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Singapore Zoo Night Safari

Updated on October 8, 2010

The Singapore Night Safari is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Singapore. It is located right next door to the Singapore Zoo who own and operate it albeit as a separate entity.

The idea of the 40 hectare 'Safari' was concieved in the 1980s and after much planning and work first opened its doors in 1994 and has never waned in popularity since. The Night Safari was apparently the worlds first nocturnal zoo, a claim to fame I once heard disputed but can't remember where. It matters little because they are certainly not alone today. Practically every big Asian zoo now has a 'night' section to it. Having seen several Singapore is definitely the leader in the field.



This is one of a series of zoo reports that was actually included within my travel journal ‘The Itinerant ZooKeeper’. Initially I started to extract the zoo data but found the reading was diminished by it. So look on it as a zoo/travel article. The only major edits I have done is a little censoring and to remove the Casanova exploits.

Night Safari Show

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The Singapore Night Safari I was told gets far more visitors than the Singapore Zoo or the Jurong Bird Park. Without a doubt it is good and a very pleasant way to spend an evening in tropical Singapore but I thought there may be more to it than that.

I pondered. When I think about it around seven out of ten of my non zoo friends have visited the Night Safari when visiting Singapore but did not visit the zoo. Why? I believe it is as simple as a name. Most British people (and probably others) still have this mistaken belief that a 'Safari Park' is better than a 'Zoo'. When we, on the inside, know that this is not necessarily true. So if Singapore had started out by calling this place a 'Night-time Zoo' it would never have got nearly as many foreign (British) visitors as it did/has. It is undoubtedly a zoo in reality and goes against the commonly believed misconception of Safari equalling more available space and therefore "freedom" and Zoos being prisons through a mis-perceived lack of space.

Very cleverly the Night Safari forecourt opens an hour or so earlier than the Safari itself so everybody has chance of a meal and a show...or photo taking with some of the animals. Pseudo traditional dancers and fire eaters are not my cup of tea but the visitors were lapping it up. The food was good though and I enjoyed that.


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I took one and a half tram rides round the safari trail and a walk. I thought it was very good. It has now been imitated many times but never equalled. Singapore are definitely the experts at this. Very professional. The escorted bus/tram tours were excellent. The pace of the vehicles altered to fit in with whatever was seen. The girls who gave the spiel as we drove round spoke far better English than I do, well, better accented anyway, and only the odd slip into Singlish to give the game away. I thought the information given out was interesting, and for the most part factual though I did note two 'slips' where it was incorrect. Very enjoyable though and I would have been happy just to have listened to one girl all night (and just look at her really).

Using my 'Palm Civet Gauge' to assess the (and any Asian) collection then this tops anything I have seen. This was Palm Civet heaven. Big cage, lots of branches. I could not see that it needed any improvements. Though maybe that is the whole point here "I could not see"! I am sure if the 'night' in night safari hides a multitude of sins, particularly if not open to daytime scrutiny. I don't know about Singapore though because I didn't go round in the day. At night it was a beautiful and enjoyable experience. I only spotted electric fences a few times. The divisions were hidden and made things more 'real'. Sorry, I still don't like diurnal birds of prey presented at night. I believe it is unnecessary and potentially cruel, no matter how subtle the lighting. And the lighting here is good, they have got it off to a tee.

Singapore Night Safari

The Fishing cat exhibit was wonderful. I have seen these beautiful little animals held in a multitude of boring, un-enriched, or unsuitable enclosures. The one in Dusit Zoo immediately springs to mind. Until now my favourite for this species was that at Drayton Manor Park in the Midlands of England. Singapore beats that by a head.

There was a 'creatures of the night' show taking place at intervals but with one thing or another I didn't get to see this. Perhaps when I pass through Singapore in mid July.

I thought the night safari was very good indeed. It was a newish experience for me, and an enjoyable one. Some years ago someone said to me that the night safari alternated animals throughout the night. I saw no evidence of this, nor any necessity as far as I could make out. No, it is just clever management. There is evidence of a bit of visual trickery in the zoo though i.e. at the otters and pygmy hippos which have double sets of animals in apparently single enclosures.

It is sad that so many people make such a short stopover in Singapore. There is so much to see here. If you have only a night then the Night Safari should be on the agenda. But there again you must find time to squeeze in a few hours in a bar on Orchard Road.

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If you have enjoyed reading this article you should move onto the next, entitled ‘Ragunan Zoo‘ as soon as it is published. Or you could move back to Sentosa Island Underwater World if you missed it. Please also check out my blog Zoo News Digest.

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    • Peter Dickinson profile image

      Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia

      @A M Lehrer thanks for visiting.

    • A M Lehrer profile image

      A M Lehrer 6 years ago from Southern United States

      That's pretty cool! I had no idea such thing existed. So glad I came across this.

    • profile image

      Sarah 8 years ago

      I visited Singapore night safari on a 3 day stopover on the way back from Australia, I suppose as most of my zoo visits have been daytime ones. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it, the enclosures were fantastic and the scenery around the reservoir was beautiful, even at night! I'd certainly recommend it to anyone.

    • Peter Dickinson profile image

      Peter Dickinson 8 years ago from South East Asia

      Thanks dohn and Mountain Blossoms. Definitely something to do when you win the Lotto.

    • Mountain Blossoms profile image

      Marianne Kellow 8 years ago from SE Thailand

      Hi Peter, I'm enjoying reading all of your articles on Singapore, all are really excellent and inspiring us to go have a look.

    • dohn121 profile image

      dohn121 8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      I've not heard of a nocturnal zoo before, Peter. Although I do like the concept, spotting the animals featured at the Night Safari must not be easy. Thank you. Your compassion for all of these animals always shines in your articles.