The zoo invites visitors to look back on 50 years of unforgettable experiences with wildlife and commemorate the “ZOO-bilee” with new memories
Come 27 June 2023, Singapore Zoo will mark 50 monumental years of connecting people with wildlife, and its evolution as a zoological institution dedicated to animal care and conservation. The Golden ZOObilee festivities kick off in May with a lineup of activities to come.
Mike Barclay, Group CEO of Mandai Wildlife Group, said, “Kinship and community are the hallmarks of this Golden ZOObilee. We pay tribute to the generations who have looked after the animals under our care, the cohorts of dedicated staff who have worked hard to sustain this world-class zoological institution, and the millions of guests as well as generous donors who have enabled Singapore Zoo to go from strength to strength over the last 50 years.
Above all, Singapore Zoo brings us all closer to wildlife, serving as the best possible platform to celebrate the wonders of the natural world, to explain the threats faced by so many animals in the wild, and to share what we can all do to allow people and wildlife to thrive together. We would like to thank everyone for their unyielding support, and we will continue to reinvest funding and resources to improve our zoological parks, from education programmes to breeding programmes, and financing wildlife conservation work across the region.”
A Window to the Wild
The idea of a zoo near the Upper Seletar Reservoir was conceived in 1968. Subsequently, the pioneer team started from a clean slate to create a naturalistic zoo that also takes advantage of Singapore’s tropical environment. Singapore Zoo opened in 1973 and is now internationally well-known for its open-concept design. Amongst the immersive wildlife habitats that are most popular with guests are Fragile Forest where close to 50 species – from birds to mammals – freely roam the biodome, and the world’s first free-ranging Orangutan exhibit that opened in 2006.
The zoo also introduced glass-fronted galleries where guests can get up-close with carnivores like leopards or appreciate underwater viewing of aquatic animals like Sea Lions and Pygmy Hippos showing off their gracefulness in the watery realms. In more recent years, RepTopia was launched to bring guests into the curious world of the planet’s most threatened reptiles, amphibians and arthropods (animals without backbones).
Starting out with just 272 animals across 72 species five decades ago, Singapore Zoo today is home to more than 4,200 animals from over 300 species, of which 34 per cent are threatened. Animals that have made an indelible mark in the hearts and minds of Singaporeans include Ah Meng the Sumatran Orangutan, Inuka the first Polar Bear born in the tropics and Omar the White Tiger.
In the zoo’s storied history, it has seen significant births such as the endangered Komodo Dragon in 2009. Singapore Zoo was the first zoo in Asia, outside of the species’ native home of Indonesia, to successfully breed it. Other important new additions included a pair of Crocodile Monitors in 2019, particularly special as they were the world’s very first second-generation Crocodile Monitors to hatch under human care. Going further back in time, Singapore Zoo celebrated its first Orangutan birth in 1975, slightly more than two years after the zoo opened. It was rare for the species to have progenies under human care, and since then the zoo has had more than 44 Orangutan babies.
Wildlife Care, Conservation and Education continue to be the core tenets of Singapore Zoo. Over the past decades, Singapore Zoo has made significant strides in these fields. The zoo is an accredited member of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) and the Zoo and Aquarium Association of Australia (ZAA), as well as a member of the Southeast Asia Zoo Association (SEAZA) and the World Association of Zoos and Aquaria (WAZA).
It currently participates in 58 internationally managed ex-situ breeding programmes for species like the Bornean and Sumatran Orangutans (whose populations are managed regionally by the zoo), Red Ruffed Lemur and Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo, contributing to the conservation of species through breeding, research and education. It is also home to five insurance colonies for threatened species including the Burmese Roofed Turtle and Small Cigar Stick Insect.
Insurance populations safeguard threatened species against extinction under human care to increase the chances of the species’ survival in the long term while the threats in their habitats are dealt with. In addition, Singapore Zoo has one of the largest ex-situ populations of Southeast Asian Chelonians (Turtles and Tortoises) as well as the largest and most successful breeding colonies for Proboscis Monkeys and Red-shanked Douc Langurs outside of their native range.
The zoo regularly engages people from all walks of life through conservation and sustainability education, such as via school programmes to inspire a love for wildlife through outdoor experiential learning. Besides partnering schools on multi-disciplinary learning journeys where Singapore Zoo serves as a living classroom, it has also made its way into story books as curriculum-recommended reading resources.
Celebrating 50 Years With a Zoo-per Fun Line-up
As one of Singapore’s oldest wildlife parks, Singapore Zoo has welcomed close to 60 million visitors over the last five decades, many of whom have made precious memories at the zoo. This Golden ZOObilee, join in the celebrations of this beloved national icon and discover its wildlife wonders anew.
ART-ZOO Happy ZOObilee runs from 27 May to 27 August 2023. Eight bespoke animal sculptures have been created especially for this commemorative edition. It will be hard to miss the larger-than-life inflatables and 2D sculptures of Jubilee the Rothschild’s Giraffe, Astove the Aldabra Giant Tortoise, Komali the Asian Elephant, Minah and Bubu the Pygmy Hippos, Bunny the Linne’s Two-toed Sloth, Izara the Grevy’s Zebra, Hoepel the White Rhino, and Ah Meng the Sumatran Orangutan. Besides snapping photos along the Instagrammable Happy ZOObilee trail, children can interact with tactile play elements to get the inside scoop on their favourite animals. End the trail at the 21-metre-long inflatable art playground, with other fringe activities including animal interaction sessions and craft workshops.
Pick up the pace with the Mandai Wildlife Run which will take place on 23 and 24 September 2023. Previously known as the Safari Zoo Run which started in 2009 in memory of Ah Meng, the event makes a return after a 3-year hiatus, providing the unique opportunity for participants to run in Singapore Zoo, River Wonders and Night Safari while taking in the sights and sounds of nature. There will be something for everyone with all-new race categories for seniors, as well as health and wellness activities,
sustainability-themed workshops and up-close animal interactions. Every sign-up comes with Conservation Included, where a portion of proceeds goes towards supporting conservation projects locally and in the region. Registration starts on 27 June 2023.
Singapore Zoo will be launching Backstage Pass – Incredible Invertebrates on 6 August 2023. This new tour will take participants behind the scenes of Fragile Forest to discover the role of insects in our ecosystem. Hear all about the fascinating invertebrates which make up 95 percent of the animal kingdom, and get hands-on with activities such as identifying butterfly eggs and releasing newly-unfurled beauties into the Butterfly Aviary. Guests can book this Backstage Pass from 6 July 2023.
In the meantime, keep a lookout for the Zoo Adventure Tour: ZOObilee edition from 27 June to 27 August 2023. The private buggy tour will incorporate key highlights of the zoo’s history, on top of animal interaction and feeding sessions. Guests can explore the park with their specially curated handbook. Tour bookings open on 27 May 2023.
Also, check out the 2-day Wild Explorer Camp from 1 to 2 June and 8 to 9 June 2023 for young ones aged six to 10 years. Parents can sign their children up for a fun-filled wildlife experience at Singapore Zoo and River Wonders during the holidays, where they will get to embark on guided tours and meet animal ambassadors.