W1702 – Going ape for breakfast

In my last two posts,  W1702 – Bullock water-cart and W1702 – Supertrees and Domes, I described my second day in Singapore, when Carol and I visited Chinatown in the morning, and Gardens by the Bay in the late afternoon and early evening.

On our third and final day in Singapore Carol was busy with her Aunt Annie, so I had booked a shore tour on my own. The tour was to visit Singapore Zoo, and included having breakfast with some Orangutans.

Singapore Zoo, which opened in 1973, occupies 28 hectares in Singapore’s heavily forested central catchment area, where water for the city is captured and held in several reservoirs. The zoo houses some 315 species, around 16% of which are considered to be threatened.

Regular readers might remember from my post D1602 – Even a Canary?  about my visit to Tenerife Zoo that I have a very uneasy relationship with zoos, and only consider visiting them when they are of the type that hold animals in larger areas constrained by wet or dry moats, or glass when essential, rather than the old fashioned small concrete boxes with metal bars. Where I really get unhappy are when the animals are made to put on unnatural shows just for the entertainment of the public and/or to milk more money from the public. I was therefore unsure when I booked this tour, but decided to give it a go as it did give a chance for me to see and photograph iconic animals such as the orangutans – Singapore Zoo does have the largest captive colony of orangutans in the world.

Those same regular readers may remember that in Auckland, New Zealand, Carol and I did a shore tour to visit an island nature reserve, and that it absolutely poured with rain the whole day, soaking us to the skin – see W1702 – Wet, wet, wet. I was therefore nervous about doing another tour to see wildlife, and my fears were justified as sure enough it was pouring with rain again that morning.

It took around 45 minutes on the coach to drive to the zoo. Fortunately there was a covered walkway from the coach drop-off point to the main entrance, where we waited while our guide collected our tickets and arm-bands. The latter gave us unlimited use of the land-trains running around the site, as well as entry to the breakfast with the orangutans.

Entering the zoo our guide led us directly to the large café where a buffet style breakfast was being served. We had a number of tables at one end of the café, but there were loads more tables, many occupied by other members of the general public. To one side of where we sat was a wooden crossbar, and after a while two adult female orangutans and an infant were brought out to this crossbar, and constantly bribed with food. The audience where then encouraged to queue up to have their picture taken by a zoo photographer sanding right in front of the orangutans – this is obviously aimed at the ‘selfie’ generation for whom nothing can happen or be photographed unless they are the focus of attention, but this was of no interest to me. I was just interested in seeing and photographing the animals close to, but the careful layout of the room and strategically placed zoo staff made this very difficult. It was clearly what I hate, a cynical use of animals to extract more money from visitors – in this case twice over, they paid extra to have the breakfast opportunity, and extra again to have their ‘selfie’ style picture.

These are the best of the photographs of the orangutans I did manage to get:


Our guide had told us about two more animal shows we could go and see during our time at the zoo, and I just made a note to avoid those places and times. We then had around 2.5 hours to explore the zoo on our own.

The rain was still pouring down, which it did for almost the whole time of our stay at the zoo. This made seeing then animals very difficult as they were mostly sheltering as best they could from the rain themselves. Photography was also very difficult, trying not to get my camera too wet, and with the lens tending to gather water drops and/or steam up.

One of the animals I saw, the Komodo dragon, was of course very familiar to me, having seen them so recently on their native island – see W1702 – Here really be dragons!.

These are the best of the photographs I managed to capture in the very wet and difficult conditions:


At the appointed time we met up with our guide again outside the zoo entrance, and returned to our ship by coach, where I was so glad to get out of my soaking wet clothes and take a warm shower.

It had been a difficult tour, both from my attitude to zoos and the way they exploit animals, and from the extremely wet weather conditions – but at least I managed to get some reasonable photographs despite the conditions.

Later that afternoon we finally set sail from Singapore, and having successfully negotiated our way out past the myriad of other ships and boats, we headed out towards our next port of call – Port Klang in Malaysia, where we would arrive early the next morning. This port is nearest to Kuala Lumpur, and my extremely long tour there will be the subject of my next post.


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