Monkeying Around

Trip Start Dec 27, 2012
Trip End Jan 07, 2013

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What I did
Singapore Zoo
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of Singapore  ,
Sunday, December 30, 2012

When I learned I would spend the holiday in Singapore, I began my pre-trip research for interesting endeavors to pursue. I quickly stumbled upon the Singapore Zoo's "Breakfast with Orangutans" program. Although Rufio had already participated in the "Night Safari" on a previous business trip, I made a case for the breakfast program, as it had received rave reviews from fellow travelers. I was dismayed when I didn't receive a response from Rufio, so some time later I raised the topic again. 

"Wait, what? You eat breakfast with orangutans???" Apparently the link I sent in a chat had been missed. He was ecstatic about the idea, so upon arrival in Singapore he checked with the concierge about pickup from our hotel. When I arrived, we made a tour arrangement after we confirmed that we were not required to stay on the guided tour. That morning we were picked up at the hotel and transported to a central meeting location at Marina Bay where we transferred buses and headed towards the zoo

Shortly after our arrival the breakfast program began. A colony of Borneo orangutans descended upon a makeshift stage as the breakfast patrons crowded around. Instead of eating, Rufio and I opted to get in the then short line for the photo op before everyone else finished their meals. Unfortunately touching the great apes was strictly prohibited, but being only inches from them, watching them interact with each other and watching you intently as you spoke was enough of a thrill. We gave two handlers our phones for pictures, but of course neither turned out very well. Luckily the professional photographer's photos turned out well (not by chance I supposed), so we decided to purchase the photo as a memento later in the day. 

After breakfast and a little more orangutan watching, we set off to see the other animals. The next 5 hours would be some of the most fun and memorable of the entire trip. At the onset we checked the brochure for feeding times. There were a number of opportunities to feed animals for S$5, so we planned our day around those times. One by one we conquered each region of the zoo, admiring the "free range" concept, the activity levels of the animals (opposed to the typical lethargy witnessed at most zoos) and the close encounters enabled by the zoo design. Cages or pens at this zoo are nearly nonexistent, with most "barriers" created by water or other natural enclosures.  For some non-aggresive species, zoo patrons can be as up-close-and-personal as humanly possible. We took turns feeding giraffes, rhinoceroses, Asian elephants and baboons. At each feeding we were surprised and elated. Giraffes have tongues like cats. Rhinos are huge vacuums. Baboons make great "catch" companions. We met species of birds, monkeys and other mammals we never knew existed. Frolicking through the park, which felt like a natural paradise, made us feel like children again. "This is the best zoo in the entire world!" we both exclaimed throughout the day.

When we had finally seen every species and participated in every show and feeding, we decided to check out our photos and head home. We arrived in time for our nightly happy hour, where we asked for a chili crab recommendation from our favorite staff member. After the lounge we headed to Clarke Quay for the notorious Singaporean Chili Crab, considered the national dish. We snacked on an appetizer of baby octupus before our 1.5 kilogram chili infused crab arrived. The hype was well deserved. Although not as spicy as I had hoped, the crab was sweet and succulent. After dinner we wandered around the Quay, alive with revelers, before ending the night. 

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