We got a later start that day, having lunch at the Bugis Junction mall before my brother Jay and I separated from the rest of the family to go to the Singapore Zoo. I was the only one who hadn’t been to the zoo – they went there during the Singapore leg of their Asian cruise last 2008 – but Jay went with me anyway because he wanted to see the animals again.
The Singapore Zoo is out of the way compared to the other must-visit places in Singapore, requiring a 30-minute MRT ride from Bugis to Ang Mo Kio station and another 30 minutes on the 138 bus. What the guides don’t tell you is where the bus stop for the 138 bus is – it’s the big bus terminal across the street from the MRT station. We ended up taking a taxi to the zoo from the station (S$9. 40) after not finding the right bus stop after 15 minutes of looking.
We got there are around 1:30pm, leaving us 4.5 hours to look around (the zoo closes at 6pm). Basic entrance is S$20 per adult, though you can opt to get the Zoo-per Saver pass (S$27 for adults), which gives you admission + unlimited boat and tram rides, or the Park Hopper pass (S$58), which gives you admission to the Singapore Zoo, Night Safari, and Jurong Bird Park. If you’re going to be in the zoo for the entire day, I suggest getting the Zoo-per Saver pass. The tram saves you some walking time between exhibits and the boat ride takes you around the perimeter of the park (and it looked like a lot of fun too).
Once inside, get a map of the zoo and skip ahead to page with the feeding schedules. The folks at the Zoo were kind enough to organize the animals’ feeding schedules into three “Feeding Trails” – itineraries that maximize the number of feedings that you see during your visit. There are two morning feeding trails and one in the afternoon. It goes without saying that you ought to visit the exhibits during feeding time. You not only get to see the animals eating but also get an entertaining and educational presentation from the park staff.
Don’t forget to also watch the shows! 😀 The Singapore Zoo has four shows: “Rainforest Fights Back” (featuring mammals and birds of the rainforest), “Splash Safari” (California sea lion), “Elephants at Work and Play” (Asian elephants), and “Animal Friends Show” (domesticated animals). Apparently, my brother and I don’t know how to plan a functional itinerary so we only got to see “Splash Safari” and “Animal Friends Show” *facepalm*. The “Animal Friends Show” features animals rescued from shelters and is quite new, so come to the show with compassion and patience. “Splash Safari” was both great fun and awe-inspiring.
There are raging debates on the purpose of zoos and aquariums in the age of Discovery Channel and the internet. While I will admit to not being 100% comfortable with wild animals in captivity, I do acknowledge that zoos and aquariums still have an important role to play in educating the public and conservation. While Discovery Channel shows us these animals in their natural habitat, there is still a disconnect between us and the animals because of the nature of the medium used. In contrast, animals in captivity allow people to get up close and personal with these fascinating creatures. With the proper information and presentation, zoos and aquariums are capable of forging emotional bonds between us and the animals. I should know: a visit to SeaWorld Orlando in 1997 set me on the path to becoming a marine biologist.
We left the zoo at 6:15pm and met up with the rest of our family at the Singapore Flyer by 7:30. At 165 meters tall, the Singapore Flyer is the tallest observation wheel in the world. It’s taller than the London Eye by a good 30 meters. The original idea was to ride the Flyer at sunset – as recommended by various travel guides – but that didn’t happen. No worries though, as riding the Flyer at night gave us amazing views of the lights of the Singapore skyline.
Before boarding the pods, you go through “Journey of Dreams”: a new multimedia exhibit on the history of Singapore and the Singapore Flyer. At a regular pace, it takes about 30 minutes to go through. After the exhibit, it’s time to get into the capsules 😀 Each capsule holds up to 28 passengers but if it’s a low-volume day, the staff won’t fit the capsule to capacity.
And this is what you get once you’re at the top. I’d say it was worth the wait and the price of admission (S$26.55 if pre-booked online) 🙂
After the Flyer, we took the bus back to our hotel. My mom and I decided to stay behind and browse through the Bugis Market while everyone else went on ahead. I didn’t find anything I was really interested in, though I did buy souvenir magnets for my friends back home.