our residents.”

Along with that, there’s also a dedicated and proficient housecall veterinarian to ensure the animals are in optimal health. Every pet undergoes a general checkup at least two to three times a year.

Mark is still a practising lawyer but makes time to visit the farm and cafe whenever he can.

Striving to reach new horizons

Now you’re probably wondering, where did they get these exotic animals from?

To that, Aaron said he preferred to keep that information confidential. However, he shared that the brand adheres to the highest standards in the sourcing and the care of its animals.

Legality-wise, the brand has obtained a zoo licence issued by the state’s wildlife department under Section 83 of the Enactment. 

As an animal lover himself, he stressed that his interest in them was never motivated by business. “It was not about making money,” he reiterated when asked about the brand’s early days.

Image Credit: Mark Baba Pets

“However, I do see some big potential to develop this place of interest in order to bring more intriguing places to Penampang, Sabah.”

“I have the privilege of owning and having interactions with these animals during my time in West Malaysia, and I want to extend this privilege to the Sabahan childrens to have the opportunities to learn about this animal,” the founder stated.

To increase their reach, he’s collaborating with more brands like MX Event to elevate awareness on the farm and cafe. And eventually, the goal is to be the largest edutainment and exotic pets exhibitor in Sabah. 

  • Learn more about Mark Baba Pets here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Mark Baba Pets

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© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)

Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)