Most of us are aware of the Giant Pandas enclosure at Singapore River Safari. After much anticipation, the park finally opens its door in a soft opening on 3 April 2013. Asia’s first river-themed wildlife park is situated right between the iconic Singapore Zoo and the award-winning Night Safari. River Safari (RS) is not only home to the adorable pandas, Kai Kai and Jia Jia but first of its kind in Asia that features freshwater attraction combined with river boat rides which will be operate at a later date. I was at RS for a preview walkabout and even though the park is only 12 hectares, smallest among the two, RS deliver exceptional experience to discover exotic wildlife inspired by world’s 8 iconic river habitats. Subsequently, the $160-million latest attraction complements the offerings of the Singapore Zoo through its impressive collection of freshwater fishes. Here’s a sneak peek on what you can expect at RS.
Similar to the ArtScience Museum, the architecture of the entrance plaza allows the ingress of natural light into the interior spaces. The park has 2 zones; Rivers of the World and Wild Amazonia.
The River is Calling…. Your journey to the RS start from the air-conditioned interactive room to understand the importance of animal conservation and the science of extinction especially for the endangered freshwater species. You will then embark to the Rivers of the World.
Known as the Ol’ Man River, the Mississippi is the fourth longest river in the world. This great river housed the North American fish called Alligator Gar that has existed for 100 million years. This ancient monster fish can reach the lengths of up to 3 metres long and over 100kg.
Mississippi Paddlefish has a distinctive snout, which is greatly elongated and flattened into a paddle shape.
The prehistoric-looking alligator is the Snapping Turtle, the largest freshwater turtle in North America. With its spiked shell, beak like jaws and thick scaled tail, this species is often referred to as the dinosaur of the turtle world. its massive jaws can easily snap off one’s finger. This reptile is listed as a threatened species as human capture them for their meat, shells and sell it in the black market.
Moving on next is the Congo River of Africa, deem as the deepest river on earth which as the height of tall skyscrapers. The Congo Puffer Fish look adorable but vicious! She tends to lay low taking advantage of its camouflage skills to hide from unsuspecting prey.
The Nile is said to be rivers of king that brings life and wealth into Egypt. The longest river in the world flows from the Great Lakes in East Africa all the way up into the Mediterranean Sea. The African Tiger fish is a fearsome predator known to take down large land animals grazing along the river banks. Similar to the Piranha, it has a set of protruding razor-sharp teeth which able them to slash its prey with relative ease.
The majestic Mekong River is certainly the mother of all rivers. Believe it or not, this endangered Mekong Giant Catfish is the largest freshwater fish in the world. Unlike other catfish, the Giant Catfish has no barbels, the whiskers normally found on both sides of the cheeks.
The bustling river of Yangtze have plagued the river waters and taken a heavy toll on the Chinese Sturgeon. This endangered fish have a shark-like form, with large pectoral fins, a rounded snout, and rows of pronounced ridges running the length of their spine and flanks.
Yangtze Alligator. They hunt mainly at night, feeding extensively on hard-shelled mollusks, fishes and occasional birds and rats.
Sheltered boardwalk connects the 2 river zones.
During my last trip to the Giant Panda Forest, the Red Pandas were not avail. The raccoon-like panda are shy in nature and spend most of their lives in trees or even sleep aloft.
Jia Jia, the giant panda has been retreating into her den so often that a closed-circuit television camera has been installed inside it. Can you spot her? Strictly 15 mins allocated time rule still apply to view the Giant Panda Forest.
Moving to Wild Amazonia zone. Common Squirrel Monkey spends most of their time foraging for fruit as well as insects and other small animal prey.
Over 18 animal species are featured in this aquatic display which can be seen through underwater viewing galleries at different levels; from the very bottom of the forest floor up to the water’s surface.
The Amazon River is home for the Giant River Otters, the world’s largest otter that can grow up to 1.8 metres. Their whisker is very sensitive that allows them to detect prey and even changes in water pressure and currents.
Did you know that almost 20% of the world’s oxygen is produced by the Amazon Flooded Forest.
The world’s largest freshwater aquarium is the highlight of the Amazon Flooded Forest. With a volume of 2,000m³ and a viewing window of 22 metres by 4 metres, the aquatic display is designed to provide visitors with an immersive experience. The breathtaking sight of Manatees gliding among tree trunks in a submerged rainforest is a re-creation of what the real rainforest like when monsoon season arrives in the Amazon region.
Be awestruck by the setting of the freshwater aquarium.
River Safari holds one of the largest collections in the world. Manatees are closely related to elephants which can live up to 70 years. Look how huge and heavy they are.
There are total of 7 Manatees including 2 calves. They are known as sea cows for grazing on aquatic plants and able to consume up to 100 kg of vegetation a day.
Unfortunately the Amazon River Quest is not up yet. During the soft opening period, visitors will be charged a discounted ticket rate of $25 for adults and $16 for children. Subsequently, visitors who wish to see giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia can do so only via RS. For more info, visit River Safari website.
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