Singing Otters, Piddling Orang-Utans and White Tigers
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The Singapore Zoo is a highlight of any visit to Singapore and definitely offers a worthwhile day out.
Combine it with the neighboring Night Safari and you'll get home very late and very happy about the money you spent.
Where It Is and How to Get There
The Zoo itself lays on a piece of land jutting into one of the three big reservoirs in the middle of Singapore. This area is used as the island's main water supply, and is kept very green and natural with large trees and little construction.
This gives the whole zoo a very garden-like, almost a jungle feel, and is certainly a lot nicer than many city zoos with their concrete walls and cement floors.
The Singapore Zoo lies somewhat in the middle-north of the island and is not serviced by the MRT, but by regular public bus services. There is also ample parking for private cars, though, with a new covered garage being built. Taxis are plentiful as well.
The Concept - Open Enclosures with Space to Graze
The idea behind the zoo is to keep the animals in open enclosures, as opposed to cages, and to give them - as far as possible - space for walking, grazing and socializing.
These spaces are designed as habitat attractions - so you can find an Elephants of Asia area, the Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia, complete with an African village replica, rocks and boulders and hordes of baboons, or the Australian Outback with emus, kangaroos and wallabies.
And not to forget - the famous white tigers.
The fellas are gorgeous to watch even if they do seem a bit bored by the throngs of people looking across the water at them.
In the case of the Orang-Utans, they even have their own little private island which they can leave anytime to climb into the surrounding trees. These trees are spanned by nets and boards where they often hang, feed, sleep or just gaze down at the visitors.
Beware, though: the orang-utans will take a piddle from above and one can't help but think they sometimes target the people walking below with a naughty wink in their eyes.
All in all, the Zoo has done a pretty good job of making itself an attraction and a home for the animals at the same time. Most enclosures are fairly spacious, but of course nowhere near the size of a natural habitat - it is a zoo in the end.
Shows, Playgrounds, Shops and Restaurants
In addition to showcasing the animals, the Singapore Zoo also stages various shows throughout the day with - of course - the animals.
The Elephants at Work and Play is very well done and popular, with elephants spouting water, rolling logs or pushing fruit, and the Splash Safari highlights pelicans, penguins, sea lions and manatees.
Next to regular feeding times, you can also have breakfast with the animals, ride on elephants, enjoy a water playground or eat and drink in the restaurants scattered around the compound.
Check the Singapore Zoo
for all the details, and of course the
Singapore Zoo homepage
for an overview of the facilities, ideas for itineraries and to sign up for their conservation efforts.
The Singapore Zoo is currently constructing a River Safari themed part of the park to highlight the world's rivers, which is due to open up middle of 2012.
A very big attraction - especially for the Chinese population - will be the arrival of two pandas from China sometime in 2012 - certainly one of the momentous moments in the Zoo's history.
is some background on the various planned river landscapes and the pandas.
Obviously, everybody has their favorite animal and attraction, but we particularly like the otters, almost at the entrance who chirp and twitter and sometimes even respond when you chirp and twitter back.
The giant tortoises are a sight, even if not really incredibly active and the snake house is very interesting, especially the part that shows some of Singapore's own pythons, tree snakes and cobras.
Best Times To Go
The Zoo is always worth a visit and with Singapore's weather, any day will be fine.
As is usual in other places, too, weekends get really crowded, as do Chinese New Year and other public holidays.
You may want to avoid the period between Christmas and New Year: many Malaysians and Indonesians come on holiday to Singapore and the Zoo is a prime destination for them, so it can simply get too crowded at many of the exhibits for enjoyable viewing.
All in all, though, have at it.
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