Wednesday, August 17, 2016

What you can expect at the Singapore Zoo and River Safari

The year was 2006. A young, newly-married girl found herself on the sunny shores of Singapore.

I'm not going on a trip back in time to bore you but a tiny bit of nostalgia is in order. The girl I was referring to is obviously me 😃 Within two days of my arrival, all I wanted to do was begin traipsing around the little island that had become my new home. It didn't matter that I had already been to Singapore a few years ago on a family vacation and seen almost everything that was worth seeing (from a tourist's point of view). I was just being my usual insufferable restless self! 😁

One of the first tourist destinations in Singapore that I dragged my husband along was the Singapore Zoo. After that, with the steady stream of family and friends visiting us, the number of trips to the Zoo grew exponentially. Over the years I have gathered quite an astounding number of photographs of the Zoo (with the idea that I'll do a blog post someday!). I've picked a select few for this post which I'm so happy to say has finally come about. I will not be doing a separate blog post on the River Safari so I have squeezed it in with this one. This is a long post. You have been forewarned!

Singapore Zoo
Established in 1973, Singapore Zoo is billed the "World's Best Rainforest Zoo". The grounds rest in a heavily forested nature reserve where animals roam freely in open and naturalistic habitats.

The Singapore Zoo is one of the prime sightseeing attractions the country has to offer. It is very popular with tourists as it is with locals and is indisputably a 'must-visit' attraction in Singapore. 

Winner of several awards and accolades, this 26-hectare wildlife park is nestled within the lush Mandai rainforest that stretches into the magnificent Upper Seletar Reservoir. Home to more than 2,800 animals representing over 300 species of mammals, birds and reptiles, this Zoo boasts one of the best wildlife park settings in the world. I'll attest to that!

It takes just one visit to understand why approximately 1.7 million visitors flock to Singapore Zoo each year. I have been to the Zoo too many times to recollect and it never gets dull for me.

The Zoo constantly strives to better its programmes and facilities. I have seen the way it has evolved over the past decade and am not the least bit surprised to witness the success story it has become. 

Unlike most traditional Zoos, the animals are kept in spacious, landscaped enclosures separated from visitors by dry and wet moats. The moats are concealed with vegetation or dropped below the line of sight. And although I cannot speak for the animals, the natural and unrestricted design is primarily why the Singapore Zoo doesn't feel like a stifling animal prison.

Aside from observing the animals from a secure distance outside their exhibits, the zoo has designed many special features such as elevated platforms, underwater galleries and glass observatories for the better viewing of certain animals. Feeding times are when animals are most active and visitors can get a chance to feed the animals (selected exhibits only) and listen to a live commentary from experienced Zoo keepers to gain an in-depth insight into the animal, its characteristics and habitat. Furthermore, the visitor experience involves understanding the animals at a deeper level through well-designed, informative displays. This makes a visit to the Zoo not only an interactive experience but an educational one too.

The main attractions of the Zoo are its 11 theme-based zones, each a unique and immersive experience. Each zone features the unique interactions and relationships among the different plant and animal species with their environment. The main zones are: Frozen Tundra, Wild Africa, Fragile Forest, Australian Outback, Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia, Treetops Trail, Primate Kingdom and Reptile Garden.

One of the first exhibits that you will encounter are those of the white tiger and pygmy hippo. Both are not to be missed! 

You can catch sight of the Arctic inhabitants at the Frozen Tundra, the coolest exhibit of them all. This serves as a welcome respite from the blazing Singapore heat! Modelling the frozen sprawl of the Arctic region, this exhibit is the size of 2½ basketball courts. Brace yourself for an icy-cold adventure through the cave where you’d meet Pom and Poko, the raccoon dogs from Japan, as well as Boris and Ivana, the sibling wolverines!

Note: The polar bear exhibit is no longer operational following the death of Inuka the world's only "tropical" polar bear (and mascot of Singapore Zoo) in 2018

Wild Africa showcases the savannah grasslands of Africa where the big cats, zebras, giraffes and rhinoceroses roam. This has always been one of my favourite stretches of the Singapore Zoo. My kids wholeheartedly agree! 

In the Fragile Forest you will enter a massive biodome that recreates the amazing diversity of the rainforest. This is popular for its walk-through feature that bring animals and visitors together in one space for incredibly close encounters. Here you will commonly find mouse-deer scampering across your path and/or catch the antics of the ring-tailed lemurs. If you climb to the observation deck you will likely see various species of birds, the dangling bats or catch a glimpse of the flying foxes that often soars over the heads of visitors.

This walk-through exhibit is a must-see!

The Australian Outback is a spacious exhibit where you can catch the Australian natives - the kangaroos, wallabies and koala bears in action.

The rugged canyons of the Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia house an incredibly large colony of Hamadryas baboons. You will enjoy observing these perky animals in a beautifully designed landscape.

The Primate Kingdom is a zone where each of the 39 primates on display have their own island. 

The Reptile Garden, houses giant tortoises and fearsome Komodo dragons. Adjacent to these exhibits is Reptopia which features a wide array of reptiles, many of which are among the world’s most venomous. The magnificent king cobra, reticulated python and anaconda never fail to raise goosebumps! 

You can hop on one of the guided trams or else trek on foot at your own pace. Make sure to grab a map a the entrance so you can cover the large area and cross the animals off your list after viewing.

There are eye-catching signposts everywhere to guide you as you meander through the paths running along and between exhibits.  

The animal shows are an amazing experience not to be missed especially if you have kids. You can enjoy the sea lion's performance at the Splash Safari Show or watch some of the Zoo's domestic residents do their thing at the Animal Friends show. The Elephants at Work and Play Show featuring the gentle giants in action is very popular with families. The Rainforest Fights Back is an informative and entertaining presentation that showcases the rich and diverse wildlife of the rainforest. You can even enjoy dining alongside orangutans at the Jungle Breakfast with the Wildlife programme at Ah Meng Restaurant.

Children can have a field day at the Rainforest Kidzworld where they can ride on the animal-themed carousel, splash to their heart's content at the wet play area, ride ponies, feed farm animals or play and learn.

I have an entire blog post dedicated to the water play area at Rainforest Kidzworld which you can check out here.

On one of our visits with my children, there were three friendly staff members holding a pet dog, a ferret and a rat each and they encouraged our interaction with the animals and readily obliged for photographs with them too. Needless to say, my kids were thrilled to bits! 

The Singapore Zoo has achieved numerous breakthroughs in its captive breeding programmes since the past few decades. After its inception, the Zoo introduced a number of initiatives to engage the public in its development and upkeep. Over time, the Zoo has expanded its education and outreach programmes to greater effect.

The Singapore Zoo provides a scenic and unique setting for its diverse range of inhabitants. It is arguably one of the best Zoos you will ever see. The general layout, landscaping, species of animals housed, design of exhibits, quality of shows, amenities, cleanliness, staff attitude and maintenance are all world class. If you are hard-pressed for time, I'd recommend the following exhibits as a must-see: orangutan, white tiger, pygmy hippo, koala bears, hamadryas baboons, komodo dragon, fossa and the fragile forest. The Zoo is quite large so you will need most of the day to cover it. If it gets too hot or it starts raining heavily, it could prove to be a pain (especially if you have small children) so it is a good idea to come prepared. Make sure to slather on the sunblock and carry an umbrella and raincoat.

Engaging, fun and educational - this is the perfect place for people of all ages!

Singapore Zoo
80 Mandai Lake Road
Singapore 729826
Tel: (65) 6269 3411

Opening Hours:
8.30am to 6.00pm daily
(Last ticket sale at 5.30pm)

River Safari
The River Safari is a river-themed wildlife park located adjacent to the Singapore Zoo. Here you can embark on a journey of discovery into one of the world's largest repositories for river dwelling animals.

The park consists of two zones - Rivers of the World and Wild Amazonia. A visit to this Park will uncover over 6,000 amazing land and aquatic animals representing 200 species.

The Rivers of the World take you along the Mississippi River, Ganges River, Mary River, Mekong River, Yangtze River and Giant Panda Forest.

I'm not terribly interested in aquatic animals so I generally breeze through these exhibits!

The highlight of the entire River Safari are Singapore's very own giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia. The exhibit is very well designed and there is a lot to learn from the informative display boards. How cute is it that they even have a sign listing the panda's menu of the day!

There is a red panda at the start of the exhibit which will floor you with its cuteness.

Crossing a long bridge will take you into Wild Amazonia. You can go on the Amazon River Quest, a 10 minute boat ride (from 11am to 6pm). Tickets can be purchased at the Boat Plaza.

You can then move onto the Squirrel Monkey Forest to check out the lively residents. There is also the 15 minute River Safari Cruise (from 10:30am to 6pm) where you can enjoy nature's tranquility along the Upper Seletar Reservoir. You might be able to spot some wildlife on the river banks.

The last stop is the Amazon Flooded Forest, a gigantic freshwater aquarium. Make sure you catch the graceful manatees gliding like underwater ballerinas and come face-to-face with the fearsome red-bellied piranhas!

The view of the surroundings in the River Safari is picturesque. See what I mean?

To be completely honest, I go to the River Safari only to admire the red panda and the two giant pandas. Apart from that, the Amazon Flooded Forest is the next best thing if you are interested in seeing the manatees, otters and piranhas. True, the tropical rainforest setting and the river boosts the River Safari's scenic quotient but nothing else holds much appeal for me so I'll leave it at that.

If you were pressed for time and had to choose between the Singapore Zoo and River Safari, the choice is pretty obvious!

River Safari
80 Mandai Lake Road
Singapore 729826
Tel: (65) 6269 3411

Opening Hours:
10.00am to 7.00pm daily
(Last ticket sale at 6.30pm)

Information in this post sourced from:
Singapore Zoo: Official Website
Singapore Zoo: Wikipedia page



This is NOT a sponsored post. All opinions are my own and from personal experience

1 comment:

  1. Kids will enjoy more in the place they always love animals


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