"When I see an Elephant fly....."

Trip Start Aug 04, 2011
Trip End Jan 04, 2012

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Flag of Singapore  ,
Monday, October 10, 2011

Being reasonably travelled around these parts we knew of a Zoo in the Singapore area. On our last visit we noted the sign as we visited the sister Night Safari just across the road. I visit a lot of zoos. I get what a zoo needs and how it can be successful. As part of our marriage paperwork 3 years ago I'm pretty sure I picked up something in the terms and conditions stating that I must visit a Zoo in every possible corner of the globe when time allows. I shrugged it off as a nothing at the time.

Now 2 months into our travels I have visited A Panda Sanctuary (Zoo), two aquariums (Zoo’s) and counting this trip, two actual zoo’s. The last 'Zoo’ was in Ho Chi Minh City and it left me somewhat upset by the poor treatment being provided to the animals. I was hoping for an improvement – and when in doubt – Trust Singapore.

The Night Safari was good, and we barely saw an animal (It was dark funnily enough). The Zoo was simply one of the best I have came across and off the top of my head I have been to Banham, Chester, Whipsnade, London, Marwell (I think that’s its name), Monkey world, Woburn etc the list goes on.

We took the bus and tram in saving us some money. Kate had a carefully planned schedule which involved us visiting the 4 shows on offer and touching ever square foot of the park missing nothing. I just wanted to see some big Cats and the Polar bears , don’t ask – I just think they are cool (Cool – he he).

Straight away we were behind schedule missing one of the shows – this meant we would now have to stay till 5pm to watch the re-run. 7 Hours in the park.

The first show was an ‘Animals Friends show’ which starred obscurely a few dogs, a couple of cats and some mice (Not normal Zoo material). The show was tailored to 3-4 year olds and Kate loved it (Not being mean, she did and if I’m honest I did too – It was like car crash TV). The animals did some running around tricks and chased balls etc as they do. One young dog however was on stage to do some jumping tricks and decided he just wouldn’t play ball. The patience of the trainer was amazing all through the rapturous laughter of the crowd as the dog just refused to jump at the right moment. I loved it. Cruel.

When the dog succeeded it was pretty impressive, but the show was great because it was crap.

Due to the dog’s antics, we had yet again overrun and missed another show.

While we were in the area we spent some time looking at the kiddie’s farm. I was easily  entertained by a great fight between too male goats and the sight of a young kid goat trying to mate a lady goat maybe 4 times his size. Good moxy kid. He’ll do well in this world.

The next available thing to watch was ‘The Animals Fight Back’ show which was a carefully choreographed show involving a land developer threatening to strip down the rainforest with some playful animals causing him to inevitably end up in the swim. The show featured everything from monkeys to ducks and was good fun – things getting better.

Now the park itself is a pleasure to walk around. Everything seems close, yet the enclosures are large and blend into the natural surroundings of the park itself. This gives the impression on most occasions that the enclosures are open, and in some cases they are (Orangutans are ‘free’ to wander around the treetops). We found a small Macaque monkey a little lost in the middle of the pathway as he had somehow escaped his island. We quickly found out how when he scaled a nearby tree and then threw himself half way to the island and into the middle of the moat. He swam to the other side and shook himself off, however he maintained the bedraggled look for some time after. Another time we came across a Malaysian monitor Lizard which is pretty big and slopes around in the undergrowth. Kate didn’t like him too much.

Shortly after the monkey drowning we found that all the moats are teaming with fish and wildlife – the whole place is alive. Kate felt the necessity to poke her finger in the water and then withdrew it twice as quick when a largish fish took a splashing dive at it. Just around the corner a sign states ‘do not attempt to touch the fish as they will bite’. Typical.

The White Tigers provided endless amusement. They swim! Who would have known!? Awaiting the feeding session, the female tigers took to the water to get closer to the point which they are fed from and then defended this territory angrily from the male tiger. Excellent stuff. They leapt for their food and occasionally dropped it in the water, providing  a wonderful sight as the Tigers desperately tried to get the food out without getting their ears wet.

Onto maybe the best thing I have ever seen in a Zoo. The ‘Elephants at Work and Play Show’. Wonderful. Four elephants with their trainers doing tricks, comedy and feats of strength. Highly amusing, brilliantly executed.  Nothing more to be said – nothing bad to say about it.

The Sealion Splash show at the end of the day was a nice water show, but I have seen better as there was only one Sealion. The comedy aspect was once again brilliant though and that’s kinda what sets this place apart from other Zoo’s. The shows are more than just showing off the animals, they are trying to entertain with some gusto. We stayed behind to watch the patient trainers work the sealion a bit longer in a training session which you are kindly allowed to stay in and witness.

There were some other great highlights including the sheer number of standard animals they had, an enclosure with free ranging Lemurs, Bats and Birds and of course the famed Orangutans.

What was missing? The bloody Polar Bears. The damn zoo is building a ‘River Safari’ to join the chain and so the Polar Bear is holidaying somewhere until that’s complete. What a waste of time?! To top it off, I’d sat in some bird poo at some point which had left a dirty great blob on my backside. Why did we bother?! 

With the Night Safari, The Zoo, The Bird Park (Which I’ve heard is very good) and the soon to be complete (2012) River Safari, this has to be the best animal park in the world. I may be wrong, and I’m sure being married to Kate I will find out.

We headed back to the Hostel having completed 4 great busy days in Singapore.

I was hoping before we came here I wouldn’t be disappointed with coming back as it stands as one of the highlights of all the places I’ve been. Could it live up to my expectations on a budget? Could it deliver as much now as it did on our post wedding high?

It has delivered in spades and I recommend it to anyone. Just bring lots of money with you and don’t bring a calculator – You won’t want to know how much you are paying for things.
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