Sunday, 17 November 2013

River Safari and the zoo

I woke early to accomplish my task for the day - the River Safari and the zoo.  I wasn't sure if I could do both in a day, but wanted to try as it's quite far away and didn't want to go back another time (though I will be doing the night safari, but I'll do that after work).  My lovely colleague had a spare river safari ticket, so I gladly accepted, saving me a tasty $25. I then bought the combined night safari and zoo package at $49, which is such a bargain (about £25) compared to London zoo prices!

Anyway - the journey was a bit of a mission, walked to MRT station, then the MRT to Ang Mo Kio, then a bus from there to the zoo - total journey was about an hour and a half.

I did the River Safari first seeing as I didn't pay for the ticket so didn't mind if I rushed through it (old habits die hard).  Unfortunately the main attraction - an actual river safari on a river isn't open until next year, but the place was still really good. It was very informative and featured exhibits from the worlds main rivers (Amazon, Yangtze, Mekong, Nile etc).  They had some absolutely huge fish, mahoosive alligators and lots of different types of turtles and tortoises.  It was really good though a lot of the time my view was obstructed by annoying little children getting in the way. I guess they get precedence but still...

huge croc

They also had several random non river related exhibits (the sceptical part of me thinks they weren't in the zoo to maximise ticket sales).  My favourite part was the Squirrel Monkey forest - this was brilliant.

You entered a large cage designed to look like a forest, and it was filled with squirrel monkeys.  They had no fear and were very inquisitive, so just walked up to you (no evil monkey grabbing like in Sri Lanka though thank goodness!).  They were absolutely adorable and I was so tempted to try and put one in my bag and take him home!

You could get so close to them and they didn't mind, they were just as interested in you as you were them.  Three boys started fighting in front of me so I stopped to take photos -they were just rolling around on the floor with each other.  I literally could have stayed there all day watching them.

Another unrelated section and also slightly disappointing was the Panda cage.  They had two pandas in an indoor enclosure, and everyone was meant to be quiet - but really, if you're letting in thousands of kids a day who are very excitable, how quiet do they expect it to be.  There were zoo staff going round shushing people but it wasn't really working.  One of the pandas looked really agitated and was just walking round in circles which made me feel sad.   Of course, me being inexperienced in animal behaviour, he could have been perfectly content, but he didn't have a lot of space so I did feel sorry for him.

After exploring every nook and cranny at a speedy pace, I then headed off to the zoo.  The zoo is very cleverly done.  Barely anything is in cages, instead there's big ditches separating you and the animals, so visibility is great.  Again space isn't great for the animals (the best zoo I have ever been to is Whipsnade, because the majority of animals there have loads of room to move about in - obviously not as much as in the wild, but still more than most zoos).  The zoo is huge, and has so many animals.  I spent a good 2.5 hours here and still missed a part of it (the Australian section, but I have seen ostriches and kangaroos before so wasn't too bothered),

It's me mum, Pumba!

Naked mole rat (this is a model, they were too quick to photograph) - I thought Becky would appreciate them!!!  apparently they are cancer resistant, immune to pain, can survive for 30 min with no oxygen and can live to 28 years old - super animals!

They have a polar bear - I think it's cruel to keep a polar bear in a country that's averaging 30 deg C a day.  He was quite spectacular though.  He was swimming in a circle around his fake iceberg, then coming up to the glass screen, doing a tumble turn and then pushing off from the side, to start his circle again.  It was incredible to watch him swimming up so close, though again because he was just going in aimless circles I felt very sorry for him.

For me the most incredible bit was the huge aquarium filled with Manatees (sea cows).  They are absolutely huge creatures that look a bit like seals, and they were mesmerising to watch.  I felt really relaxed watching them, they were so slow and graceful in the water.  Unfortunately at this point my camera battery died and the spare one I spent all night charging didn't seem to work, so had to swap to my phone camera.

My next favourite part was the Tropical Rainforest walk.  You walked into this tropical paradise filled with weird birds, parrots, ducks, fruit bats, butterflies, rats, mice - loads of different animals and birds.  You got to get very up close and personal with them - you could touch the birds if you were quick enough (though you probably weren't allowed).



I would recommend the zoo - it is less gimmickey and expensive and commericalised that most of the zoos I have been to, and it is very informative.  I am going to do the night safari one day this or next week, which I am looking forward to - just got to remember to charge my camera!

The rest of my afternoon was spent sleeping off a headache, quick swim, skype with Bex then dinner at a Persian restaurant - it was delicious.

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