Singapore Zoological Gardens
Singapore Zoological Gardens Review
You get the impressionthat animals come here for a vacation and not, as is often the case elsewhere, to serve a prison sentence. The zoo, which is set in the middle of natural rain forest with stunning views of nearby reservoir lakes, has an open-moat concept, wherein a wet or dry moat separates the animals from the people. A mere 3-foot-deep moat will keep humans and giraffes apart, since a giraffe's gait makes even a shallow trench impossible to negotiate. A narrow water-filled moat prevents spider monkeys from leaving their home turf for a closer inspection of visitors. Few zoos have been able to afford the huge cost of employing this system, which was developed by Carl Hagenbeck, who created the Hamburg, Germany, zoo at the turn of the century. The Singapore zoo has managed by starting small and expanding gradually. It now sprawls over 69 acres of a 220-acre forested area.
The zoo has used its massive glass viewing windows to great effect: not only can you watch polar bears perform "ballet" underwater and pygmy hippos do less graceful things, but you can also observe such big cats as lions and jaguars close up. At the reptile house, be sure to seek out the Komodo dragons, which can grow to 10 feet in length. The primate displays are striking, too, and the orangutan enclosure shows off the world's largest captive orangutan group. The educational Fragile Forest exhibit has displays of the rain forest and mangrove ecosystems. Some animals are free ranging, conditioned to stay in the zoo by territorial needs, as well as by readily available food and shelter. In all there are about 3,000 animals from around 160 species here.
Try to arrive at the zoo in time for the buffet breakfast. The food itself isn't special, but the company is: orangutans, a python, and an otter. The Jungle Breakfast (daily at 9 am) is one of the zoo's most unique attractions.
At the primate-and-reptile show, monkeys, gibbons, and chimpanzees have humans perform tricks, and snakes embrace volunteers from the audience. There are performances by fur seals, elephants, free-flying storks, and other zoo inhabitants at various times throughout the day. The zoo's special shows and viewing galleries allow visitors to get close to its animals; a recent addition is the Elephants of Asia, which showcases elephants in a Burmese forest habitat.
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