Thursday, 7 October 2010

A Wild Night Out

A recent issue of Hong Kong Time Out was dedicated to the rivalry between Hong Kong and Singapore. And in it, the magazine talks about certain spots you should hit when visiting Singapore. One of them was the Night Safari at the Singapore Zoo so we checked it out.
You can book tickets online but this has to be at least 48 hours in advance. We weren't that organized so after dinner we headed there around 9pm. And we were so surprised to see how many people were there! Crowds of mostly tourists, but a good number of locals too, wandering around the entrance and taking in some free shows that included men wearing loin cloths and eating fire.
It turns out there is a Night Safari tram tour, and the other you could wander around the zoo, but best to complete the walk before 11pm; presumably then onwards staff go out to find lost visitors. The tram tour was a bit more expensive than we expected, S$40 each, but we figured it would be good fun.
Friendly staff showed us the way to the trams that were battery powered and as soon as it started an evil-sounding male voice (or at least trying to sound evil), tried to forewarn us of a scary ride. As we rode along, he would narrate facts, saying on the left or the right what animals we would see. And each of them had the theme of how these animals could kill us. For example, the hippopotamus is some 2,000kg, so if it sat on us, it would kill us. Or the spotted hyena could run 3km an hour and would kill us by biting at our heels and then eating us.

A creepy pumpkin rising out of the patch
We also saw flamingos, lions, a sloth bear, giraffes, tigers, water buffalo, bearded pigs and deer.

And because it's October, the zoo has a Halloween theme which was pretty creative. In the areas we didn't see animals, there were people dressed up as zombies, or the Chinese version of them, or people trying to scare us. What was funny was that you could hear the screams from people at the front of the tram so you knew what was coming. Only one of them was smart enough to start getting screams from the middle and then go back to the front to scare visitors.

At one point a guy with a fuzzy head and no eyes and holding what looked like a weapon, clanged it against the bars of the tram. A funny group of Singaporeans behind us invited the guy to have a seat, which of course he ignored. While these zombie-like people tried to scare us, we laughed instead. It was kitsch but fun.

There was also a "Chinese ghost wedding", where we saw a bride in red silk pyjamas with a white face and blood on her lips, a puppet theatre thing with the puppets looking like ghosts, and other characters trying to scare us.

The ride lasted over 30 mins and was lots of fun. Now I know my S$40 went to hiring all these extras to scare us and the "blood-stained" decorations along the route.

Getting the foot spa treatment courtesy of nibbling fish
Overall it was just so interesting seeing the zoo so busy in the evenings; perhaps it's mostly on the weekends, but still it's a great concept of opening up the zoo at night and creating some kind of theme around it. I wonder how many others zoos have thought of staying up after the sun goes down to drum up more revenue. And if you're hungry, there are food outlets to eat from, and even a "foot spa", where you can get your feet bitten by nibbling fish, which I did before in Beijing.

While most of the animals were tired and weren't very active in the evening, it was still pretty cool to see them close up in somewhat natural surroundings. Each area had a corporate sponsor -- and of course the tiger section was sponsored by -- Tiger Balm.

Singapore Zoo
80 Mandai Lake Road
(65) 6269 3411


  1. good idea. makes sense to fully utilize the zoo facilities. hope it remains open during other times not just for halloween alone.

  2. I've been there with my parents and ex boyfriend for a couple of times. We had great fun in there! Highly recommended! The only things that scared me were the bats!!!