SINGAPORE ZOO: Anita - one of Southeast Asia's most recognisable natives - ignores most of the items at Singapore's most curious breakfast buffet. Scorning the fried eggs, hash browns, noodles, dumplings, and toast and marmalade, she and her two-year-old son, Joko, gorge themselves on fresh fruit. Other restaurants in the republic, nicknamed 'Asia Lite', may put on a better spread, the service might be sharper in Raffles, diners elsewhere might show a bit more decorum, but for putting the fun back into food, breakfast with the orang-utans on the Makan Terrace at Singapore Zoological Gardens is undiluted entertainment. Showtime starts with the apes' trainer calling for volunteers to come up on stage. Youngsters who are quick off the mark - and there's near Olympian competitiveness in operation here - can revel in the delirious, wriggly mixture of apprehension and excitement occasioned by sitting a hair's breadth from a primate and helping it to mangosteens, rambutans and jack fruit. Not in the least overawed by her starring role, Anita accepts the proffered fruit as no more than her due, occasionally posting some small titbit into Joko's mouth, and perusing the audience with the amused and supercilious gaze of a hirsute Queen Victoria. Just visible some metres behind Anita's dining table is the cage which is her home for the rest of the day, together with her relations who gambol in and out of the audience's field of vision, scarcely looking in their direction and prompting the question whether taking breakfast with the humans is regarded as privilege or penance? Act One over, a queue forms for photo-taking, Anita munches on, undeterred by the popping flashes and procession of strangers. After about 35 minutes, the food is finished, the orang-utans are led away by their trainer and, in a slightly uncomfortable parallel, the tourist groups by their guides. As zoos go Singapore's does remarkably well. There are few cages, and the permanent inhabitants are kept at arm's length from their visitors by deep moats and camouflaged fences. Tropical foliage adds to the illusion that the safari has come to you, rather than vice versa. And thanks to the zoo's published feeding programme, it is not just the orang-utans which so obligingly strut their gustatory stuff. Polar bears cavort in a glass tank as big as a Cinerama screen, swallowing fish in a single movement that would seem dainty if they didn't weigh several hundred kilos. White rhinos blunder out of the undergrowth to put on a spectacular display of guzzling. Komodo dragons - more stage shy - rip into their prey only on the second and last Sunday of the month. And elephants, lions, king cobras, pygmy hippos and, those stars of a thousand tea parties, the chimpanzees, all tuck in al-fresco holding the homo sapiens utterly in thrall. Tips: get to the Orang Utan Breakfast early and sit near the front so your offspring can hurtle on stage first. This is also the best spot for taking photos. How to get there: Singapore Airlines (tel: 2520-2233) flies to Singapore from Hong Kong at least four times a day. The official economy return fare is HK$7,290, but travel agents can offer better deals. The Traders Hotel (for reservations, call 2331-6688) is offering rooms from S$161 (HK$740) per night. The hotel is close to the MRT, and only a few stops away from Ang Mo Kio station, from where bus 138 makes regular trips to the zoo. Open 8.30 am - 6 pm, admission S$10.30 for adults, S$4.60 for children. The Orang Utan Breakfast starts at 9 am and costs S$15.45. Website: www.zoo.com.sg/ .