Singapore Zoo

Anxious to get as many stamps in Mercedes’ passport as possible, we decided to take a quick day trip down to Singapore last weekend. It’s incredibly easy to get to Singapore from where we live; I can’t believe we hadn’t yet made the trip. You grab a bus at Larkin Bus Terminal, make a transfer at the Singapore border, and take another bus the rest of the way in. We didn’t hit any traffic on the way home, and the whole trip took less than an hour.

After choosing the worst customs line ever, getting questioned about every single stamp in my passport (methinks he was just very impressed with all of my travels), and nearly getting some feminine products confiscated, we were on our way to the Singapore Zoo. The 69-acre Singapore Zoo consistently ranks as one of the top zoos in the world, with a heavy focus on natural habitats and cage-free environments.

Here’s a walk through our day at the Singapore Zoo. (Warning: This post is super long. Feel free to bypass my commentary and just look at the pretty pictures, if you’d like.)

This tapir greeted us as we walked in. He was behind glass on one side, but as we rounded the corner, we realized his space was completely open, save for a bar and a pool separating us from him:

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Next up is Omar, the fiercest white tiger in all the land. The only thing that kept Omar from eating our faces was a big moat. That didn’t stop him from stalking us, though, and he looked damn good doing it:

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Next we saw some dueling hippos…

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And fed some giraffes!

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My favorite part of the day was the Fragile Forest, a rainforest recreation that’s entirely free range. It’s a little bit like snorkeling on land: you become part of the habitat as you roam around alongside all of the animals.

I could have watched these butterflies for hours, but settled on photographing each one from every possible angle.

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We also saw the Malaysian flying fox aka one of the biggest bats in the world, with a wingspan of up to 2 meters. I was standing underneath a branch of fruit, and constantly felt like I was going to get dive-bombed as they swooped in for their snack.

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We also made friends with a few ring-tailed lemurs. The males use their fancy tails to attract a mate.

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Possibly my favorite animal in the Fragile Forest was the two-toed sloth. After watching a zoo employee petting him, we sneaked in a couple head pats ourselves. So spiky! This guy is the slowest mammal on the planet – so much so that algae grows on his fur.

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While we probably could have spent much longer in the Fragile Forest, we still had a lot of zoo to cover.

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Anyone who knows me well, knows that it took a lot of guts to take the above picture. But he looked cool and reminded me of Kaa from The Jungle Book. So I sucked it up.

To shake off the willies from the reptile house, we headed over to the white rhinos in time for their feeding.

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We learned how properly to feed the rhinos: with our left hands, by sliding the fruit down their horn and into their mouths.

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Next up were the lions, who were also receiving a little snack:

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Om nom nom.

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Moving right along…we happened to wander by the baboons during their feeding time as well. While I tried scoring a free banana to throw to them myself, I settled for watching them instead.

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Our last stop of the day was the elephant show, though I must say that we were dragging by this time (mid-afternoon, after waking up at 5 am to catch our bus). So while I don’t have many pictures of it, it was very cool. I was also happy to learn that their elephant training program is overseen by an animal rights group, which checks to make sure the elephants are being treated appropriately.

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Okay, so I was sort of too tired to take any pictures during the show, but you get the idea. We peeled ourselves out of our chairs and stopped in the gift shop on our way out. I coveted an adorable penguin wearing earmuffs, for the low low price of 22 Singapore dollars (roughly 18 USD). At which point I said – “Take me back to Malaysia! Where I can afford the stuffed animals!”

I highly, highly, highly recommend visiting the Singapore Zoo if you’re ever in the area. The Bronx Zoo is usually the standard against which I hold other zoos, but this one far surpassed it. I love the focus on creating real habitats and natural barriers, so that even if the animals are technically caged in, it doesn’t feel like it. You’re still able to get so close to them – sometimes very close, as in the Fragile Forest – that it almost doesn’t feel like a zoo at all. It was a fantastic experience, and I’ll definitely be back.

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