During our stay in Singapore we spent a whole day, and I seriously mean a whole day, at the Singapore Zoo and then followed it up with the Night Safari. I was pretty excited to go as I’m a bit keen on zoos. Of course I enjoy seeing the animals, but I also like to be impressed by the ways zoos design natural enclosures that still give good views of the animals and how they display information and have visitor interaction.. I guess that is the teacher in me.
Singapore Zoo certainly did not disappoint! After catching the train and a mini bus there (which was an adventure in itself!) I was instantly impressed. Straight out from the entrance we were greeted by Cotton-top Tamarins that weren’t enclosed but had their own little open garden to climb around in. As we wandered around the zoo we passed the amazing and natural looking enclosures, many without fences or glass, that were very well designed. The Primate Kingdom, Treetops Trail and Fragile Forest walks were great – very open, with many views to see the animals from, and sometimes so close to the animals you could touch them! I also loved the “Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia” as the whole area was set up like an African village with little huts and lots of things to explore – I was most impressed and told Jase that if I taught a class in Singapore I would definitely take them there.
Other little impressive features were the Orchid Garden and Tropical Crops Plantation. It was pleasing to see that the creators of the zoo were not only concerned about animals but the environment too. The whole place really was very lush and green, with plenty of gardens and little streams – it often felt as though we were walking through a rainforest.
We caught two free shows during the day, Rainforest Fights Back and Elephants At Work and Play. The shows were pretty good, definitely targeted towards families as they were a bit corny and over the top, but we got to see the animals doing some interesting things. You definitely needed to get to the shows early as seating is limited and fills up quickly.
My absolute highlight of the zoo however was, without a question, the Free Ranging Orang Utan Boardwalk and Island. I was seriously blown away as the beautiful Orang Utans gracefully climbed across the ropes that connected tree tops and resting platforms which weren’t in any enclosures. Everytime we walked in the area I would have to stop and look up again, amazed that directly above me were the animals.
On to the Night Safari. We had spent a solid 6 hours at the zoo before making the very short walk to the Night Safari area just up the road. Of course it is no coincidence that the zoo closes at 6:00pm while the Night Safari opens at 7:00pm, however there is the restaurants and gift shops “village” surrounding the entrance that conveniently opens at 6:00. Jase and I just chilled out the front while waiting for it to to open and trying to avoid the crowds, but we did find it difficult to sit down if you weren’t a paying customer.
Once in, we originally set off for the Creatures of the Night Show but found the line was so long that we decided to try again later. Instead we waited for a few minutes for the tram to go on the tour. The tram tour was extra but certainly worth it. There are certain areas of the Night Safari only accessible by the tram and the tour guide was very pleasant, informative and had great English. Similar to the zoo, some of the animals were free to roam more open areas. As our tram passed the Malayan Tapirs we were literally within an arm’s reach!
After the tram tour, approximately 45 minutes, Jase and I went on the walking trails to get a closer look at some of the animals. It was pretty exciting walking along the dark paths. My highlight was seeing the Clouded Leopards, they were gorgeous! One thing I found challenging throughout the evening was the other Night Safari patrons. The staff are very clear about not using flashes on the cameras and being quiet, yet some people insist on trying to get that “perfect photo” with their flash – despite that it could make the animal they are photographing blind!
We didn’t end up catching the show as we were pretty tired after all the walking we had done. All in all, it was a fantastic day. Visiting both sites isn’t the cheapest of activities (approximately S$40 per person) but it was a full day of entertainment and, I believe, money well spent. If you remember to bring your own food and drink, as Jase and I did, and catch the bus and train then you can cut down on other expenses.
Definitely worth the visit for anyone spending time in Singapore!
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