Singapore Zoological Gardens

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Denitoa on June 2, 2008

Keith and I both agree that Singapore Zoo's Night Safari is the best thing we've ever done in our lives! It may be a good idea NOT to go during Chinese New Year because Singapore lets off a massive fireworks display ... or maybe that's a reason to go because there's no greater high than getting spooked by angry lions, I promise you.

We didn't take many photographs because you're forbidden to use a flash around the animals but we did take photos around the cafe where we sheltered from the fireworks.

Backstory: It's a program where Singapore Zoo supports its "Endangered Species Breeding Program" by letting gits-like-us walk through their forests at night for a price. Keith read about it and decided he wanted to do it desperately and, like a good wife should, I went along to ensure he wasn't eaten by leopards.

The whole place is lit with moon-light levels of blue light discretely placed around the trees so you don't notice the source and you wander freely along paths through the rainforest where, if you're lucky, you get to see all their noctural creatures. It's meant to be all open-and-free but I noticed subtle
contouring of the landscape with ha-has and electric wire and mesh and non-reflective glass in appropriate places which made me very happy because the concept really is downright irresponsible when you think about it.

There are also trams if you don't want to do the thing on foot which is also very kind of them. And there's a chic cappachino cafe, all sienna plaster and gorgeous, right in the centre of the jungle for if the going gets tough - or for you to hide in whenever the city lets off fireworks and the animals get all narky. It's my idea of a perfect world to have cafes in the centre of jungles, although
the tea they make here is inexorable!

OK, now for the animals. If you want to read about what happened with the angry spooked lions you'll have to go to my blog at because there's not space for that story in here but I have to say it was definitely the highlight of the five hours we were out there. That whole episode was soooo cool despite the fact they didn't maul the American couple who so richly deserved it. "The lion sleeps at night!" indeed! Idiots!!!

But I'm telling you about the animals!!! We saw lots of a very wide range of various endangered species but mostly only off in the distance so it was mostly like a regular zoo.
However we did have a few meaningful encounters which took our breath away. Like, we had a tapir come right up to us and it stood right next to Keith and put her head on his ch. Just stood there. It was black-and-white and HUGE. I didn't know they came that big. They tell you not to touch the animals but there's nothing you can do if they want to touch you. Keith was transfixed with the wonder of it and was glowing with pure pleasure. Then a tram came along and she moved off or we'd probably still be there now.

And then there was the tarsier I think they're called. That encounter was so magical and over so quickly. We were going "Did that really happen?" in breathless whispers for ages afterwards. We were walking along when something winsy-small leapt onto a log right next to us. We thought it was a mouse but then it stood upright and put its hands on its hips and glared at us. It had a hairless chest and only two nipples and, athough they say tarsiers are about six inches tall this one was only about the size of my middle finger. Truly, it looked like a tiny massive-eyed brown hairy fairy. And then it jumped off
the log and vanished into the undergrowth. Instant love! I instantly wanted to get involved in preventing the destruction of whatever rainforest in whatever part of the world this magical little creature comes from just so they can continue to live on this planet. Gorgeous!

And there was the leopard. Most disappointing. This spotted cat the size of a labrador leaps down onto a rock right next to us, winds around our legs, looks up at us benignly and says "Meeow!" before leaping up onto a high rock and vanishing. We're going "I didn't know leopards said "Meeow!" and "If that's what leopards are really like we've been conned our whole lives." It wasn't until half-an-hour later when we came across three - real leopards that we discovered what we'd encountered earlier was something totally different. (We looked it up in "What leopard is that?" on the zoo's identification chart and discovered it was a Clouded Leopard and they're basically harmless and very cat-like.)

Real leopard-leopards are exactly what we've all been led to believe. They're HUGE, heavily muscled, are downright scary and they say "Rooooaaarrrrr" the way they're meant to.

These ones were in a supposedly-invisible meshed area and behind supposedly-invisible glass - but they were leaning right up against it, trying to get to us, so we could see it was a con - and one of the nicest cons I've ever come across - I would have HATED meeting these ones for real - but they are genuinely terrifying creatures. RESPECT!!!

Oh, and there were other cat-creatures behind glass as well. They were the size of house-cats and looked like the sort of creatures you'd have in your home. It was only the lean muscle-mass and the spots that let you know they weren't regular cats. They looked so harmless we couldn't understand why they were as discretely removed from contact as the leopard-leopards, but when we looked up "What leopard is that?" we discovered they're really terrifying as well. Can't remember
what they're called but they're considered very, very dangerous.)

What else did we see up close? Oh, the otters. They were so cute. They were hungry and doing tricks for us. We were so pleased when a nice Malay forest ranger came up to throw fish to them because we felt mean seeing them work so hard when we had nothing to give them. Hard to
believe these are actually wild animals, but they are.

Oh, oh, oh, the mouse-deer. They were only a foot away from us. Sooo gorgeous. They're so tiny and they look exactly like guinea pigs on
And that's the main of what we encountered although we saw heaps and heaps more. Elephants frolicking in a river in a gully. Lots of tigers - even the zoo's very special albino tiger - on their own small island. (Tigers are even bigger than the leopards which were themselves even bigger than the lions) Giraffes, zebras, huge range of endangered deer, lots of things I'd never heard of and lots of things I had but never expected to see. In fact, they've got a veritable Noah's Ark on that island. Just about every endangered species on earth.

And they're breeding them successfully too.
That was actually the most important part of the safari for me. I checked to see that the successful breeding had continued since letting people wander around among these creatures. I wouldn't have been a party to it if it hadn't.

So that was the Night Safari. A beautiful beautiful experience. Five gorgeous hours. We didn't want to leave but a nice Indian guy came along and told us it was twenty minutes past midnight and the zoo was actually closed and we'd missed all the regular transport but the staff bus was leaving in ten minutes so we could go with them if we left immediately.

We said we didn't mind staying all night and why didn't he just pretend he hadn't seen us but he said the lights were already meant to be off and it got genuinely frightening in the real dark, so we walked back with him out of the jungle.

So that's the Singapore Night Zoo Safari. You have to do it. You really must. Put it on your list of Must-dos and circle it in red and give it a very high priority. It's the best thing we've ever done and I want you all and everyone else on earth to do it too ... and let's all do everything we can to save the rainforest ... if only so the world can continue to have tarsiers which are the best
thing I have ever, ever, ever seen EVER,
Singapore Zoo
80 Mandai Lake Road
Singapore, Singapore, 729826
(65) 6269 3411

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