When we registered for the Safari Zoo Run 6K Fun Run (race report here), we anticipated making a day of the trip. Admission to the Singapore Zoo was included in our race fee, and I had never actually been to the zoo, so I was super pumped. Thankfully, KMN’s work schedule played nicely, and he was able to take the day “off” to explore with me.
While the weather was cool (relatively speaking) and overcast for the morning’s run, by the time we cooled off and got changed, a steady rain was falling. No problem; we’d come prepared!
We whipped out our rain gear, and started exploring. I don’t want to bore you with every minute detail of the day, so I’ll confine myself to 10 of my favorite stops from our day at the zoo:
1. Probiscus Monkeys: One look at these guys, and suddenly, my “prominent” family nose didn’t seem quite so large… And the fingers on these monkeys are unreal: incredibly long, dexterous, and mesmerizing to watch.
2. Otters: Ever since our trip to the Osaka Aquarium last year, I’ve been fascinated by otters. They are incredibly playful, running/jumping/twisting/spinning all around their enclosure. They never seem to get tired of this. We watched two otters snuggle down for a snooze, while a third kept pulling extra branches/greenery into their sleeping area to cover them up. I have no idea what this means in otter-land, but it was pretty adorable to watch! We watched these rascals for at least 15 minutes, despite some of the day’s heaviest rain. FYI, though? Otters are smelly.
3. White Tigers: Very magestic…
4. Himadryas Baboons: We also watched these for a good long time. Some of the informational sign boards helped us identify the dominant male in the group, and at least one female in his harem (basically, she follows him around). We also watched a second male playing nearby. He got closer, and closer…sidling right up to the lady.
Me: Do you really think he’s going to?
KMN: Looks like it…
Sure enough (I swear this happened – I couldn’t possibly make this stuff up), his arm extended slowly, slowly, slowly…to her shoulders. The dominant male was distracted doing something else, and Male #2’s hand went lower, and lower…and sure enough, he copped a feel. Wow. Just WOW. That was actually rather creepy.
5. Pygmy Hippos: We entered and saw this sign:
“Hippo” and “ballerina” don’t seem like they belong in the same sentence, right? WRONG. These little hippos are denser than water, so they sink – but not very fast. They breathe air, but live mostly underwater, where they gently walk/bound from place to place. Their movements remind me of how astronauts move – weightlessly, purposefully, gently. They were pretty mesmerizing, and they really did look like ballerinas!
[Side note: Isn’t there some kids book about a hippo ballerina? Friends with kids, please help!]
6. Orangutans: I think Ah Meng started it all, but the Singapore Zoo has a very lively group of orangutans, and they live and play high in the trees in one section of the Zoo. They are not enclosed in any way, and roam freely in the treetops and on the ropes, bridges, and ladders provided by the zoo. We first spotted them during lunch, then got a closer look afterward. They move so easily and freely, hundreds of feet in the air. My palms were sweating just watching them! And there were a few infant/children orangutans, too. THEY were super-adorable, and moved almost as confidently as the adults!
7. Lunch: Our pre-race breakfast had been pretty early, so by about 2 PM, we were both ravenous. We stopped at the “Forest Lodge” for a snack, and were pleasantly surprised to get two huge bowls of noodles for just $13 SGD, total. Of course, this would have been cheaper at a hawker center – but we thought the price was fair, for such a large portion in the middle of a big tourist attraction.
8. African Penguins: There’s just something about water-loving creatures. I think the penguins are almost as much fun as the otters!
Also spotted in the penguin exhibit? Runner legs!
9. Zebras: First of all, this sign:
These guys were munching on some food right up close to the fence. I enjoyed the “up close” look at their coats – fun eye-play both close up, and at a distance. Somehow, they reminded me of myself: Not the most gorgeous or graceful, but a bit unusual, and proud of it – as well as strong and purposeful. Yes, folks, I went to the zoo and identified with the zebra. I’m not ashamed of it. But…well…moving on…
10. Giraffes: While I was delighted and surprised by many of the earlier exhibits, a visit to the giraffes was what I was most anticipating for this trip. We were fortunate to come by their enclosure just during snack time, and enjoyed watching a bunch of other tourists pay money to feed them a few pieces of carrots and celery.
Yes, their tongues are black. And really long. They stick the tongue out, wrap it around the carrot, and pull it into their mouths. That tongue is almost like an extra appendage!
And these big guys brought our day to a close. We had dinner plans, and figured we were probably due for a shower first. We’d only managed to cover slightly over half of the zoo, though – and definitely want to return. So, if anyone out there is looking to spend a day at the Singapore Zoo, I know a few people who’ll happily keep you company! [As long as you promise to stop by the Otters. And the Orangutans. And the Giraffes. And…hm. Well, maybe it’s better if we just go on our own, after all…]
Which one of these 10 would you want to hang out and watch for awhile?