If you haven't been to a zoo for a while, join Kelly Landry on a tour of Singapore Zoo, which is rated as one of the greatest in the world. It's right in the middle of the city and there's not a cage to be seen. The clever use of moats keeps you and the animals apart, but you feel as though you could reach over and touch them. In some cases you can.
The 28-hectare zoo is home to roughly 3500 creatures, great and small, from around the world.
The Elephants of Asia exhibit leads visitors on an ecological journey modelled after one of the few logging areas where elephants are used in sustainable logging operations. It has viewing lofts, rustic thatched huts and elevated boardwalks. You have a bird's-eye view of mahouts (elephant keepers) bathing and scrubbing the animals.
Orangutans are an absolute favourite and Singapore Zoo has a social group of 25 in a large enclosure with lots of climbing platforms and plenty of escape routes for them should fighting break out. The highly intelligent animals have to be kept occupied or boredom will take over. The zoo uses a technique known as "behavioural enrichment".
The boardwalk and island free-ranging areas allow visitors to watch mothers with babies, while young adults and senior members swing through branches. One of the zoo's most popular attractions is Breakfast with the Orangutans at 8am each day.
The fact that 35 orangutans have been bred since the zoo opened in 1973 means they are in a good physical and emotional state. Zoos in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, India and Vietnam have benefited from the breeding program.
The Primate Kingdom has six large and two small moated islands housing lion-tailed macaques, patas monkeys, capuchins, Celebes macaques, black spider monkeys and many other primates to keep you fascinated. Landscaping of tall trees, long wild grasses, gingers, palms and bamboo creates the perfect forest habitat for the primates and moats are filled with various fish. The most impressive is the South American arapaima which grows up to 4m in length.
Wild Africa lets you enter the world of cheetah, giraffe, lion, zebra and white rhino, A place of strange fauna, it stretches to Africa's remote corners.
The Reptile Garden isn't everyone's favourite place, but those who aren't put off can see the endangered komodo dragons, the world's largest lizard. As you walk through the exhibit you will see iguanas, common marmosets and tortoise.
The Australian Outback exhibit could possibly let you see more of our own fauna than at home. Grey kangaroos, emus, blue-tongue skinks, bearded dragons and carpet pythons live with other species, unique to Australia. One of them, the inland taipan, yields 110mg of venom per bite, sufficient to kill more than 100 people or 250,000 mice. Definitely one to avoid!
Rainforest Kidzworld is fun and educational and themed like a wet animal wonderland. A massive bucket tips loads of water on unsuspecting players, and it's fun to dash under water gushing from spouts. If you didn't bring your swimmers or sunblock, the retail outlet can come to the rescue.
Adults and children can ride a carousel of curious creatures and there are pony rides, too. Horse carriage rides take you on a trot around the periphery and trams do circuits all day. Hop-on and hop-off when you fancy.
Feeding times are staggered so you can follow the keepers around as they dish out food.
The island of Singapore
Singapore Airlines Holidays has a four-night package for the price of three, including accommodation at Novotel Clarke Quay Hotel, zoo entry and coach airport transfers for $416 per person twin share land only. The offer is valid for travel to March 31, 2010, and is subject to availability. Accommodation is based on a standard room rate. Credit card surcharge, booking and ticketing conditions apply.
Singapore Airlines has return flights to Singapore starting at:
- Perth $751
- Melbourne $752
- Adelaide $767
- Sydney $769
- Brisbane $775
For sale until August 28, 2009, and for the following travel periods. Between August 13 and December 13, 2009, January 16 and February 6, 2010, and February 15 to March 31, 2010. All fares include the ticket price, associated taxes and surcharges. Taxes and surcharges are subject to change due to currency fluctuations.
For more Singapore escapes, visit www.siaholidays.com.au.
Singapore Zoo entry is $15 for adults and $7.50 for children. Tram rides cost $4 for adults and $2 for children. The zoo is open from 8.30am until 6pm every day of the year. Orangutan boardwalk feeding times are at 11.30am and 3.30pm. Island feeding times are 2.15pm and 4.30pm.
Jungle Breakfast with Wildlife costs about $20 for adults and $13 for children. Until September 30, 2009, one child dines free with every two paying adults. Book at least a day in advance to avoid disappointment as numbers are limited.
Prices correct at August 13, 2009.
For further information
Singapore Airlines Holidays
Ph: 1300 666 722
80 Mandai Lake Road
Ph: +65 6269 3411
Singapore Tourism Board
Visas: Australian passport holders do not require a visa for a stay of up to 30 days, providing a Social Visit Pass is obtained on arrival. Extensions cost $S40 ($34).
Electricity: 230V at 50Hz using three-pin square shaped plugs.
Time zone: GMT +8.
Currency: Singapore dollar.
International dialling code: +65.