Night Safari, Singapore
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|Date opened||26 May 1994|
|Location||Mandai, Singapore |
80 Mandai Lake Road, Singapore 729826
|Land area||40 ha (99 acres)|
|No. of animals||1,040|
|No. of species||120|
|Annual visitors||1.3 million|
The concept of a nocturnal park in Singapore was suggested in the 1980s by the former executive chairman of the Singapore Zoo, Dr Ong Swee Law. Constructed at a cost of S$63 million, the Night Safari was officially opened on 26 May 1994 and occupies 35 hectares (86 acres) of secondary rainforest adjacent to the Singapore Zoo and Upper Seletar Reservoir.
The Night Safari currently houses over 900 animals representing over 100 species, of which 41% are threatened species. The Night Safari is managed by Wildlife Reserves Singapore, and about 1.3 million visitors visit the safari per year. The Night Safari received its 11 millionth visitor on 29 May 2007.
The tram safari is the most popular attraction at the Singapore Night safari, and is a 40 minute drive through six geographical zones representing more than 50 species of animals. The geographical zones replicate a variety of habitats, ranging from the Himalayan foothills to Asian riverine forest. The drive thru has many free range habitats. Cattle grids are laid before and after the free ranging drive-thru habitats to prevent the animals from escaping. These are the six geographical zones:
The himalayan foothills exhibits wildlife inhabiting the mountainous terrain of the Himalayas and replicates the natural habitats using rugged terrain, rocky outcrops, hillside enclosures and waterfalls. There are hillside enclosures for Bharals, Himalayan tahr, Markhor and Mouflon.
The tram descends from the himalayan foothills to the marshlands. The marshlands has a very large pond for a flock greater flamingoes. The flamingoes are one of the major highlights of the tram safari route. There is also a large pond for Asian small-clawed otters.
The next region replicates the diverse landscape of the Indian subcontinent. The Indian subcontinent zone begins with a drive-thru through the free-ranging Barasingha habitat. The barasingha share their habitat with Red-crowned crane. Then comes the exhibit for Striped hyena and the night safari's pride of Asiatic lions. At last is the sloth bear enclosure. Then arrives the East Lodge, visitors who wish to alight for the walking trails could leave and those who wish to continue the tram journey can remain seated.
The tram further moves to the plains of the African Savannah. Most of the star animals of the Night safari tram route are located in this zone. The first exhibit is a Savannah habitat for Ankole cattle and Scimitar horned oryx. The tram then drives through a pack of Spotted hyenas and African antelopes like Nyala and Bongos. There is also a large herd of Cape buffalo. The tram drives past the Nile hippopotamus exhibit. The spotted hyenas, hippos and Cape buffaloes are also a highlight of the tram safari route. Then there is an exhibit for a pair of White lions.
Asian riverine forest
The tram then moves into a heavily vegetated and lush rainforest habitat. This zone is located outside the night safari's main complex and replicates the rainforests of Malaysia. It begins with a herd of Babirusas. Then the tram enters a free ranging rainforest drive-thru for Malayan tapirs. The Asian riverine forest also has exhibits for a pack of Red dholes and Bornean bearded pig. Then comes the stars of the tram route, the herd of Asian elephants. The Night safari's herd consists of six individuals, three females, two adult males and one calf. 'Chawang', the 45-year old male elephant is the star attraction and mascot of the night safari. The tram then enters a drive-thru habitat for Malayan sambar deer.
Nepalese River valley
The next Nepalese River valley habitat has the most number of free ranging drive-thru habitats. The region begins with the exhibit for Greater Indian one-horned rhinoceros. Then there are drive-thru habitats for large herds of Hog deer, Indian sambar deer and Spotted deer.
Burmese River valley
Burmese River Valley is the last geographical zone of the tram safari route featuring the rare wildlife of the Burma region and the Malay peninsula. The exhibit features drive-thru habitats for a herd of Burmese Eld's deer and Javan banteng. Then there is large habitat for Malayan gaur or Seladang. The last exhibits are the glass fronted enclosure with a waterfall for Malayan tiger and a moated enclosure for Asian black bears.
The park is divided into four walking trails which can be accessed by foot and species of nocturnal animals which cannot be seen by the tram can be seen through the walking trails. Visitors can watch the nightly routine of nocturnal animals unfold.
Fishing cat trail
Fishing cat trail is the first walking trail. Most of the species in display at the Fishing cat trail are native to Singapore. The fishing cat trail is set in a dense primary rainforest. There are two moated exhibits for fishing cats which can be seen catching live fish in the stream of their enclosures. There is an interactive area called the Explorer's outpost where keeper chat sessions are held every night with Sunda pangolin and armadillos where visitors can interact with pangolins and armadillos and observe their behaviour . Common palm civet and Sunda pangolin share the same exhibit themed after a rustic Southeast Asian village or 'Kampung' House to show the civet as an urban species. There is also a very large pond for Indian gharial and a two-tiered exhibit for Asian small-clawed otters. A glass fronted exhibit houses Southern three-banded armadillos. Other animals along the fishing cat trail are Indian muntjac, Greater mouse-deer, Lesser mouse deer and Bengal slow loris. An interactive ranger station displaying information about wildlife native to Singapore is located near the explorer's outpost.
There is a large Marsh birds aviary along the fishing cat trail with full sized viewing windows displaying Roseate spoonbill, Nankeen night heron, Spotted whistling duck, Radjah shelduck, Great cormorant, Great pied cormorant, Malayan flying fox and White stork. There is another waterbird exhibit for Great white pelican, Milky stork, Painted stork Magpie goose, African comb duck and Bar-headed goose.
Leopard trail is the largest walking trail in the Night safari and exhibits wildlife indigenous to Southeast Asia. Leopard trail has the glass fronted display for Sri Lankan leopard. The leopards at the Night safari are managed under the European Endangered Species Programme, the leopard have been successfully bred and sent to zoos at different places for international breeding programmes under Wildlife Reserves Singapore. There are two exhibits for Clouded leopards and a mixed exhibit for binturong and Asian small-clawed otter. There are glass fronted enclosures for White bearded masked palm civet, small-toothed palm civet, Javan Slow Loris, Malayan porcupine, Indian crested porcupine, Northern Luzon giant cloud rat and other nocturnal animals. Besides, there are aviaries for Buffy fish owl, Spotted wood owl, Sunda scops owl and Spot-bellied eagle-owl.
Mangrove walk is a free flight, rainforest themed walk-thru habitat for Malayan flying fox and Lesser dog-faced fruit-bats. The bats are housed together with lesser whistling duck and yellow-wattled lapwing. Fruits are placed very close to the branches to attract the bats into view. Visitors can experience very close encounters with the bats, observe their behaviour and watch them fly past.
Flying squirrel walk-thru habitat
There is another very large walk-thru rainforest habitat for free flying squirrels. The walk thru is 10 metre high, heavily vegetated and lush, reminiscent of a primary rainforest habitat. Visitors can get up close to free flying Red and white giant flying squirrels, Indian giant flying squirrels and Red giant flying squirrels. The walk-thru also houses Indian spotted chevrotain. The walk-thru is one of the best attractions at the Night safari and is often hailed as one of the best exhibits of the world.
East Lodge trail
The East Lodge trail located along the East Lodge of the night safari is one of the most exciting walking trails. The theme of the trail is Africa-meets Asia and showcases the animals of the tropics of Southeast Asia and the savannahs of Africa side by side. Southeast Asian species like Malayan tiger, Babirusa, and Anoa live opposite African species like Spotted hyenas, Serval and Bongos.
The wallaby trail opened in 2013 to exhibit Australasian marsupial species from Australia, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand. The trail begins with the wallaby trail ranger Station displaying information about marsupials and Australian birds with stuffed specimens. The wallaby trail has another walk-thru habitat for wallabies. The wallaby walk-thru is lush and heavily planted and houses a large group of Bennett's wallaby and Parma wallaby. Feeding sessions are held daily at 9 pm when visitors can feed the free-ranging wallabies by hand and experience up-close encounters. Other marsupials on display are sugar gliders and brush-tailed possum, including a glass fronted exhibit for white-lipped python , Amethystine python and Carpet python. Aviaries for Morepork, Southern boobooks, Tawny frogmouth and Barn owls are also located along the wallaby trail.
The naracoorte cave is Singapore's first man-made cave and houses denizens of invertebrates through terrariums embedded in the walls of the cave. The cave is full of stalactites and stalagmites, and cascading limestone walls. The cave also has a wild bats chamber which is full of wild bat's. The cave also has a waterfall and an articial explorer's camp and various interactive displays. There are terrariums for Blind cave fish, Borneo River toad, Cave racer, Madagascar hissing cockroach, Leopard gecko, Tokay gecko, Giant centipede, Straight-horned baboon tarantula, Mexican redknee tarantula, Tooth cave spider, Asian black forest scorpions and many invertebrates on exhibit.
Unlike traditional nocturnal houses, which reverse the day-night cycle of animals so they will be active by day, the Night Safari is an entire open-air zoo set in a humid tropical forest that is only open at night. It is divided into seven geographical zones, which can be explored either on foot via four walking trails, or by tram.
The animals of the Night Safari, ranging from chital deer and gaur to Indian rhinoceros and pangolins to tarsiers and Asian elephants, are made visible by lighting that resembles moonlight. Although it is brighter than full moonlight by a few orders of magnitude, it is dim enough not to disturb nocturnal and crepuscular animals' behaviour. London based lighting designer Simon Corder created the lighting for Night Safari.
The naturalistic enclosures simulate the animals' native habitat. Animals are separated from visitors with natural barriers, rather than caged, similar to the Singapore Zoo's open concept. Instead of vertical prison-like cages, cattle grids were laid all over the park to prevent hoofed animals from moving one habitat to another. These are grille-like metal sheets with gaps wide enough for animals' legs to go through. Moats were designed to look like streams and rivers to enable fishing cats and servals to be put on show in open areas, and hot wires were designed to look like twigs to keep animals away from the boundaries of their enclosures.
Cultural performances are a regular feature at the safari, and include tribal dances, blowpipe demonstrations and fire eating displays. Creatures of the Night Show is a performance presented by the animals in the Night Safari.
Food and beverage outlets in the Night Safari include Ulu Ulu Safari Restaurant, Bongo Burgers, and Casa Italia. Visitors can dine in the "Evening in the Wild" at Night Safari's only Tepee Tent. Also experience dining on the move with the Cocktail Safari Express and Gourmet Safari Express.
- ASEAN Tourism Association — Aseanta Awards For Excellence (1995)
- Best New Attraction in ASEAN
- Singapore Tourism Awards
- Top 10 Best Family Experience (2006)
- Best Leisure Attraction Experience (2003, 2004, 2006)
- Leisure Attraction of the Year (1996, 1997, 1999, 2000)
- Best Trail Marshall of the Year, Mohammed Munzir Aziz. (2008)
- Best Trail Marshall of the Year, Mohammad Ridhwan Shahril. (2009)
- Best Ground crew of the Year, Vijayeswaran Visvalingam. (2009)
- Best Animal Caretaker of the Year, Hadi Akmal (2015)
- Lin Xinyi, "Night Safari: From trailblazer to tourism icon", The Straits Times, 31 May 2007
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