Posts Tagged ‘Singapore’

Singapore Zoo

28 April 2011

Singapore ZooElsewhere on this blog I have described zoos in Asia as ‘guilty pleasures’, though some are downright depressing. Singapore Zoo is in a class of its own and certainly the best zoo we have visited in Asia.

We spent a full day of the Easter weekend at Singapore Zoo and barely covered half the exhibits. The zoo is laid out on 28 hectares of superb grounds and almost completely surrounded by water. Much of the paths are shaded by trees and the plant life is astounding. Touted as the ‘World’s Best Rainforest Zoo’, the zoo’s ‘open concept’ design means there are few visual obstacles between visitors and the wildlife, despite the often spacious enclosures.

Singapore ZooAn example is the free-ranging orang utan habitat, a wonder of design where from a series of cleverly designed boardwalks, you can view the orang utans overhead and often at eye level, lounging around, climbing trees, swinging along ropes, playing and in our case, settling in for a snack on some foraged food. This was one of my favourite exhibits.

My other favourite was the Fragile Forest, a walk-through dome (the world’s largest) containing not only butterflies, but two different types of lemurs, flying foxes, crested pigeons, Eclectus parrots, whistling ducks, freshwater stingrays, and other creatures I couldn’t name. I think I was probably more excited than Tash by my close encounter with a lemur.

Also worth mentioning is the Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia exhibit, which houses a large tribe of red-bottomed Hamadryas baboons, mountain climbing nubian ibexes with horns like scimitars, and saddle billed storks. Baboons are always fun to watch — though the Proboscis Monkeys give them a run for their money in terms of amusement value.

Singapore ZooFor Natasha, the day’s highlights had less to do with the exotic animal exhibits and more to do with ‘Rainforest Kidzworld’, a park within the zoo. Tash ran in ahead of me, then came running back with her hands in the air saying, ‘Mum, it’s fantastic!’

There is a spectacular ‘wet play’ area — we’d come prepared with bathers and a towel — with pools, fountains, waterslides, showers, and a giant bucket that filled up every five minutes. When the bucket was ready to be emptied, a bell would ring and all the kids assemble in front of the main play station to let themselves be doused by the downpour. Tash was literally jumping for joy.

The other highlight of Kidzworld for her was going on her first ever pony ride. Princesses ride ponies. Enough said.

Singapore ZooI know some think zoos are inherently bad and that animals shouldn’t be in them. While I firmly believe we must make every effort to conserve natural environments so that animals can thrive in the wild, I believe zoos can help raise awareness of the need for conservation and also build an emotional commitment by inspiring people of all ages with awe at the wonders of nature. Brimming with educational displays and beautifully designed, Singapore Zoo delivers on this front.

And kudos to a souvenir shop that sells kids undies alongside a place where existing undies can easily go missing or get wet!

Singapore Zoo is accessible on public transport via Singapore’s brilliant MRT train system, followed by a bus that connects with the station. The train fares cost us SGD$8.10 (AUD$6) each way, the bus SGD$4.10 (and a curse on you if you don’t have the correct change for the bus driver). Zoo entrance fees are SGD$20 for adults (AUD$15) and SGD$13 for children (AUD$9.70). We paid extra for unlimited tram rides but didn’t end up travelling by tram at all. Some 90% of the park is wheelchair accessible and facilities exist for people with disabilities. Tips on enjoying the zoo are here.

And what better way to finish up a great day than with dinner at The Jungle Tandoor, 102 Serangoon Road, Serangoon (Little India), where faux rainforest decor meets delicious North Indian cuisine.

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