The Singapore Zoo opened in 1973, and the 60 plus acre facility started with the primary interest being the public’s ability to enjoy viewing the 2500 exotic animals that call this zoo home. Of the 316 species featured at the zoo, over a third are endangered and the zoo has conservation of those animals as part of the organizations mission. In recent days, more than 1.6 million guests can not only enjoy seeing the animals, but learn about them and the plights that their cousins face in the wild. At every exhibit, a guest will find an interactive educational experience of some kind in this open concept zoo.
As one enters the zoo onto the Rainforest Walk, tamarins chatter overhead and not too far away the songs of gibbons can be heard early in the day. The open design of the zoo creates the illusion that the visitor is sharing the exhibits with the animals, and most enclosures are created in such a way to bring a person an up close and personal view of the animals. For instance, the orangutans, one of the most popular creatures at the zoo, have an enclosure through which elevated boardwalks allow the visitor to almost join them in the canopy of rainforest trees. This offers an opportunity to really see their behaviors up close, and it is a fascinating experience.
Elevated boardwalks are also used to enhance the viewing of the 2 acre elephant enclosure. The elephants have a mud wallow, a bathing pool, and a viewing loft for guests. The exhibit offers a historical perspective of the relationships between Asian elephants and humans, an interaction that began more than 4000 years ago. Elephants are revered in both Hindu and Buddhist religions, but also have been used in human activities in their native range for various work. Twice a day, there is a presentation that explains the use of elephants in what is considered “non-destructive” logging in Indonesia.
In the Fragile Forest exhibit, a guest will feel immersed in the rainforest atmosphere, surrounded by the sounds of insects and mist so typical of the lush environment. The area is more than 20,000 cubic meters, and during a stroll, a visitor will learn about the dependence humans have on the rainforests of the world. There is a diversity of species to encounter, including butterflies, lemurs, mousedeer, sloths, fruit bats, Lories, crowned pigeons and iguanas.
Primate kingdom is another unique exhibit that separates several species of monkey on islands separated by moats. There are too many to name, but a few popular species are the black and white colobus monkey, the strange lion-tailed macaque, the inquisitive brown capuchin, and the long armed black spider monkey. There is also a local group of Javan langurs who might be swinging overhead and some cute cotton-top tamarins to meet.
Another monkey at the Singapore Zoo not to miss is the Proboscis Monkey, native only to a small region in Borneo. These monkeys are recognized by their large, silly, noses. Only the males have the large nose, and the more dominant males have the larger noses, which are attract females. Very endangered, the range of the proboscis monkeys has been threatened because of land being cleared for monoculture farming, mostly for palm oil. The zoo has the largest population of breeding Proboscis monkeys in captivity and has such great success; there are two enclosures for them. One is the group in the breeding program, and one is a bachelor pad for a group of young males. There are 17 in all.
There is much more to see and do at the Singapore Zoo. In the “Outback”, a visitor can have kangaroos and wallabies eat out of their hands. In cat country, there is the Sri Lanka leopard, of which it is believed that there are only 500 remaining in the wild. There are four white Bengal tigers, the jaguar, and feedings can be viewed twice daily. Lastly, there is nothing like seeing an African White Rhino showing off why it is considered a “living lawnmower” during its feeding session daily.