WILD THINGS

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Published on March 22, 2015 with No Comments

Manatees at Amazon Flooded Forest.

Manatees at Amazon Flooded Forest.
Picture 1 of 8

The Singapore River Safari is also Asia’s first and only river-themed wildlife park.

Words JEFFREY LIM
Images WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

What began as a project to complement the offerings of the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari has now turned into one of Singapore’s most celebrated park attractions that highlight iconic river habitats of the world. River Safari goes beyond the ubiquitous aquarium exhibit. And this is where the visitor gains from a visit.

Occupying 12 hectares, River Safari houses one of the world’s largest collections of freshwater animals. The park is home to 400 plant species and over 6,000 animal specimens representing 200 species, of which 40 are threatened. One of the highlights of the park is the freshwater habitats from iconic rivers of the world such as the Amazon River, Mekong River and the River Nile.

Not only that, the park combines different modes of exploration to further immerse the visitor into the safari experience. Guests can stroll along freshwater aquariums, enter walk-through exhibits and embark on boat rides to learn about the fascinating flora and fauna of river habitats. While 85 percent of the park’s animal collection can be viewed on foot, the rest is seen on boat rides that truly drive home the majesty of river habitats and its residents.

For instance, on the 15-minute River Safari cruise along the Upper Seletar Reservoir, visitors can observe many native species such as the long-tailed macaque and water monitor lizard that thrive around the area. With the aid of a commentary, visitors will learn about the beautiful forest giants that surround the reservoir and the delicate freshwater habitats. The cruise meanders along the outskirts of Singapore Zoo and Night Safari, giving visitors a chance to spot wildlife nestled on the edges of these parks such as giraffes and rhinos. Bird watchers can keep their eyes peeled for an array of free-ranging feathered creatures, from storks to herons, which may make a stopover by the banks or roost on the trees.

The Amazon River Quest boat ride is a 10-minute cruise that meanders through a manmade river, bringing visitors up close to nearly 30 fascinating animal species that lie along the edges of the Amazon River. These include the jaguar, Brazilian tapir, capybara and giant anteater.

Not content with just seeing the animals from afar, visitors can take an up close look at the park’s residents through the thematic river zones. These showcase various aquatic and terrestrial animals via various galleries and walk-through exhibits. Crowning every guest’s visit has to be the centrepiece of the Amazon Flooded Forest. This large aquatic display of the South American rainforest shows how the area is submerged every year during the rainy season when the river rises 30 to
40 feet. Here, visitors can view a surreal world where manatees, arapaimas and
other creatures swim amongst giant trees. With a volume of 2,000m³ and a viewing window of 22 metres in length and 4 metres in height, it is the world’s largest freshwater aquarium designed to provide visitors with an immersive experience.

Other star attractions and unique exhibits include the Dwarf crocodile in the Congo River, the ferocious African tigerfish of the River Nile, the carnivorous goonch catfish from the Ganges River, the Mekong giant catfish in the Mekong River zone, and the mud dragon of the Yangtze River. Another highlight of the Yangtze River zone is the Giant Panda Forest, home to a pair of giant pandas (Kai Kai and Jia Jia), red pandas and golden pheasants. Visitors can walk along an elevated boardwalk in this biodome that simulates the bears’ natural habitat with lush plants, boulders and water features.

The park successfully recreates the sights and sounds of each river zone. Each exhibit has been designed to represent not only the animal collection, but also help visitors learn about the cultures and wildlife and inspire them to contribute to conservation efforts. Complementing this is a dynamic range of interactive in-park activities, such as enrichment programmes, interdisciplinary trails and workshops that enliven the learning experience to make learning about conservation an enthralling journey.

 

Royal Brunei Airlines flies Singapore double daily.

 

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