Saturday, April 7, 2012

Let's Go To The Zooooooo!

It was the school holidays some time back, and we decided to set aside a day for the zoo. We prepared snacks, including freshly cut fruits, packed the usual contingencies, water-play essentials, cameras, and cabbed down to the Singapore Zoological Gardens! We decided that this time, we would allocate more time for the kids to play at the water-themed playground. On the way, we managed to catch the feeding of the Orang Utans, and view some of the larger birds and mammals, along with our favourite reptiles.

It's interesting to note that the zoo rents out scooters, strollers, mini-trailers, wheelchairs and other equipment to accomodate almost anyone. We did not ride on the trams till much later in our trip when the kids started to get tired of walking.

We made sure we stopped by at all our favourite exhibits, one of which is the elephant bathing time where tourists get to interact with the bathing elephants by buying a basket of fruit for $5 each and feeding them right in their baths! It's easy to forget just how huge these giants are until their thick trunks reach out to take the apples out of your hand and toss it whole into their bucket sized mouths.

Feeding the giraffes has also become one of the activities we look forward to when we visit the zoo. We always recall the day three years ago when we brought our older girl to feed the giraffes, and the then baby took a mouthful out of the carrot meant for the giraffe. You should have seen the shocked look on the giraffe. I could imagine the giraffe saying, "Hey! That's mine." It was so funny!

We took some pictures of our best animal imitations and compiled them here. Can you tell what we are pretending to be? (*Hint: the animal is in the picture too!)

The kids' area was our focus today. There is an animal themed carousel, small mammal touch pens, playgrounds, and the main fuel of the day: Kentucy Fried Chicken! We bought a ticket that allowed us to try the carousel, and pony ride, but we did not get round to trying the horse drawn carriage.

The KFC just fronts the water-play area making it an appropriate launch pad to hours of fun in the sun. There were about three different slides, and we lost count how many times the older girl came down each one.

Water cannons, climbing nets, stairs and ladders, misting and water spouting structures, even a gigantic tipping bucket that pours out a crashing waterfall every few minutes. There was much running about, and kids everywhere. There were employees dispatching the kids down the slides and maintaining safety.

Needless to say, the girls were more than tired after their lunch and water-play, and the trip back to the main entrance was on the tram as everyone did not feel like walking very much. I think we all fell asleep in the cab on the way home. The zoo is one place we never seem to get bored of. We've made a handful of trips here and we always enjoy ourselves. We look forward to our next trip here!

Educational Aspects:

- The exhibit groupings (for example Fragile Forest, Australian OutbackWild Africa, Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia) provide an appropriate and readily available educational dimension to the trip. If you have school going children, it is useful to highlight the different characteristcs of the different habitats, and how the animals in those habitats have adaptations that allow them to thrive in the habitats they live in.

- Why is it important to showcase wildlife in a setting like the zoo? What are some concerns and issues with regards to deciding where these animals come from? How far should we go in conserving natural habitats and how can it be balanced with economic development and bettering the lives of the people who live there? Your young ones, if they are old enough to understand, can learn that like many issues, conservation is sometimes tricky and while public education is crucial to future protection of a species, some institutions can be unethical when it comes to sourcing for their exhibits.

- While surfing the Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) website, I came across a treasure trove of multi media resources, articles, and newsletters informing readers about upcoming educational activities for children. The activities on the website are divided into sections for Preschool, Primary, Secondary and above, and there is even a page for teachers. To make the visit to the zoo even more enriching, a suggestion might be to view some of these videos highlighting conservation issues before the trip so that we can talk about these issues inbetween walks from one exhibit to another.

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