First-timer’s guide to Singapore Zoo, Night Safari, and more

Alecs Ongcal
First-timer’s guide to Singapore Zoo, Night Safari, and more
Take a peek inside the Singapore Zoo, Jurong Bird Park, River Safari, and Night Safari, where you can be kissed by giraffes and monkeys swing overhead

SINGAPORE – Singapore is a well-known destination for shopping, food, entertainment, and attractions, but it’s also known to have limited resources – you won’t find many natural reserves, let alone animals, in this small country.

Enter Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), a collective of 4 world-class zoos – Singapore Zoo, Jurong Bird Park, River Safari, and the Night Safari – that make the country a destination for animal lovers.

“What makes us different is how we display our animals. It’s very open. Being open, you see the animals in open light. You respect them and you know more about their behavior,” said Shaiful Rizal, the assistant manager for corporate communications at the WRS, about the different animal parks.

At the parks, there are huge habitats left and right filled with different creatures.

To project respect toward the animals, each of the parks’ exhibits are at eye level, as opposed to other zoos where guests look down at animals in pits.

Zoos are usually designed to keep animals away from humans, but in this case, there are some animals the guests can easily get close to and interact with.

LORI LOFT. A peacock freely minding its own business as children feed little lories. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

NEW TOY. Curious otters swim towards a water bottle a guest used to tease them. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

The ropes hanging above people’s heads, for example, aren’t just for decoration – a variety of monkeys use those to play around and surprise guests.

WHAT'S THAT? People take photos of monkeys playing on ropes hanging on top of them. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

If you’re planning a visit, keep in mind that the early bird gets the worm – or in this case, the early guest gets the best shows. “Visit first thing in the morning. It’s cooler, animals are up looking for food, and the keepers are feeding, so it’s always best to visit in the morning,” Shaiful said.

If you’re willing to brave the smell of fish, you can see the water birds at the River Safari – like penguins, pelicans and flamingoes – during this feeding time.

FEEDING TIME. African penguins gather as their keeper feeds them. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

FOOLING AROUND. A friendly elephant gently returns a hat her keeper dropped during the show. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Be there early, skip breakfast in your hotel, and dine with the orangutans. Aside from getting a buffet, guests can already start their day with a selfie with an orangutan family. 

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

As you make your way through the Singapore Zoo and the Jurong Bird Park during the day, the heat might discourage you from walking the long trails that lead to different animal attractions. When it gets to this point, you may have to shell out a little extra (5 SGD for adults and 3 SGD for children), but the tram ride doesn’t seem that bad. Over at The River Safari, you can take a boat tour instead.

DIRECTIONS. Street signs are scattered everywhere to guide guests inside the park. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

BOAT TOUR. 15% of the River Safari is toured on a boat. The rest of the attractions must be visited by foot. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

You can also find a spot to rest and take a break before continuing your journey. There are many food stalls scattered throughout the parks, serving cold beverages and a few snacks.

With a donation of 5 SGD, guests can get the chance to feed the animals with a bucket of their favorite food. “Do you want him to kiss you?” a zookeeper asked a fellow reporter, referring to a giraffe. If you hold a carrot near your cheek, the animals will give you a little kiss.

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

You’ll run into many surprises as you make your way through the parks. In the middle of an aviary hosting 600 birds, for example, is a 30-meter man-made waterfall. It is grand and calming, but that’s not the biggest surprise there.

Someone made the most of the scenery and conspired with the WRS organizers for a very exciting wedding proposal for his girlfriend. Even a well-trained cockatoo was part of the plan, as ring bearer, flying out of nowhere.

SURPRISES. A variety of fauna and flora surround a 30-meter man-made waterfall deep in the aviary. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

On December 26, Singapore Zoo’s resident polar bear, Inuka – the first to be born in the tropics – turned 25. His birthday was celebrated with the “Our Arctic Future” photo display at the zoo’s Frozen Tundra exhibit.  

HAPPY BIRTHDAY. Inuka, the first polar bear born in the tropics, turned 25 years old at the Singapore Zoo. Photo courtesy of Wildlife Reserves Singapore

As darkness falls, it’s time to head over to The Night Safari. The Night Safari is the only animal park that is open during the evening, showcasing nocturnal animals.

The Night Safari is also a soothing attraction for more mature audiences. There is no need to walk because there are scheduled tram rides touring groups of people around the park.

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

NOCTURNAL CREATURES. A keeper holds a Eurasian eagle owl at the entrance of the Night Safari. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Cameras with flash and loud noises are not allowed inside. Also, do not stick your hand outside the tram – as you start your journey in the tram, you’re also entering an open habitat. There are no fences or glass windows to keep you away from the animals. Although there are deep trenches to keep you away from the more dangerous ones, the experience is just as real as when you are in the wild.

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Those rules aside, it’s best to take Shaiful’s advice and “just enjoy it.”

She may have only said that about the Night Safari, but it’s advice that’s applicable to all 4 parks, whether you’re exploring the wild, the sky, the sea, or the mysteries of the night.

Here’s how much it costs, in Singapore dollars, to enter each park:

  • Jurong Bird Park – Adult $28, Child (3 to 12 years old) $18*. 
  • Night Safari – Adult $42.00, Child (3 to 12 years old) $28.00*. Admission includes tram.
  • River Safari – Adult $28.00, Child (3 to 12 years old) $18.00, Senior Citizen (60 years old) $14.00.
  • Singapore Zoo – Adult $32.00, Child (3 to 12 years old) $21.00

*Admission for children below 3 years old is free.

Check out more of the stuff you can see and do at the 4 animal parks through these photos:

WATCH ME GROW. There is a nursery center where guests can watch little birds grow. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

TIME TO EAT. An excited baby cockatoo is ready to be fed by its keeper. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

– Rappler.com

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