12 November 2012
Singapore Zoological Garden
Singapore's Zoological garden has been in existence since 1973 and occupies about 28 hectares. It is situated near the Upper Seletar Reservoir which is towards the north of the island. It has become one of the prime tourist attractions.
Keep to the path
The zoo can be explored on foot or via the guide tour trams. On foot is the best way to take in the environment as well as seeing all the zoo has to offer. The Treetops Trail is the first display zone after entering the zoo. At times it may require a keen eye to spot the gibbons, Brown Lemur and other wildlife in the trees as they can sometimes be obscured by foliage. When they are in view they can be moving swiftly, negotiating their way from one tree to another.
Beyond the Treetop Trail the pathway splits up. Going right heads towards the otters and flamingos whereas going left heads towards the tapirs and white tigers. All visitors are provided with a map so it is straightforward matter to determine which direction to take. In the end direction just prioritises the wildlife see first.
The tropical climate of Singapore can be subject to sudden flash rainfall. Located around the zoo are shelters from the rain and some of them are air conditioned as a refuge from the day time heat.
The majority of the animals on display are not kept in cages but in thoughtfully and well designed enclosures that initially may appear open but there are motes, high walls, and fencing installed in such a way as to provide a clear view of the wildlife but preventing the wildlife from escaping.
Zone to Zone
The zoo is split into a number of zones with each one specialising in a particular theme. The zones: Treetops Trail, Wild Africa, Gibbon Island, Australian Outback, Reptile Garden, Primate Kingdom to name but a few.
Singapore zoo is made up of several displays and one of particular interest in the Fragile Forest. This is an enclose that houses a variety of wildlife that would normal be difficult to get close to (in some instances). The enclosure has a winding pathway that takes you past various wildlife. None of the wildlife are caged here but contained by the enclosure.
The pathway goes past tropical butterflies, Two-toed Sloths, birds, head by not seen hissing cockroaches, Lesser Mousedeers, Ring-tailed Lemur busy roaming over head, Black and white ruffed lemurs, and Malayan Flying Fox bats. This is all a delight for those who like to see wildlife close up.
Animals have the habit of just lazing around most of the time. Some times they may relax in the shade and out of sight from visitors. The best time to view the animals is during feeding time. The animals activity often picks up as it gets closer to feeding time.
Despite the very open concept of the zoo most of the land (and displays) are supplied a great deal of shade by the many trees. It can get very hot in the zoo and the shade from the sun is always welcome. However, there is a price to be paid for the photographer as light levels are lower. Telephoto zoom lenses are the best choice overall as some animals can a fair distance away or there is the need to blur out distracting backgrounds. A 70-200mm f/2.8 is a good lens to use as the fast optics helps to maintain fast shutter speeds. A typical ISO setting of 400 is usually required. A 70-300mm or 70-400mm lens typically has slower optics and would require a cameras ISO be boosted higher.
The Waiting Game
Taking a quick snapshot of an animal is an easy matter but the results may be disappointing. It is not an issue of having a high specification camera as super zoom cameras like the Canon Powershot SX50/SX260 or Sony Cyber-shot HX20v/HX9v etc are very capable but it’s more a matter of waiting for the right moment. Sometimes that moment does not seem to come when attempting to take photos of for instance the Mandrill. It has the uncanny habit of turning its back (or showing its colourful behind) when a camera is raised at it. Waiting around is not much fun in temperatures (usually above 30 degrees celsius with high humidity) but the resulting photos make the waiting around worth it. It is always worth spending time to observe the wildlife of interest as it helps to understand behaviour.
Give it Time
The zoo is not the place to visit in a hurry but when to take the time to see all it has to offer. It is easy to spend the day at the zoo. For those very keen to take wildlife photos it may take several visits get the shots intended. It comes down to being in the right place at the right and hoping the weather produces favourable lighting condition as well as not being overly hot.