Park-in for a safari with a difference with a difference

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 March, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 March, 1995, 12:00am

IT DOES not require much courage to venture into this jungle, even though you are only allowed to go in after dusk. Some of the specimens, from Sambar Deer to Gir Lion, are just right there, with some almost running into you.

That is how inhabitants of the world's first Night Safari Park, opened in Singapore in May last year, welcome their visitors.

Now featuring 946 animals covering 100 species, the safari was designed under the open-zoo concept, with lush vegetation and moats cleverly masking the hidden barriers to enhance the illusion of freedom and natural jungle-like atmosphere for the animals.

Yet some of them such as the Axis deer and hog deer can move freely within the region.

'Only few people realise that about 90 per cent of tropical animals are nocturnal,' Ong Swee Law, executive chairman of Singapore Zoological Gardens, said. 'Animals behave differently at night than they would in a zoo which opens only during the day.' While a 45-minute tram ride, covering a 3.2-kilometre loop, allows visitors to stop along to admire the wildlife, a 2.8 km walkway enables them to have a closer look at the animals not easily seen from the tram, including small cat families and primates such as Loris and Tarsier.

The scenery changes from Himalayan foothills to jungles of Southeast Asia and Africa, with animals grouped under their native regions.

Himalayan Tahr, Grey Goral and Markhor will be seen on the Himalayan foothills with Barasingha and Sloth Bear in the Indian sub-continent, while Anoa and Bearded pig are found in the Indo-Malayan region. The tropical Africa has Bongo and Cape Buffalo.

Safari's horticultural curator Herbert Wee said trees and plants were also an attraction.

Located at one of the last remaining large tracts of dense vegetation in Singapore, Mr Wee, said the park's vegetation had been largely retained to preserve the character of the forest and only about 12 per cent of tree stocks had to be cut to create the various animal habitats.

Lying adjacent to the Singapore Zoological Gardens with which it shares the 40-hectare of land, the park is open from 6.30 pm to midnight. Admission is $80 (adults) and $55 (children).