Singapore Zoo. It’s one of the first thing you hear, when you ask for a “must see” in Singapore. Not only is it the perfect escape from the concrete jungle to the tropical rainforest, it’s also considered to be one of best zoo’s in the world. With its focus on education and its “open-concept”, visitors are getting the ultimate wild life experience. ScandAsia has visited the zoo to understand what makes Singapore Zoo one of the greatest.
The expectations are sky high before our visit to Singapore Zoo. Everyone recommends it. Everyone. “It doesn’t matter if they have even been in Singapore or not. It was something everybody said I had to do during my visit in Singapore,” says Kirstine Brøgger Jensen, architect at Ramsbøll, Denmark. She visited the zoo with her children in May 2016, which makes her one of the annual 1,7 million visitors to the zoo. She has already been visiting a lot of zoos around the world, and award-winning zoos are also to be found in Scandinavia. We are about to find out what makes one of the world’s best zoo. Yasmin Basir, corporate communication executive at Wildlife Reservations will guide us.
For a starter, we are already impressed by the size of Singapore Zoo, which covers 26 hectares divided into three parks: Singapore Zoo, River Safari, and Night Safari. Yasmin explains, that all of them have an “open concept”-design in common, which allows visitors to get really close to the animals in their natural surroundings. In total, the park is home to over 2,800 animals representing over 300 species, which are displayed in large, naturalistic habitats separated from visitors by hidden barriers that include vegetation, streams, moats and rocks.
“The open concept is great, because you are not only getting to see the animals, you are also gaining an insight of natural habitat. It made the visit even more entertaining, and especially the option to participate in the feeding of the animals was an amazing opportunity to get close to the animals,” says Kirstine Brøgger.
Special activities are organised to enhance the experience of visitors to the park, for example musical performances and magic shows on public holidays.
During month-long school holiday periods in June and December, there are themed campaigns with value-added activities catered to children, such as craft stations and educational booths.
Additionally, not only are the exhibits continually improved to ensure that guests always have something new to look forward to with each visit to the park, facilities are also regularly maintained and upgraded to ensure that guests can have a memorable and meaningful experience.
Close to the animals night and day
As mentioned, visitors are impressed by the open concept at Singapore Zoo. It is
well-known for its walk-through immersive exhibits where animals and visitors share a space for incredibly intimate encounters, allowing for a memorable experience. We walk along with orangutans in the free-ranging orangutan habitat, which Singapore Zoo can boast of being the first in world to have. Here is it possible to dine together with the orangutans, as Singapore Zoo is the only place in the world where you can have breakfast with not one but an entire family of orangutans. According to Yasmin Basir, this breakfast programme is extremely popular for family gatherings, and even for weddings. During our visit in the zoo, a big conference is being held in the evening, where excited guests are having dinner surrounded by happy orangutans.
At Fragile Forest, visitors can enter a massive bio-dome to journey through the different levels of a rainforest. There, we stand right next to a Malayan flying fox as it eats a papaya, while a ring-tailed lemur passes us, and over our heads are colorful birds flying. The animals are not scared of us. Since we are so close to them, we feel great for not disturbing them by our presence, and we are happy to see, that they are living their life peacefully.
Another unique way to meet the animals and to get the absolute wild life experience is the outstanding Night Safari. It’s the world’s first safari park for nocturnal animals, where visitors get the amazing opportunity of seeing over 2,500 animals in their naturalistic nighttime habitats. According to Kirstine Brøgger, the Night Safari tour was the definite highlight of the zoo.
“It’s an exceptional experience to go around in the dark and watch animals, who usually sleep during the day. You are literary walking inside some of the paddocks of herbivorous animals. It’s amazing!” she tells.
The best way to begin the exploration of Singapore’s famous nightspot is on a guided tram tour of 40-minute, which takes you into the domain of the world’s most fascinating nocturnal animals. The tram guide will fill you in on the special residents as you journey through 7 geographical zones of the world. There are small pitstops during the tram ride, where guests can have a break or continue the journey on their own feet on the walking trails. There are signs displayed everywhere, so we are not afraid to get lost in the dark, and neither are we missing any information about the different animals. Even if we felt really close to the animals during daytime, it feels even more authentic to be surrounded with them in the moonlight.
Singapore Zoo is also a Learning Zoo, where the guest experience involves understanding the animals at a deeper level through well-designed and interactive educational displays.
A park for everyone
The zoo experience is for all age ranges. Whether you are looking for activities, education, or simply just a walk in the enormous beautiful garden to Singapore Zoo.
“I like how Singapore Zoo is for everyone. The children-friendly activities are not separating anything for other visitors, and the parks and the experiences are easily accessible and entertaining for all ages. And if you are visiting with kids, there are small trams to help you get around when the little feet are getting tired,” says Kirstine Brøgger.
Education, experiences, and endless of impression. We understand why Singapore Zoo is rated as one of the best in the world, and we look forward to visit the wonderful animals, the helpful staff, and the park again, when we need a break from the urban environment.
All photos are kindly borrowed from Wildlife Reservations Singapore.