My children absolutely loved Singapore zoo – my daughter is a massive animal supporter and was thoroughly impressed with the way the animals were kept and with the level of education provided. They boast over 40 animal feeding sessions so there are lots of opportunities to join the feeding programmes or to see shows that not only show off the animals but give strong messages about the state of the world’s endangered animals and how we can all do our bit – even down to a lesson in recycling given by a team of otters! To our delight, we discovered that you can have breakfast with the Orang Utan’s or watch the elephants at work and play and our favourite thing to do was to feed the white rhinoceruses with slices of melon.

Like many people, we had our concerns about whether animals should be contained in zoo’s at all – but frankly when you look at the survival rates in the wild of some of our remaining animals – the elephant, lion, tiger, rhinoceros to name but a few, the role that certain zoos are playing in terms of educating people about the severity of the problem and about what they can do to help is crucial.  No more so than the zoo we went to in Singapore. Arguably the best zoo in the world. It has a constant stream of animal experts coming to learn from their skills and the fact that it is an “open” zoo makes the enjoyment for both the animals and the viewers so much more acceptable. The animals are in a far more natural environment, being separated by moats rather than by cages and glass for the most part. There is wooded land surrounding the zoo and it’s built on the waters of a reservoir giving it an even greater feeling of unrestricted natural space and openness. Their conservation programme is second to none.  You will experience a total ecological adventure with over 2,800 animals inhabiting an area surrounded by lush rainforest.

The zoo is very clearly divided into two separate enclosures. The Night Safari and then the Zoo and River Safari so it’s worth spreading it out over several days to get the full enjoyment and not feel too tired – there is a lot to cover!

Below is our photographic journey through each different experience.


us at night safari with kids:elephants

We loved the night safari.  Firstly we saw the “Thumbuakar” fire show – human torches performing amazing fire-eating stunts (definitely not to be tried at home), which has to be seen to be believed and then we went to watch a very entertaining show called “Creatures of The Night Show” – 20 minutes of non stop action including animals that may appear under your seat or above your head at any moment. My son was thrilled to be invited up on stage to hold a python.  Otters, binturongs, raccoons, wolves, hyenas and even a leopard amazed us with their skills.

Here is my son with the snake!  Trying not to look scared:-

H with snake 1

H with the snake

With more than 2,500 nocturnal creatures to see via an open sided tram that takes you on a forty minute adventure through seven of the world’s geographical regions you get to see lions, elephants, tapirs and much more.

Additionally there are four different walking trails – each take around 20 minutes, again giving you a wonderful view of these amazing animals by moonlight.  You can go on the Fishing Cat trail, The Leopard Trail, The East Lodge Trail or the Wallaby Trail and you can also watch the lions and tigers being fed.


We did the River Safari and the Zoo in the same day as mentioned above.  First you get taken through the rivers of the world including the Mississippi River, the Mekong River and the Nile, Ganges, Congo and Yangtze River.

The spatula-snouted Mississippi paddlefish:-

River safari open mouth fish 1

River safari open mouth fish

Alligator gar, a prehistoric looking river animal that has been around for a 100 million years!!

River safari croc

Then we watched an animal show – this one is enjoying his bit of carrot:-

River safari animal show - iguana

River safari animal show

Then you wander through the Giant Panda Forest which was a massive highlight for us as I’d never seen a panda in the flesh before.  We observed Kai Kai and Jia Jia the two giant panda’s as well as the very cute red panda:-

The little red panda:-

River safari - bear with tongue

The incredible giant pandas which seemed to move about more than I expected them to – perhaps we just got lucky:-

river safari panda walking

River safari panda smiling

River safari panda eating

River safari panda 1

The Amazon River Quest is worth it just to feel as if you are in the Amazon rainforest.  Keep your eyes peeled for jaguars, tapir’s and the naughty little squirrel monkey’s in the Squirrel Monkey Forest who stole rather a lot of our belongings before a ranger had to come and get them back!

Amazon river quest

river cruise monkey close up

River quest monkey 2

river quest monkey 1

They also have the world’s largest freshwater aquarium where you can watch the extraordinary manatee being fed and giant river otters as well as piranhas!


A lovely relaxing river boat cruise along the Upper Seletar Reservoir, spotting the Asian elephants en route:-

river safari elephant

River safari on the boat

Right at the end, you can view the polar bear from underwater, prior to entering the zoo to see him from above!

River safari polar under water 1

River safari polar under water

THE SINGAPORE ZOO (the day bit)

Their star attractions include elephants of Asia, baboons from Ethiopia, free ranging orang Utans, a reptile garden, a Fragile Forest and an Australian Outback.  In addition, Singapore Zoo is the first zoo in the world to breed a polar bear in the tropics. I understand there is some controversy about keeping “Inuka” there, given how polar bears like it to be somewhat colder than 35 degrees, but he seemed to be thriving.

The overall setting is unparalleled – just look at that view:-

zoo setting by the river

They have unlimited tram rides to get about if you don’t want to walk, although we managed the whole zoo by foot.

The Bengal White Tigers were my absolute favourites- I could have watched them playing together for hours:-

zoo white tigers apart

zoo white tiger home 1 & 2

zoo white tigers 1 & 2 open mouth

zoo white tigers 1 & 2 playing water

zoo white tiger 1 head

zoo white tigers 1 & 2 close

zoo white tigers fighting 1

zoo white tiger 1 & 2 apart

zoo white tigers 1

These rather large monitor lizards just strolled about the place which was a little disconcerting – you can also find them at the Botanical Gardens:-

zoo monitor lizard

The baboons again we watched for hours, doing what they do in their family units:-

zoo baboons

The small bear, just relaxing – waiting for his manicure:-

zoo small bear

The Orang Utan’s swing freely in the trees above you as you walk around:-

zoo organutangs

This big guy was in an enclosure – what a face!

zoo orangatan face

The Fragile Forest was an experience with things darting about all over the place. Giant fruit bats fought with lemurs for the food (you can see one behind the lemur bigging himself up to gain the food:-

zoo lemur

zoo - blue bird

Sitting ducks! ha ha:-zoo sitting ducks


Back to the main part of the zoo and to the larger animals:-

zoo giraffe

zoo lion

zoo polar bear

This was my children’s favourite bit – feeding the rhino’s! What an experience and one that none of us will ever forget and with any luck, everyone who comes will read all the information they provide about how near extinction the white rhino is and work on helping with conservation and building awareness:-

zoo white rhino feeding w: kids

zoo white rhino feeding

This post is written on behalf of Thomas Cook and the Singapore Tourism Board. All opinions are my own. Find out how you can Get Into Singapore by booking a trip with Thomas Cook here:-


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