Wrote this a little a little while ago and never posted it but, went to the zoo today and thought it was an apposite time to post it. Nothing's changed, it's still great value and entertainment!
Situated at the heart of the Central Catchment Area in the north of the Island, Singapore Zoo is one of the larger jewels in the country’s richly encrusted crown. Popular with locals and tourists alike, the zoo lays claim to an extensive collection of animals (over 2500 at last count) and numerous attractions. There is more than enough to keep a family occupied for a day and still want to come back for more. The Zoo sprawls over 28 hectares, a big space in a small country. This means that even when the car park is busy there is still space inside to call your own. The Zoo opens out in front of you as you explore the many pathways that lead from the entrance through the primeval feeling tropical plants. Exhibits nestle in amongst the green, lush plants and flowers that adorn the zoo making it a much more natural experience than some other old concrete relics.
There are several big draws when it comes to the animals themselves, chief among them the orang-utans. The ‘free-ranging’ buffoonery (the collective noun for the group), live in a very large enclosure which allows them to roam through the trees above your heads, the young orang-utans being gently chided by the patriarch of the group. For something really special, get there early to experience breakfast with these “men of the forest” (advance bookings are recommended). Other animals get their meal times throughout the day so you will always be guaranteed to be able to watch the inhabitants enjoy their food, whether it is the Water Monitor Lizards, Lions or Chimpanzees. You can even feed some of them yourself although I wouldn’t recommend volunteering to feed the King Cobra!
Arriving early is advisable, especially with younger children. You get to enjoy the coolest part of the day and there’s still plenty of shade for the little ones. It is also the quietest time of the day, Singaporeans are not renowned for getting up and out too early! The whole Zoo is stroller and wheelchair friendly (wheelchairs can be obtained at the entrance at no extra cost), with all attractions being accessible via ramps. If you get fed up with pushing a stroller, why not opt for one of the electric scooters that are available to hire? You can even put the kids to work by pulling one of the wagons available to rent. Mind you, it's hot work when the sun comes out (I can fully testify to that!)
In addition to these modes of transport you can also catch the tram (Adults S$5, Children S$3), which runs regularly throughout the day and covers a large amount of the park with unlimited hop-on hop-off stops all day. Another, more serene, way of getting about is to take the boat ride (Adults S$6, Children S$3.50) across the reservoir.
Singapore Zoo prides itself on being a learning zoo and as such has many extra exhibits to help young and old learn a little bit more about what they are seeing in front of them. In addition to this are the shows that go on through the day and are free to attend. These include Elephants at Work and Play, The Rain Forest Fights Back and Splash Safari which is held in the impressive Shaw Foundation Amphitheatre.
Kids can run wild but, be warned, if they reach the water park before you do then you’ll be there half the day! Fortunately this is no bad thing as the water park is a step up from the usual wet plays. It boasts slides, tubes, fountains and huge buckets of water periodically emptying over gleeful children’s (and occasionally adult’s) heads. If this sounds a little risky then fear not, as with most things in Singapore, safety was at the forefront during the design. The kids play until they are tired out at which point you can relax for lunch at one of the five restaurants and fast food outlets on offer. Unlike some tourist attractions the price of the food is very reasonable and tastes good too ranging from Asian to Western cuisine.
There are many ways to get to the zoo via public transport, however, due it’s location I would recommend taking a taxi ride there. Although I wouldn’t always recommend this as the mode of transport to use in Singapore it does save you time to enjoy the rest of the day and is not that expensive. This is especially true if you are travelling with children.
DO remember to bring your sunscreen, sunglasses, rain poncho and swimwear (including the adults, you’ll regret it if you don’t, one way or the other!).
DON’T expect to cover the whole zoo in a day. You will likely exhaust yourself in this very humid atmosphere and not end up enjoying it as much as if you relax and just take it easy.