Saturday, August 30, 2014

Singapore zoo, a jungle of people

Today visited Singapore zoo. It's a Saturday. At Woodlands bus interchange, bus number 926 was not operational except on Sunday and Public holiday (can't understand why not). We proceeded to wait at the taxi stand. It seemed that taxi drivers were selective with their patrons. Some didn't want to go to the zoo. At last, caught one taxi (thank goodness not all taxi drivers are bad apples).

At the zoo, all we saw was a flood of people. It seemed very lively. Our Singapore zoo was indeed popular. This was good. 

Once we entered, there were still plenty of people. At each station, there were plenty of people (with family and kids). It was good. However, I'm not sure if the animals enjoyed the flock of people. The White Tiger moved back and forth repeatedly looking at the mass of people. I'm not an expert in animal behaviour but I suspected that the animal was stressed (or intimidated by the sheer amount of two-legged creatures staring, clicking away cameras, and talking (we were like flock of birds perched on tree branches at late evening making loud noises before flying off to our nests). That's how I thought the animals must have felt.

Today seemed to be a family day. No wonder. That was why there were plenty of people today. Furthermore, it was near school holidays. Kids were seen playing happily with parents, grandparents, and siblings. I'm not sure if they appreciated the animals though, because some were obviously enjoying the greeneries, tracks, and stops, more than the animals. I know my kid was not at all interested to know what the animals were doing. She was more interested to move to the next stop and the next. The only stop she stuck to for the longest time was the kids' world Wet Play (see the Singapore zoo map). We had the tan to prove it. Talk about the Wet Play, the water was milky white in some places. There were indications of wear and tear everywhere, but that didn't stop the kids from having the best moment of their day at the zoo. My kid was so happy there she didn't want to leave the play afterwards.

We stopped at the Polar bear station. There was a single bear (similar to the white tiger; I heard that the other white tiger had to be euthanized because she was terminally ill. It was indeed sad for the other tiger). I'm not sure why there is only a single bear. It was swimming the whole day except during feeding time when it could be seen resting on an artificial platform made to look like a block of ice. I always thought that polar bear was completely white. This one was not completely white. The bear was brownish, with a tinge of green on the head. It's amazing how close we were with the polar bear. I felt sad that the bear couldn't have its natural habitat, but I felt amazed too that I could see a polar bear up close.

During our visit to the zoo, the one thing that surprises me was how unbelievably expensive a bottle of drink can be. For a bottle of isotonic drink (approximately 450 ml), it cost SGD 3.50. I wanted plain water but couldn't find one when I really needed it. I couldn't find any drinking water fountain nearby too. Probably it's somewhere in the zoo, but not easily found (unless if I ask someone who works there, but I didn't). The weather today was hot and humid as usual (sort of like in a sauna). Staying hydrated was surely a good idea (and a bottle of isotonic helped).

Our favourite hangouts would be the polar bear station where it's cooling and cozy. The igloo was fun.

The tram helped with the travel, especially with kids around. It would also be handy for expectant moms and the elderly. However, there were long queues at some stations, but luckily the flow was fast. The ticket for tram was SGD 5.00 per person (whereas kids below 3 years old are free).

The orangutans were spotted nearby Ah Meng restaurant. We were able to catch them during feeding time. A handler was using a long pole to extend/reach the edible leaves to the orangutans. I felt a little bad for the orangutan. They were completely reliant on men for food and shelter. I'm not sure how they felt, but I do know some people would be thinking, "why not? free food without breaking a sweat, that's the best lifestyle to be in". I hope these primates are used to the presence of men by now, so that they are more at ease with the noise and crowding.

The elephant ride tickets were sold out today. I am glad to see this happening. That would mean that the elephant handlers were being very sensitive and empathetic to the creature and their well being (thanks to the prudent management by Singapore Zoo and AVA). The tickets must have been capped at a specific number so as to prevent these creatures from over-exhaustion due to carrying too many people per day.

We visited fragile forest and spotted several mouse-deers, a variety of birds, insects, spiders, beetles, and butterflies.

During lunch time, finding a seat is a challenge. Food there is okay, the price is pricier, and thus we didn't get any drinks from the restaurant. The vending machine shows the same price for drinks, e.g. SGD 3.50. We should have gotten our bottle of water today.

The vending machine for pressed penny of Singapore zoo costs SGD 2.00. I wanted to get something as momento, and thus slipped in SGD 2.00 note, turned the wheel and waited for the coin. I couldn't believe how thin the coin was. It wasn't even a coin, it looked like a locket, but with sharp edges, and pointy print. A youtube video showing the pressed penny uploaded by someone; or you can just Google "Singapore zoo pressed penny" and jump to image to search for these coins. Some people are selling them at Ebay at higher value (I'm not sure I would be buying or selling these coins). I think it could be made of copper (not entirely sure, but the metal is bronze and pliable).

Today, it rained and drizzled. The air was cooling. The street was wet and some places are slippery. The roof to the polar bear pavilion was leaky. There wasn't sufficient sheltered walkway to escape the rain. There were plenty of visitors donning raincoat they bought from the Zoo with "Orang Utan" printed on them. These coats came with many colours and I would be getting one too if it was not for the umbrellas we remembered to bring along.

When it was time to go back, the bus stops were full of people queuing up. Bus number 138 came more frequent than 927. The difference could be five 138 buses to one 927 bus frequency. People queuing were friendly and didn't seem to be as agitated as commuters we have seen rushing to work and rushing back home after work during weekdays. Several considerate people were seen letting their seats to expectant moms and parents with newborn babies. Children were happy just to stand beside their parents holding on to bus poles during the journey home. Some kids were heard talking about how happy they were today. One kid was seen crying out loud just because he thought he didn't have sufficient time to play at the Zoo. A dad was seen cuddling and consoling him... 

It was still a happy trip to Singapore Zoo. There were still many places we didn't manage to cover. Probably next time.

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