At the Night Zoo in Singapore
It is a very hot day today
with the sun beating down through slightly hazy skies. No real schedule planned for the day but we walk down to Marina Quay and across to SunTech City, which is a huge shopping and office complex comprising 5 towers and miles of underground shopping malls and boutiques. More shopping! We are amazed that the Singaporeans all have long pants and shirts on. We are dripping in shorts and t-shirts and are happy to stick to the air-conditioned underground. We stay in the underground mall all the way back to Raffles, and use the washrooms in the hotel lobby. This is the closest we will get to staying here. But despite the fact that we are obviously outsiders, everyone is friendly and helpful when we go in to check out the lobby – no attitude whatsoever. We grab a quick sandwich at DeliFrance, which hosts the wireless network we are using and eat as we update the web, then head back to the hotel for naps. Huge thunder boomers roll in and a spectacular thunder and lightning storm drenches the city for about an hour. Perched in our room on the 17th floor with a clear view over Fort Canning Park, we have front row seats for it.
The Night Zoo
Singapore lies just 1 degree (about 80 kilometres) north of the equator, and as a consequence has days and nights of equal duration all year long, about 7:30 for sunup, and 7:30 for sundown. The Singapore Zoo has taken advantage of this and has built a 2nd, separate zoo, right beside the regular zoo, that houses only nocturnal animals and that opens at 7:30 every evening. We have been planning on going each evening we have been here, but have been frustrated by the rains. Tonight is our last chance, and by 6:00 p.m., the rains have cleared, cooling the day off. We head off shortly after, by MRT and then bus. Who knew that Singapore was so big? It takes us about 1 ½ hours to get there, by which time we are cranky.
We start our walk and quickly become wide-eyed. The Singapore Zoo calls itself “the open zoo”, as it does not use cages to hold the animals, and this is carried over into the night zoo. We walk along, coming face-to-face with a rhino, red pandas, leopard cats, fishing cats. We get to the leopards, who are located behind a glass wall, and one of them walks back and forth rubbing against the glass. Everyone touches the glass, hoping somehow to feel its fur. We pass the hyenas, actively watching the humans walk by, and we know that except for the moat they would be happily chowing down. When we get to the lions they are alert and posing – unlike their daytime sprawled-out sleeping. The giraffes are amazing – wolfing down their dinners while watching us intently – afraid we may be interested in them for dinner? The bat house door has signs saying “don’t provoke the bats” and “if you fear bats, consider not entering” – we enter and the bats are right there, hanging from trees, stretching their wings and preening. Someone slightly taller than us would need to duck to avoid brushing top-of-head to top-of-head.
Finally we emerge back at the entrance, and make our way back home, glad the rain happened earlier today, glad that we have done this. Somehow, the ride back to central Singapore goes faster as we talk about the things we’ve just seen.