I have been to a lot of zoos. It is something I try to do in almost every city I visit. I love zoos, I love animals, and I love learning about animals. I thought I had been to the best zoos out there. I went to the Bronx Zoo dozens of times, and we had a membership when we lived in New York. Every time I go to San Diego, I visit the San Diego Zoo. Both of these zoos are among the best zoos in the world. Yesterday we went to the Singapore Zoo, and I have to say it was the best zoo I have every visited!
What makes this zoo so amazing it the closeness you feel to the animals. The cottontail tamarinds greet you as you enter the zoo, but not from a cage. In fact, their exhibit consists of two patches of trees connected by branches and vines, with no cage whatsoever. They are free to roam between their two trees and interact with the visitors, which they do. They had an extended clan of tamarinds, about a dozen altogether, including several babies. If you were so possessed, you could touch them, but visitors did not do that. Everyone maintained a respectful distance, and the tamarinds entertained us all with their playful antics. Two sneaked over to the Macaw’s exhibit, also out in the open without a cage, and the keeper came towards them with a net on a long pole. The tamarinds, being intelligent primates, saw the net and darted back to their exhibit. It was a fantastic way to meet the tamarinds.
Obviously, not all animals are able to roam freely. Tigers and lions maintain their distance, but not in cages. Instead their exhibits are separated from visitors by deep moats, concealed from our view by vegetation. Other zoos use this technique, but at the Singapore Zoo, they seemed to get more space in their exhibits.
Other striking things about the Singapore Zoo include lush vegetation in a natural tropical rainforest, hundreds of varieties of beautiful orchids everywhere, frequent trams and boats to get visitors from one are to another, frequent shows and feeding times, and almost all of the animals present in their exhibits. It was so large that in five hours we only visited half the zoo.
If you ask the kids to name their favorite part of the Singapore Zoo, they will no doubt tell you the Rainforest Kidzworld. The best part of this exhibit was by far the water park, so desperately needed because of the heat and humidity. It reminded me of the water play area at Sesame Place or Six Flags, with small slides for kids, giant water buckets that fill and soak the area, water spray areas, splash pools and water guns. It was a welcome relief from the heat, and my kids played here for an hour until it closed, half an hour from the zoo’s closing.
Another exhibit I thought was really intereting for children and grownups alike was the edible garden. In it, they had hundreds of plants that we use for food, medicine and other uses. Because of the climate here, they were able to display plants that aren’t suitable to growing in other regions, like sugar cane and pineapples. It was interesting for all of us to see rubber trees, pepper vines, sweet potatoes, tamarind, lime trees and rice growing. The kids were able to make the connection between the food they eat and the plants that produce the food.
When the zoo closes, you can head on over to the Night Safari, another wonderful zoo with restaurants, bars and a safari trip in the dark. It was absolutely amazing, a topic for another post later. Suffice it to say, the Singapore Zoo is a great place to visit! We can’t wait to go back again!