A Day With The Singapore Zoo, River Safari And Night Safari!

Last Sunday, I spend my birthday at the Singapore Zoo and River Safari for the second consecutive year ever since I found out that Singaporeans enter WRS (Wildlife Reserves Singapore) parks for free on their birthdays.

I arrived at the Zoo bright and early that morning to collect my complimentary tickets from the ticketing booth.

After getting my tickets, I head straight for the River Safari because I wanted to see the Manatees and Araipaima first.

While most people visiting the River Safari naturally turn left towards Rivers Of The World, I head for the opposite direction towards the Amazon Flooded Forest where the Manatees and Araipaima are.

The River Safari is designed in a loop so visitors can just go clockwise (or anti-clockwise like I did) around the park. The Rivers Of The World is at the beginning of the loop while the Amazon Flooded Forest is at the end of it. Since the majority of the crowd are at the other side, I have the Amazon Flooded Forest all to myself!

I make myself comfortable and let my senses take in the wonders of the Amazon. Isn't it amazing how watching the Manatees swim actually helps one to forget his troubles momentarily?

Leaving the Amazon Forest, I came to the next exhibit - the Giant Panda Forest.

I think the Pandas had just woken up so they were not in the best of mood. Isn't that the same with us humans? I decided to come back again in a while when they are feeling less grouchy. In the meantime, I went to Mama Panda Kitchen to get my complimentary birthday ice cream. Isn't it nice of WRS to grant free entry and ice cream?

My favorite Walls Paddle Pop Rainbow ice cream since childhood!

So... yes. I succumbed to a 600ml bottled water for $2

It was almost time for the Zoo's animal shows so I left River Safari for the Zoo next door. Do let the staff know if you are coming back so they could stamp a chop on your arm for re-entry).

I love animal shows! What about you?

After finishing the three shows back to back, it was already noon so I break for lunch. Lunch was fried rice brought from home.

It is the best fried rice in the world because Mum woke up at 6am to fry it for me

After a satisfying meal, I went to collect my complimentary ice cream from Ah Meng Kitchen. Yes, you can collect one ice cream from each park once.

My coffee-something-vanilla ice cream

I wanted to enjoy my ice cream while watching Inuka at the Frozen Tundra but it was getting way too rowdy for comfort so I left after I am done with my dessert. I walked past the Treetops Trail where the False Gavial were swimming under the very bridge I was walking on when I heard someone shouting. It turns out to be the crocodile's feeding time and the keeper is calling out to them.

I only had a brief tour of the zoo and did not managed to see all the animals because I do not want to end up with a cramp at the end of the day like the previous year. 

Do not support the illegal wildlife trade because #YouBuyTheyDie

I returned to the River Safari to watch the Manatees but by this time, the place is already swarming with kids...

A video posted by @thedeadcockroach on

With all that noise, I had to flee to the Panda Forest.

It is my first time spending an entire day at the zoo from the time they opened at 8.30am till they closed for the day at 6pm however, my day is far from over.

This year, I decided to visit the Night Safari - the world's first nocturnal zoo - for the very first time even though they were officially opened 21 years ago in 1994.

My complimentary coconut Potong ice cream from Night Safari's Ulu Ulu Restaurant

There are four main things that you can do here:

1) Take the Night Tram
The night tram takes visitors on a 40 minutes ride around the nocturnal zoo. Your journey will be accompanied by an experienced guide giving live commentary about the animals that you are about to see. Most of the animals are almost within an arm's reach but you will repeatedly be reminded to keep your limbs to yourselves. Dangerous animals, on the other hand, are kept behind moats. 

The tram ride is included in the ticket price.

2) Watch the Creatures of the Night Show
Learn about the importance of the three "R"s from the small-clawed Otters, the Binturong with a keen sense of smell and Maggie the "disappearing" snake. The amphitheatre is almost half the size of the one from the Zoo so be there early to get a seat.

3) Watch the Thumbuakar Performance
Be enthralled by the fantastic performance of the fire-breathing "tribesmen" that is sure to take your breathe away. Again, arrive early to get a good spot.

4) Walking Trails
There are four walking trails to explore on foot with each trail lasting about 20 minutes which is not accessible by the tram route. They are:
- Fishing Cat Trail
- Leopard Trail
- Wallaby Trail
- East Lodge Trail

I initially wanted to watch the 6.45pm Thumbuakar Performance but changed my mind when I saw the queue at the tram station getting longer. I decided to join the queue for the tram instead of watching the show. There are two reasons for this decision: isn't it better to see the animals while there is still lights; and to watch a fire-breathing show after dark?

The queue is horrendously long but the moment the tram ride begins, the queue starts to move very fast. I guess that's because a tram can sit many people at one go and once a tram fills up, another one comes along to pick up the next group of visitors.

Indeed, for the first few minutes, there are still some daylight left to see the animals but very soon, there was barely any visible lights left. I was able to film the beginning of the ride but I gave up after we were plunged into darkness... like this.

I totally gave up taking any more videos and just sit back to enjoy the rest of my ride. Being a nocturnal zoo, the lighting is made to resemble that of the moonlight so there is just enough light to see the animals. As excessive lights might agitate or even blind the animals, flash photography is strictly prohibited. Hence, taking photos and videos would be a challenge due to the low light conditions.

Being on a Safari tram ride for the first time, the feeling is quite thrilling but I feel that people with night blindness or astigmatism (me!) will find it a little difficult to see in the dark. Also, the tram moved off quite fast so we could not really observe the animals in details.

We returned to the tram station after 40 minutes and I was just in time for the 8pm Thumbuakar Performance. I even have time to visit the loo before the show starts.

After the exciting fire-breathing show, I quickened my pace to the Amphitheatre for the 8.30pm "Creatures of the Night" show. You have to hurry as the amphitheatre is very small. Once the seats filled up, you may have to wait for the next show (and they only have three shows per night). Before the show begins, the host used four different languages to advise the audience from using their camera flash which I feel is very impressive.

Show Venue Show Times
Thumbuakar Performance Entrance Courtyard 6.45pm, 8pm, 9pm, 10pm*
Creatures of the Night Show Amphitheatre 7.30pm, 8.30pm, 9.30pm, 10.30pm*
*Only on Fridays, Saturdays and Eve of Public Holidays

In summary, my recommendation is as follows:

1) Skip the first show (6.45pm) of the Thumbuakar Performance (11 min) and go queue for the first tram ride. Do not bother about taking photos or video. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
2) The tram ride (40 min) will return to the station and you will be just in time for the second show (8pm) of the Thumbuakar Performance.
3) Head to the Amphitheatre for the 8.30pm "Creatures of the Night Show" show (20 min).
4) You now have the rest of the night (Night Safari closes at midnight) to explore the walking trails!

As I have spent the entire day at the Singapore Zoo and River Safari earlier, I am too tired for the Walking Trails. Maybe I'll leave that for next year!

80 Mandai Lake Road
Singapore 729826
Opening Hours: 8.30 - 6 pm daily
Telephone: 6269 3411
Website: http://www.zoo.com.sg
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wrs.sg

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