80 Mandai Lake Road, Mandai, SingaporeGetting there
Metro: Ang Mo Kio, then bus 138Telephone
(+65) 6269 3411Email More information Prices
Adults S$18, children 3-12 S$12. Combination Zoo and Night Safari ticket: adults S$32, children S$20. Park Hopper Ticket for Zoo, Night Safari, and BirdPark: adults S$45, children S$28Opening hours
Daily: 8:30 am - 6:00 pm
The line between zoo and botanic oasis blurs at this pulse-slowing sweep of spacious, naturalistic enclosures, freely roaming animals and interactive attractions. Get up close to orangutans, dodge Malaysian flying foxes, even snoop around a replica African village. Then there's that setting: 26 soothing hectares on a lush peninsula jutting out into the waters of the Upper Seletar Reservoir.
There are over 2800 residents here, and as zoos go, the enclosures are among the world's most comfortable. Among the highlights is the Jungle Breakfast with Wildlife , a morning buffet enjoyed in the company of orang-utans. Come within inches of free-roaming ring-tailed lemurs, lories and tree-hugging sloths at the giant Fragile Forest biodome, or spy on shameless, red-bummed baboons doing things that Singaporeans still get arrested for at the evocative Great Rift Valley exhibit. If you have kids in tow, let them go wild at Rainforest Kidzworld, a wonderland of slides, swings, pulling boats, pony rides and farmyard animals happy for a feed. There's even a dedicated wet area, with swimwear available for purchase if you didn't bring your own.
They call themselves the Open Zoo because, rather than coop the animals in jailed enclosures, they let them roam freely in landscaped areas. Beasts of the world are kept where they are supposed to be using psychological restraints and physical barriers that are disguised behind waterfalls, vegetation, and moats. Some animals are grouped with other species to show them coexisting as they would in nature. For instance, the white rhinoceros is neighborly with the wildebeest and ostrich -- not that wildebeests and ostriches make the best company, but certainly contempt is better than boredom. Guinea and pea fowl, Emperor tamarinds, and other creatures are free-roaming and not shy; however, if you spot a water monitor or long-tailed macaque, know that they're not zoo residents -- just locals looking for a free meal. Major zoo features are the Primate Kingdom, Wild Africa, the Reptile Garden, and underwater views of polar bears, sea lions, and penguins.
Daily shows are themed around ecological issues and include "The Rainforest Fights Back," featuring 15 species, including orangutans, lemurs, otters, and birds at 10:30am and 1:30pm; sea lions, penguins, and pelicans at 11:30am, 2:30pm, and 5pm; and the elephants at 11:30am and 3:30pm. Witness the bond between animals and trainers at the Animal Friends show at 12:30pm and 4:30pm. You can take your photograph with an orangutan, chimpanzee, or snake, and there are elephant and camel rides, too. The new Rainforest Kidzworld area is phenomenal: part water park, part adventure playground, and part petting zoo.
Zoo literature includes half-day and full-day agendas to help make the most of your visit. The best time to arrive, however, is at 9am, to have breakfast with an orangutan, which feasts on fruits and puts on a hilarious and very memorable show. If you miss that, you can also have tea with it at 4pm. Another good time to go is just after a rain, when the animals cool off and get frisky. See also the Night Safari listing, above.
The zoo ceased offering elephant rides in 2014. However, elephant and other animal shows, which are frowned upon by animal-welfare experts, are held here.