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Singapore Zoo : Into The Wild

I can’t remember the last time I went to the zoo.  Most of the places, a visit to the zoo is generally free, but not in Singapore. One of the lazy afternoons during weekends we decided to get close to the nature. Singapore Zoo is located in Mandai Lake.  Its a one stop shop to visit River Safari, Night Safari and Zoo.  I had already been to River Safari the other day.  I studied the map before starting my trek.  Singapore Zoo is split into zones like Wild Africa, Australian Zone, Reptile Garden and so on.  There are shows and token feeding at designated times where you can be up and close with the animals.  Of all the shows, Splash Safari is my favorite where the mischievous sea lion’s performances make you giggle and wonder at the same time.  I must admit that I had this misconception that visit to zoos are boring, but the moment I started venturing deeper and deeper into different zones and observed all the exotic animals, I was equally intrigued and engrossed.  Singapore Zoo is well maintained and spacious which makes it different from the rest of the zoos.  The animal shows are designed to educate the people with an entertaining presentation.  I am noting some interesting observations what I learnt in the zoo.

How does one identify whether its a Cheetah or a Leopard?

The main fact to spot the difference between the two is the texture of the spots on their body.  Cheetah has solid black dots on their body whereas leopards have cluster of black spots with a dark brown spot in the middle.

Other Facts: Leopards are bulky whereas Cheetah is more lankier.  Leopards can climb tress as they have retractile claws whereas Cheetah cannot.  Cheetah has two black lines below the eyes like a tear mark. They act as reflection absorbers during sunny days while they are hunting.

The Star of the Zoo – WHITE TIGERS

It is truly a marvel to watch this giant cat looking at you with his blue death stare eyes and pink nose. There are two white tigers in the zoo and one of them decided to go for a swim to entertain the visitors.  The white furred tiger has brown stripes which are like fingerprints, no two are the same.

FROZEN TUNDRA ZONE

Raccoon dogs do not bark but they growl in a manner which sound like the hiss of a cat.

Polar bears have actually black skin and colorless hair.  Their thick hollow hairs reflect light to give its white looking coat.  They are excellent swimmers and can swim around 6mph. They can smell their favorite food -seals  from almost 1 kilometer away. Though they look cuddly, they are the most ferocious and carnivorous land animals.

ELEPHANTS OF ASIA SHOW

Elephants of Asia show is the most popular show in the Singapore Zoo.  To get best seats for the performance event, you need to be there at least half an hour before the show starts.  I personally found this average when I compared this with Splash Safari.  The show starts with outlining basic facts about Asian Elephants.

 How do we Identify African Elephants and Asian Elephants?

FUN FACTS: Both Female and Male African Elephants have tusks but only the Male Asian Elephants have tusks.  An elephant’s skin is at least an inch thick.  They have poor eyesight but amazing sense of smell.  The Elephant is the only mammal which cannot jump!

PREDATORS – GHARIAL, CROCODILE & FALSE GHARIAL

When you walk on the tree tops trail, you notice False Gharial swimming in the swamps below. Crocodiles species always gives you an eerie feeling when you look at it or maybe I watched too many predator movies with them as villains 😀

Gharials have an elongated slender snout which makes them easily differentiated from Crocodiles. That is the very reason they got their name as Gharials.  The bulbous growth on the tip of the nose resembles Ghara (Indian name for Pot) .  When you refer to Gharials, they are normally Indian Gharials. False Gharials are Malayan Gharials found in the swamps of Malaysia and Indonesia.  The snout of a False Gharial is shorter and wider than the Indian Gharial.  The female False Gharial lays her eggs and then abandons the nest resulting in no parental care for the young ones. On the other hand female Indian Gharial lays her eggs and guards it till it hatches and also guards her young ones after they hatch.

KOALA MANIA

The cutest looking cuddly animal which is famously called Koala bear is not a bear.  With drunken sleepy eyes and big ears, it resembles a mickey mouse! The koala cub is blind when its born.  Koalas are nocturnal and they sleep for 19 hours! They thrive on eucalyptus leaves.

 STANDING TALL – GIRAFFE

There is absolutely no way that one can miss this long necked creature.  The entire Giraffe family stands and basks in the sun facing the lake. The baby giraffe stands close to her mom and keeps munching the shoots and leaves.  Even the babies are taller than average human height!  Just like human fingerprints no two giraffes have same spot pattern.  Although the giraffe’s neck appear longer, it has exactly the same number of bones as humans.

SPLASH SAFARI SHOW

If you sit on the first few rows, be ready to get wet as the mischievous sea lion splashes the water on the audience during the show.  I recorded few moments from the show. I loved this show and found it better than the Elephants of Asia.  The adorable sea lion flips, swims like a shark and also plays ball during the show.  When the guide praised about the beauty of the sea lion, it quickly blushed and hid its face like the way a human reacts 😀  As it has a reflective membrane at the back of the eye, they can quickly see underwater where the light may be scarce.

MONKEY BUSINESS

Orangutans:  Orangutan exhibit is one of the largest exhibits in Singapore Zoo.  They swing from one branch to other on the created platforms on the top.

Mandrill: Standing apart from the rest of the monkey species is the male Mandrill.  The very distinctive red color of its nose stand out and it gets even more brighter when it is excited. The male with the brightest red nose is chosen as the leader of the group.

CREEPY CRAWLING CREATURES – REPTILE KINGDOM

The reptile kingdom showcases komodo dragons also known as giant lizards and Iguanas.  They also have a snake house where one can find pit vipers, king cobra, reticulated python and many more varieties of poisonous snakes. Little further ahead are the Giant Tortoises.

ZEBRA 

All my life I thought that zebras have white body with black stripes.  But the truth is reverse, the main background is black and white stripes are developed on top of it.  Again like the Giraffe, each zebra’s stripes pattern is unique.

PENGUINS

Next to the sea lions, a group of cute looking flight less birds wearing tuxedo hopped silently on the piece of ice. They were none other than adorable penguins waiting for their master to feed them fish.  I spotted a couple holding hands and engrossed in an intense conversation.  They continuously stared up, not sure what they saw!

PYGMY HIPPO

I couldn’t grab a full photo of the hippo as it was reluctant to come out of the water.

LOCKING HORNS WITH THE RHINO

White Rhino which is actually grey in color is the largest land mammal after elephant. Though they have thick skin, they are very sensitive to sun burns and insect bites. The mud on their body acts as a protection against these.  Despite their ferocious demeanor, they are herbivores.

There were many more animals like Sun bear, otters, naked mole rat and so on. The list is exhaustive.  Its a long educational walk.  I enjoyed this trip and wished if only the entry to this zoo was free.

Copyright ©2016, Lakshmi Nair . This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.

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