Tonight (Thursday) we went to the Night Safari at the Singapore Zoo. We had heard from a lot of folks that it was really well done, but hadn't made it there yet. We figured it was a good activity to do while Mickey was here. As usual it rained about 5 pm and we were a little worried. But also as usual it cleared up and was a nice evening.
We got there a little before 7 pm, which is just before it gets dark. Since Singapore is near the equator, it gets dark about 7:30 all year round. We spent a few minutes looking at the shops at the entrance and were in the park just as it opened up at 7 pm. There was a long line to get on the tram, but they were well organized and we were on a tram by 7:20. It was just starting to get dark, and the view of the animals along the tramway was really nice.
We decided to get off the tram at the first stop, the only people who did. It was a good decision. We went along the walking trails, and since the park had just opened, the ones at the far end (where we got off) were virtually empty. It was really an incredible experience to walk along the trails through the jungle at night. They have lighting, but it is indirect and very subtle, not bright at all. We went through two habitats for flying animals, one for flying squirrels (no, I didn't see Rocky or Bullwinkle) and one for bats. The one with the giant fruit bats had a number of bats that were hanging in trees right next to the walk. They were huge! Their bodies were the size of a really large house cat. And they were just hanging upside down in trees right by the path. You could have reached out and touched them. Awesome. Sandy and Shannon got spooked and didn't go through the bat habitat, but Steve and Mickey did. It was great.
As we walked along the jungle trail in the dark, we could hear a roaring in the distance. Eventually the trail took us to an overlook of the lion habitat. Only about 70 feet away were several lions. One was roaring, just like at the beginning of an MGM movie. It was quite an experience to be in the dark jungle, with the sounds of tropical insects and a roaring lion, watching the lions less than a hundred feet away.
After hiking that trail we deserved a reward - popcorn and soda at the snack bar. It was the first time I had popcorn since I got to Singapore. And it was pretty good too. Then we just made the tram again, and took the rest of the tour around the zoo. The elephants were quite impressive in the dark, as well as some of the unusual animals. My favorite was the Capybara, the world's largest rodent. The largest ever specimen of Capybara was 79 kg (that's almost 175 lbs for those of you who flunked high school physics). Now that's a big rat!
At the end of the tram tour, we were just in time for the animal show. They had various animals doing tricks. It was not spectacular, but the guy doing the show was actually very talented so it was quite amusing. Fun to watch. The only disappointing thing was the behaviour of the crowd. They must have asked people at least 10 times not to take flash pictures. In spite of that, there were at least 20 or 25 flashes that went off during the show. Finally they sent people into the crowd to individually tell people who just kept taking flash picutes. It was really disappointing to see how stupid and obnoxious people could be. Oh well, at least we were good. After the show, we took another of the night trails. This one went through one of the last stands of original forest on the island of Singapore, so it gave an idea of what the it was like before the city was built. And it was serious jungle.
I really liked the Night Safari. It was very well done. You got a chance to see a lot of animals that were a lot more active than at a typical zoo - many animals are nocturnal. The mood with the subdued lighting and the dark jungle with all the insect and animal sounds was really cool. I enjoyed it. And we got to have Ben and Jerry's ice cream at the end before we went home.