Singapore Zoo is an attraction most of us would have grown up with thanks to family outings and school excursions. Apart from being a part of our core childhood memories, Singapore Zoo was also once home to national mascots and icons like Ah Meng and Inuka the polar bear, who have earned a place in many Singaporeans’ hearts.
Here’s our guide to the Singapore Zoo, including a short history lesson on this zoo loved by generations.
Singapore Zoo in the 1980s.
Image credit: Roots
The Singapore Zoo is officially turning 50 this year, since it opened to the public on 27th June 1973. It started out with just 270 animals and has since grown to a whopping 4,200 inhabitants across more than 300 species.
Image credit: @sonali.mavekar via Instagram
In 1987, rare animals like the Golden Snub-nosed Monkey and White Tiger were on loan from other zoos around the world, introducing Singaporeans to lesser-known species. Today, only the White Tigers remain on display for the zoo’s visitors to marvel at.
Ah Meng Bistro, a tribute to the zoo’s beloved resident.
And of course, most Singaporeans would remember Ah Meng – quite possibly our zoo’s most famous resident till this day. You’ll see tributes to the beloved orangutan when you visit today – such as a life-sized bronze statue and Ah Meng Bistro.
Singapore Zoo’s grounds are now part of the bigger Mandai Wildlife Reserve, which has evolved to house several other attractions like River Wonders, Night Safari and the brand new Bird Paradise.
There are a total of 11 zones housing animals according to their native continents, from Australia and Africa to Asia. Hop on a free buggy tour, which you can catch from 4 stations across the zoo. The tram runs at 3-5 minute intervals, and will take you to these attractions:
If your lifelong dream is to head to a safari in Africa, Singapore Zoo’s Wild Africa zone comes a close second. Here, you’ll see animals native to the continent such as zebras, red river hogs, African painted dogs, and meerkats.
There are also wildlife encounters such as animal feeding – for the giraffes, white rhino, and zebras – at $8 per feeding portion. If you want to learn more about your favourite animals here, join one of the keeper talks. There are daily ones for the fossa, African lion, meerkat, red river hog, and African painted dog.
Next up, the Fragile Forest, which is home to animals from different equatorial rainforests around the world. Look out for the golden lion tamarin, lesser mousedeer, white-faced saki monkey, and Malayan flying fox.
Watch your step – because there might just be a spotted whistling duck waddling next to you. You can also hike up to a viewing platform and get face-to-face with Malayan flying foxes and adorable lemurs.
Lastly, don’t miss the butterfly aviary – you’ll give surrounded by these magical insects here. Keep an eye out for Clipper butterfly, a beautiful species that has become extinct in Singapore’s nature reserves.
Image credit: Mandai Wildlife Reserve
This next one has Lion King vibes. Get a taste of the majestic Ethiopian landscape at the Landscape Of The Rift Valley. Here, you’ll see animals such as the Hamadryas baboons, a herd of Nubian ibexes, meerkats, and rock hyraxes.
You’ll also pass by some stone-walled huts that are replicas of Konso and Amharic villages in Ethiopia. Who says you can’t “travel the world” without leaving the country?
What’s a day at the zoo without catching at least one animal show, right?
One we’d recommend is the Animal Friends Show. Get familiar with the stars here, such as golden retrievers Benji and Buddy, Singapore Special Hope, and snow-white Japanese Spitz Katie and George.
We even got to meet Katie and George after the show.
Besides the doggos, you’ll also meet birds, mice, and cats. Most of these animals were once abandoned pets who are now uber talented performers.
Aside from watching and interacting with the animals, visitors can also head down to the Wildlife Healthcare and Research Centre for an up-close and personal view of the animal surgery and treatment area.
Here’s where animals are treated if they’re sick, rescued animals are rehabilitated and young animals are born. There are also interactive displays where visitors can educate themselves on the roles and responsibilities of the zoo’s vets.
From interactive shows to observing the creatures in their natural habitats, go on a day out to escape the concrete jungle of Singapore and rediscover nature while you’re at it. Plus, to celebrate its 50th birthday this year, the Singapore Zoo also has a lineup of activities as part of its Golden Jubilee.
Here’s your chance to get exclusive backstage passes, go on a Zoo Adventure Tour: ZOObilee edition from 27th June to 27th August 2023, and sign the young ones up for a 2-day Wild Explorer Camp in June.
Not to mention, you can even snap photos with 8 colourful animal sculptures of iconic animals such as Komali the Asian Elephant and Ah Meng the Orangutan as part of the Happy ZOObilee trail.
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More guides to fun attractions in Singapore:
First published by Priscilla Tan on 16th December 2021. Last updated by Dewi Nurjuwita on 22nd May 2023.
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