I cannot start this serial articles about zoos without writing about Singapore Zoological Garden, because this is the very place where everything had started from. In my previous article I wrote about Mr. Tony, an animal trainer who I encountered in this zoo 5 years ago. If I didn’t come across with him coincidently, I would not have visited Singapore and Malaysia so often, not knowing many people through Tony.
Setting my episode aside, I rank Singapore Zoological Garden as by far the best zoo out of 24 zoos I’ve visited so far in 5 countries.
Function as a park
What is so amazing about this zoo is that you wouldn’t feel like you are watching zoo animals in captivity. They are really good at displaying animals as if they are in their natural habitat. As you can see in the pictures, you wouldn’t see any concrete ground or metal cages between you and the animals. They use plenty of soil, water and plants to make the exhibition look pretty natural. Not only in the exhibition but they also use a lot of plants and fake rocks for walking trails as well, making the whole zoo look like a jangle.
White Tiger exhibition
Ring-tail Lemur mother&child, just in front of you!
Orang Utan Orang utans are a symbolic animal of Singapore Zoo, and this zoo has succeeded in their reproduction and conservation. The exhibition of orang utans is very unique and surprising. The orang utans can move out of the exhibition brachiating from tree to tree along the fake vane linking those trees! So people can see orang utans just above them on a tree just next to them. But don’t worry, they won’t come down and attack people or escape, because the trees are circled with electric wire so that the animals cannot come down along the tree trunk, and all those trees are tall enough for orang utans not to jump down onto the ground.
Animal shows Another attraction in this zoo is the animal shows. Singapore Zoo has 4 different types of shows: elephant show, sea lion show, multi-animal show, and domestic animal show. The quality of the show is quite good with a lot of entertainment and different kinds of animals. Besides that, according to one animal trainer, the animals are trained in a way that they do not feel stress but rather enjoy it. In some zoos, I heard that animals are not given food before the show so that they listen to the trainer for food. But in Singapore Zoo, I could see show animals are well treated and maybe that is why the trainers can try training difficult actions that cannot be seen in other zoos.
Education Not only the dexterous displays and exciting animal shows, Singapore Zoo excels in terms of education as well. You can see educational panels here and there on the trail, in front of the exhibition, and even on the toilet door. The contents varies from trivia of animals to environmental messages. Each message is related to where it is displayed. For example, an exhibition of the fact and its result of tiger poaching is displayed in front of the tigers, or a panel explaining the circulation of carbon dioxide and oxygen among forest and humans is displayed before the entrance of tropical jungle exhibition. In addition, Singapore Zoo also opens the “feeding time” of some animals. During the feeding time, the keeper explains about the animals’ behavior, characteristics, zoological topics and so on. Both children and adults can learn from these messages very naturally because each message will stay with a memory of related experience, waking in a tropical rainforest with lots of creatures or watching real animals in front of them.
Learning about the importance of forest
Feeding time for manaties
There are many other reasons why I rank this zoo so high, but I cannot write everything so I’ll stop there. But there is one thing I would like to mention as a conclusion. What makes Singapore Zoo such a successful zoo is not only the stable warm climate suitable for most animals and plants, but also, I think, the confidence in the workers to control the animals. Without such confidence, they wouldn’t be able to free animals in front of people, without strong barriers such as deep moats, metal cages or chains on animals’ feet between people and animals.
As I am especially interested in education through animals, I am dreaming of working in a zoo like this in the future.