By Angela Hogan
December 15, 2010
After living in Singapore for many years, I’m often asked, “What is the one thing I have to see while in town?” My answer is always the same: The Singapore Zoo and Night Safari. It is without doubt my favorite place to spend an afternoon and evening. The zoo itself is most unique in that it is an open zoo concept. Not to worry though, you won’t be standing in line for ice cream behind some penguins. You will however be walking amongst huge peacocks, who I hear will chase down young children for their ice cream. The open zoo makes you feel more like you’re on safari than just looking at animals through iron bars. There’s nothing but a mote around the lions, cheetahs and some of the more ferocious felines. It is a rather thrilling experience being in such close proximity to something that is eyeing you as a tasty snack. Standing outside the cheetah space, I turned to my husband to remark how close we were standing to the cheetah when I noticed he was nowhere in sight. I eventually found him outside the Meerkat habitat trying to make himself King of Meercats. They were having none of it and I’m pretty sure they were mustering for a possible coup attempt.
I love watching chimpanzees. The little ones were running around taunting their elders while two friends argue over possession of a stick Its like watching a little society in action. The chimp keepers introduce you to all of the residents while they throw fruit to them. You’re able to pick out who the boss is straight away—he’s the one who almost always ends up with the goods. The best part is watching the sneaky ones who steal the bananas, and then pretend like they’ve done nothing. Their caretaker warned me, “Just be careful if one of them starts to throw something back because it quite likely won’t be the fruit so, if you see something hurling towards your head, duck!”
The Night Safari starts at 8pm. If you haven’t purchased your Night Safari tickets beforehand, I suggest you arrive a little early to make sure they don’t sell out. There are two ways to see the night safari: by foot or by a tram that makes periodic stops; however, be warned because if you only pay for the safari on foot ticket, you won’t be able to hop on and off the tram. Being rather…frugal, when my husband suggested we walk because it would be better for our “health,” I assumed there was a hefty fee to ride the tram. I later found out it was only S $15.00 more.
The walk started off nice enough. We watched the Asian Fishing Cat, well, fish. Just down the path, we passed through a gate of some kind not noticing what the gate might be holding in, I found myself literally (and yes, I mean literally) face to face with a fruit bat. We were eye to eye. I tried to move but suddenly, my legs were like lead. I couldn’t speak. My terror quickly turned into complete fascination. How often do you come upon a fruit bat at eye level? I found my feet again when I heard my husband let out a whelp. I figured he had met my new friend’s cousin, so I quickly ushered him out of the fruit bat enclosure before there was some kind of incident.
We walked a bit further until we saw the signs for the hyenas. I’m terrified of hyenas and there was no way I was going to go see them, all scary and vicious. My suddenly brave husband convinced me that I needed to be logical.
“They don’t have hyenas roving around. Its not that open of a zoo!,” he reminded me. Right. Of course we’ll go see the hyenas. As we approached their enclosure, (remember its an open concept, so you don’t really see the enclosed part) they were pacing back and forth. I can’t be sure I made eye contact with a hyena but I had that sense we had a connection. Suddenly the hair on his back bristled while he licked his chops and let out that ghastly laughing sound. As I was fleeing the scene, I convinced myself that I felt the hot breath of the hyena on my neck, and I could hear that maniacal noise they make while killing their prey. Thank goodness, it was only my husband running behind me. After we recovered from our brush with terror, we saw a few other animals like elephants and giraffes, but I was soon ready to go home. It would have been great to hop on the tram and ride back to the entrance, but we couldn’t because my husband was thinking of his wallet, I mean, our health when purchasing the tickets. Being completely exhausted, we somehow managed to wander from the main path. We walked for what seemed like hours, the soupy humidity making everything insufferable. “Where are all of the animals and… other people?” I asked my husband. As he studied the park’s map, I heard “it.” That “it” you hear in your nightmares, the howl of a wolf. My husband, completely oblivious to the fact that we were most certainly in the wolves den, suddenly piped up, “We’re behind the wolves.” I just want to get off of this path before the wolves find us when hubby asks, “Want to see the wolves?” No. I didn’t want to see the wolves. Without missing a beat there was the creepiest most frightening sound I’d ever heard. It was howling wolves and lots of them. I was sure we’d be eaten by the wolves and maybe the hyenas would join in. Then it hit me; that is why the Night Safari is so ingeneous! Its almost like going to those Halloween Fun Houses where people dress in scary costumes and jump out of coffins. People love to get the wind scared out of them. Brilliant, but I was ready to exact my punishment on my better half for making me walk. We were soon back at the entrance souvenir shop buying up every tacky T-shirt and calendar I could find.
To this day it is one of our most treasured memories of our time in Singapore. We later returned but this time, my husband wisely decided to buy tram tickets.
--Night Safari and Zoo
All prices include 7% GST
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