To begin with, since we were visiting during the Chinese New Year, we arrived at the zoo in time to see the Lion Dance. (Which, before arriving, I thought would be actual lions dancing. Yeah . . . I guess that was pretty naive of me . . . ) But, what we saw was far better than actual lions! Behold, the lion dancers:
Two guys in each costume make up the lions. But not just two ORDINARY guys. I'm talking acrobatic Cirque-du-Soleil, crazy strong type guys. These guys were insane. And the show they put on was unbelievable. They danced around on the ground for a minute or two, and then it really got interesting. One of the lions got up on its hind legs (in other words, the guy in back held the guy in front on his shoulders) and catapulted itself up onto the stilts. Then, they continued to dance around and jump from stilt to stilt all while keeping in time with the music and keeping in character. Each time they hopped from one stilt to another, the guy in the back had to throw the other guy and jump at the same time, and then they both would land perfectly atop the stilts. I would've paid good money to see these guys perform, but here they were, outside the front of the zoo just being completely amazing for free! It was awesome. And, a perfect start to our day at the best zoo in the world.
As if the lion dance wasn't a great enough intro to the Singapore Zoo, right as we walked in, monkeys were literally swinging around us and right above our heads! The entire zoo is very natural and jungle-like; it's as if you've entered into the animals' natural habitat. Heavily vegetated, there are monkeys literally on the loose just swinging around all over the place. It was so fun to watch them right above us as we'd walk down the pathways. I really thought I had some better pictures of these guys, but can't seem to find them. Anyway, in the picture below, if you look carefully, you can see a monkey high up in the trees.
This was also the first time I'd ever been to a zoo with an active rhinoceroses. And, by that, I mean that one of these guys had just RUN full speed across its area (I have no idea what to call the place in which it lives. "Area" doesn't seem quite right . . . ) right before we snapped this picture. When was the last time you saw a rhino at the zoo doing anything other than standing completely still or laying in a corner, facing exactly opposite of all of its on-lookers???
Baboons, a white tiger, pygmy hippos, flamingos, elephants, ponies, you name it, this zoo had it!
But, my favorite attraction in the entire zoo was the bat house!!!! What's a bat house??? Let me describe it for you . . . You walk into this net-covered jungle room where butterflies are aplenty--just fluttering around at their leisure; wild blue turkeys (I have no idea what they are actually called) run around the bushes and stare at you with their clear and somewhat-creepy eyes; lemurs are on the loose, literally cutting you off on the paths (I almost tripped on one going down some stairs because it ran right in front of me!); and, then there are the bats. I am not sure why our family has become somewhat obsessed with bats, but we are. Will has a set of National Geographic easy reader books, and one of them is all about bats. He is quite infatuated with them, and as such, we have read that book many times over, so I felt quite equipped with my grade-school knowledge of bats upon entering the bat house :) But, anyway, back to the bat house. There were a few different species of bats flying around, one of which was the flying fox. And, to our delight, one of these guys flew right over our heads right after we walked in the room. It was huge and so awesome to see up close. Also throughout the room were branches with fruit hanging on them for the bats to feed off of, and so we were able to see bats chowing down on watermelon literally right in front of our eyes. It was an unforgettable experience.
In addition to the bats, the free-swinging monkeys, and the numerous other animals at the zoo, there was also a splash pad. So, we, of course, had to make our way over in order for our kids to go crazy and cool off. All in all, the Singapore Zoo totally won for the being the best place ever.
That pretty much caps off our time in Singapore . . . we also visited Sentosa, but we only had time for the Port of Lost Wonder (another splash pad place). If we ever find ourselves in Singapore again, I'd definitely like to check out more of what Sentosa has to offer; it looked like a really fun place to visit. And, to finish off our time in Singapore, we were able to eat some delicious Mexican food! We went to Margarita's on Dempsey Hill, which was a welcome change and a taste of home since we don't get much Mexican food in Japan :)
Singapore is such a beautiful and clean country! It was really fun to experience so many different areas and especially to have spent Chinese New Year there, which was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I doubt that visit will be our last to Singapore, but if it is, I'm just happy that we were able to go to their zoo ;)