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12 Animals That Can Become Singapore’s Local Zodiac System, Including Merlion, Koel & Otters

Singapore animals zodiac system

Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. These animals should look familiar – they’re the ones we use in the Chinese zodiac system that cycles every 12 years.

These animals have been part of the zodiac for ages now, but honestly, they’re not very relatable to Singaporeans. I mean, how often have you come across an Ox or a Dragon for that matter? So we decided to reimagine the zodiac with animals native to Singapore:

1. Year of the Rat > Otter

Positive traits: Quick-witted, resourceful, adaptable, and charming.
Negative traits: Opportunistic, cunning, and sometimes overly critical.

Legend has it that the order of the Chinese zodiac was determined by a race among animals. The Rat managed to clinch first place by cunningly climbing on top of the Ox and asking it to run the race for it. Just as they were about to cross the finishing line, the Rat hopped off and sprinted to the finishing line to clinch first place.

singapore animals zodiac - otters
Image credit: Ottercity via Facebook

Devious, just like the animal we’ve chosen – the Otter. These critters are charming, no doubt. If you’ve ever come across a pack of them, you already know you’ll spend at least the next 5 minutes watching their antics.

They’re also resourceful and opportunistic – how many times have we read news stories about otters breaking into homes to feast on thousands of dollars worth of koi fish? And yet, we still love them. No wonder they’re No. 1 in our hearts. And the Singapore zodiac.

Born in: 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020

2. Year of the Ox > Macaque

Positive traits: Diligent, reliable, strong, and methodical.
Negative traits: Stubborn, conservative, and sometimes lacking flexibility.

Alright, we know what you’re thinking – wouldn’t the Macaque be a more appropriate replacement for the Year of the Monkey? Technically, sure. But hear us out. These primates are a determined bunch when it comes to food.

singapore animals zodiac - macaque
Image credit: NParks

They’ve scaled buildings, hijacked Grab delivery bikes, and even crashed birthday parties for a little nom nom. That only proves how strong and diligent they are in getting what they want. Maybe stubborn also lah, considering the lengths they’d go through just to get a taste of human food.

Born in: 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021

3. Year of the Tiger > Hornbill

Positive traits: Brave, confident, passionate, and independent.
Negative traits: Impulsive, hot-tempered, and rebellious.

When you’ve got such a majestic beak on your face, it’s hard not to wake up feeling good about yourself. But that’s the Hornbill for you and our replacement for the Year of the Tiger.

singapore animals zodiac - hornbill
Image credit: NParks

You’d think that such beauty would command a room full of suitors. That might be the case for some but these birds are fiercely loyal to their partner – something we think can only come about through intense passion.

But we also know the passionate type can be quite impulsive and rebellious, which hornbills are too. I mean, one of these wild birds wrestled with a pet bird and another pair pooped all over a flat in Pasir Ris. Siao, eh.

Born in: 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022

4. Year of the Rabbit > HDB Cat

Positive traits: Calm, peaceful, and gentle.
Negative traits: Don’t like changes, sometimes superficial, and timid.

In the Vietnamese zodiac, the Year of the Rabbit is actually the Year of the Cat, and it’s a befitting replacement for Singapore too. But we don’t want purebred beauties like our office ragdolls Pika and Jaymee who’ve never had to endure a day of hard labour in their lives.

singapore animals zodiac - hdb cat
Image credit: @hdb_communitycats via Instagram

No, we specifically want the salt-of-the-earth HDB Cat that hangs out at your void deck. As community cats, they have to endure numerous pets from people when all they want is just a snooze in your bicycle basket. That’s some calm and peaceful zen-ergy right there.

Don’t get us wrong, they aren’t perfect angels. Have you ever noticed HDB cats only like to sleep in the same corner daily? Or eat a particular brand of food? Picky things, they are, but endearing, nevertheless.

Born in: 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023

5. Year of the Dragon > Merlion

Positive traits: Ambitious, charismatic, intelligent, and innovative.
Negative traits: Proud, arrogant, and can be perceived as domineering.

One mythical creature should beget another mythical creature, right? And in Singapore, there’s only one that could take the place of the Dragon – the Merlion. Half fish, half lion, the Merlion is supposed to symbolise the maritime history of our nation, and the fact that Singapore means Lion City.

singapore animals zodiac - merlion
Image credit: @travel.memory__ via Instagram

There aren’t exactly any character traits that the Merlion embodies, but considering it does represent Singapore, innovative sounds about right. Just look at the impressive attractions we’ve built like Gardens By The Bay and the Mandai Wildlife Reserve.

And you can’t have the No. 1 passport in the world or have the world’s best airport without being ambitious. It might sound like we’re bragging, but who wouldn’t when you’ve got all these accolades?

Born in: 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024

6. Year of the Snake > Stingray

Positive traits: Wise, intuitive, and graceful.
Negative traits: Can be secretive, suspicious, and sometimes prone to jealousy.

The Year of the Snake is often overshadowed by the rush of babies that come during the Year of the Dragon. Likewise, people often overlook the indigenous marine wildlife Singapore has as well. Hence the call for the Year of the Stingray.

singapore animals zodiac - stingray
Image credit: MustShareNews

You’ll spot these beautiful creatures in shallow waters if you go for an intertidal walk in mangroves like Chek Jawa and Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve. But we caution you to watch them glide gracefully in the water from a distance. They’re highly suspicious of anyone who comes too close, and will sting when threatened.

Born in: 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013

7. Year of the Horse > Small Dog (approved for HDBs)

Positive traits: Energetic, cheerful, and quick-witted.
Negative traits: Impatient, hot-headed, and sometimes overly assertive.

Head to any dog run in Singapore and you’ll likely see a small dog of some kind. Maybe a chihuahua, a pomeranian, or a toy poodle. These cheerful balls of energy may be miniature but they could surely outrun a child. It’s only apt that they represent the Year of the Horse.

singapore animals zodiac - small dog
Image credit: @lola.loola.liem via Instagram

The similarities don’t just end there. Anyone who has ever lived next to one will know the amount of yapping these furballs do. For treats? For attention? We’re not entirely sure. They say their bark is louder than their bite, but we think it must be a Napoleon complex kind of thing.

Born in: 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014

8. Year of the Goat > Tapir

Positive traits: Gentle, compassionate, and artistic.
Negative traits: Indecisive, worrisome, and prone to being easily influenced.

singapore animals zodiac - tapir
Even the tapir calf’s coat is reminiscent of a Jackson Pollock painting.
Image credit: Singapore Zoo

We had no idea goats were known to be artistic. But if there’s one creature in Singapore that comes remotely close, it’s the Tapir. Standing at half black and half white, their fur coat basically screams avant-garde. Or maybe it’s indecisiveness over picking a lane and sticking to it? They are gentle creatures though, and would rather back away from a fight than be in one.

Born in: 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015

9. Year of the Monkey > Civet Cat

Positive traits: Intelligent, witty, and innovative.
Negative traits: Mischievous, restless, and easily distracted.

Don’t for a second think that the Civet Cat is just a wee lil fellow. These omnivorous creatures are as cheeky as monkeys, just like this one that snuck into a home to have a nap in someone’s toilet

singapore animals zodiac - asian palm civet
Image credit: Our Wild Neighbours

Are they intelligent and witty? Well, we’ve never heard them tell a joke. But it must be a comedic bit if people are willing to drop serious green on the coffee beans you’ve pooped out. In case you didn’t know, that’s how kopi luwak, the most expensive coffee in the world, is made by the way.

Born in: 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016

10. Year of the Rooster > Koel

Positive Traits: Hardworking, practical, and observant.
Negative Traits: Critical, arrogant, and sometimes overly demanding.

singapore animals zodiac - koel
Image credit: LBK

If you aren’t familiar with the Koel, their call is something you’ve definitely heard at the crack of dawn. The distinctive – and loud – “UWUUU, UWUUU” is enough to wake you from slumber. 

That call is from the male birds looking for a female to mate with. So demanding, right? And something about being up that early screams “hardworking” as well. No surprises then that we’re claiming this fowl as a replacement for the Year of the Rooster.

Born in: 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017

11. Year of the Dog > Pangolin

Positive traits: Loyal, cautious, and friendly.
Negative traits: Closed off, anxious, and defensive.

We can’t say much about the loyalty of Pangolins for them to take the 11th place in the Zodiac cycle. But one thing’s for sure, although shy, they can be quite friendly, which is why they’re one of the most trafficked animals in the world.

singapore animals zodiac - pangolin
Image credit: Singapore Zoo

It’s no wonder they can be quite anxious creatures that close up and roll away in the line of danger. That’s what their scales are for – to protect them against predators, or anyone who might be overly critical of them.

Born in: 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018

12. Year of the Pig > Flying fox

Positive traits: Diligent, compassionate, and generous.
Negative traits: Naive, gullible, and sometimes too trusting.

singapore animals zodiac - flying fox
Image credit: Singapore Zoo

They might be called Flying Foxes but they’re actually bats that feed on fruits. If you ever once believed they’re part canine, then you might just be as gullible as one. That’s a trait they share with their Year of the Pig counterpart. Apparently, flying foxes are easy prey for poachers, as all they need is a bite of durian to naively get into a trap.

They are social creatures, though, often preferring to roost in a group rather than by themselves. If anything, that also proves they can be quite the compassionate creature, just like the pig.

Born in: 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019

What animal would you be in the Singapore animal zodiac?

There you have it, 12 Singapore animals that could easily replace the Chinese zodiac. Of course, this is just for laughs and we’re not here to take away from millennia-old traditions. But here’s wishing you a Happy Year of the Dragon! Or Year of the Merlion, we should say?

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