Update: May 19, 2008.
The Spider Monkey strikes while the iron is
Written by Dr Sing in
Oct 21, 2001 on the last visit to the Singapore Zoo with 2
reluctant teenaged boys, now young adults more interested in
online gaming and the birds and the bees.
Young children learn to care for animals at a young age if they can get to know them and
not think that all wild animals must be killed as they are dangerous, little knowing that
people destroy their living areas by cutting down trees and clearing the land for building
houses. and growing crops.
Visiting the Singapore Zoological Gardens on a Friday October 19, 2001 at 4 p.m
was a good outing for the kids (2 boys Jason and Daniel aged 13 and 15).
The tropical heat was not gone. The humidity was not so high but many European tourists do
sweat it out.
A healthy orang utan, grand daughter of Ah Meng
looked so much like Ah Meng. Ah Meng is around 40 years old.
There were some
complaints in the local press that Ah Meng was forced to attend public functions with
visitors. Ah Meng used to attend "breakfast with Ah Meng" and it looked like a
very popular event.
Would an orang utan like Ah Meng get bored doing the same thing as
people working in the same job for 20 years?
Tourists enjoy photography with the grand daughter of Ah Meng and another orang utans or
the pythons. The orang utans were most happy to pose for photographs and with their
handler. The photographs were printed by the friendly staff, within 15 minutes,
using digital means.
The chimpanzee is said to share 98.4% of the DNA of people. How about the orang
rides much loved by children all over the world! There seemed to be an absence of local
children at this time. Older children don't seem to visit the zoo in large numbers and
this is a pity as they can appreciate more about wild life and environmental conservation
than the younger ones. Hosting a party at the zoo to reach out to teenagers and
preteens was an excellent idea. Even then, this event was criticised as being
noisy affecting the animals.
The snake show of an albino Burmese rock python and an ordinary rock python was of great
interest to the visitors. Picture above is an albino python which will
not survive well in the forest as it can be easily spotted by the eagles.
The tourists were allowed to touch the snakes.
Pythons do not bite but don't touch their nose, the handler said.
white tiger was restless. He had been pacing back and forth for over
10 minutes and growling. What did he want? Was he
hungry? Suddenly, he just went into the moat and it looked as if he was looking
for a fish to catch.
What was in the tiger's mind? Nobody can say. After
5 minutes of finding nothing, he went up to dry ground again.
A Spider Monkey, probably pregnant as she had a big "stomach" was
sitting on the rocks. She saw a Taiwanese lady eating some biscuits. She just
took the biscuit off the hands of this lady and ate it. The tourist patted
her on her forehead.
The spider monkey saw a bigger opportunity by snatching her translucent plastic bag containing
McDonald's fries and drink. When the lady wanted her bag back, she just climbed to
Does this incident tell us to be opportunistic? Strike while the iron is hot? Be
proactive in matters affecting our livelihood even though we are well fed? Not to be
complacent about our property and life as the environment changes affect us unexpectedly
and we have to be alert all the times, even at the zoo?
Note: An interesting book for animal lovers. WILD MINDS - What Animals Really Think? Marc P. Hauser. Published in
Available as a reference book at the Woodlands National Library.
"What It's Like to be a Spider Monkey?" (Epilogue).
May 19, 2008.
Talk on the Singapore Zoo's family infrastructure at the
Pro-Family Business Conference 2008.
The reason I went to the Pro-Family Business Conference 2008 in
Suntec City on May 15, 2008 was to learn something from the
excellent presentation by the Singapore Zoo's Isabel Cheng.
Many new ideas have increased visitorship and the stay of
visitors in the past 4 years. Apparently the Singapore
Government has had stopped giving grants to the Zoo and they are
on their own.
"It is not easy to increase visitor numbers due to
competition from other entertainment outlets," the speaker said.
Singapore has too many events and distractions.
1. The White Tiger is the most popular exhibit and its enclosure
has had been upgraded at great expense.
2. Now, friends of the zoo (FOZ) membership permit grandparents
and maids are allowed to substitute for parents to bring the
kids to the Zoo. I didn't use the FOZ membership much as only
the parents were needed to visit the zoo with 2 kids.
3. Locals comprise 70% of the visitors to the zoo while tourist
comprise 70% to the Night Safari. Advertisement and promotion is
focused on the locals and the impressionable children.
I believe 150,000 children from schools visit the zoo. My two
sons did not visit the zoo as their teachers probably did not
bother to organise any trip.
4. The Zoo is now a learning zoo and is pro-family with stroller
rentals, own-operated cafes and restaurants to ensure quality.
5. A viewing gallery to see the vet operating in a new Research
Centre. I have not been to the Zoo since 2001 and will love to
visit this Centre. Conservation animals account for 21% of the
zoo animals and there has been successes in breeding of
endangered animals at the Zoo.
6. Movie show "Charlotte's Web" at the zoo brought families
together. This initiative had some criticism from animal lovers
for not letting animals have their peace.
7. Crops being grown in the zoo to let the children see where
their potatoes come from. Certainly not from McDonald's.
8. I like an interesting project to permit visitors to see orang
utans close. "Being intelligent, the orang utans pee onto and
throw sticks at visitors," the speaker said. After trial and
error, the zoo solved this problem. Exactly how, I could not
9. A common membership card to visit all 3 places: Zoo, Night
Safari and the Jurong Bird Park.
10. The Zoo Map is colourful and not thrown away as litter as in
11. Heads of animals on wooden sign-posts are put up instead of
12. More interactive education rather than plaques describing
the animal's habitat as during 2001 when I visited.
13. Convenience store Cheers is open 24 hours?
14. Jungle breakfast with orang utans. "Breakfast with Ah Meng"
was the original USP (unique service proposition) that put the
Singapore Zoo on the world map. Ah Meng passed away some 2 years
themes and features introduced in 2008 so that repeat visitors
don't see the same things include new wet and dry parks etc. A
boat ride. A rainforest trail. It must be so much fun for the
pre-school and primary school children to visit the zoo now.
It has been 7 years since I visited the Zoo.
The boys are grown up but the younger one recently remembered
about the Sunday mornings when they were just teenagers and had
to wake up to go to the zoo at 8.00 a.m. I was the only early
riser in the family.
I hoped to teach them wildlife conservation while they were at
an impressionable age and to learn photography (2001 photos
taken by me look bad).
But all the 2 boys wanted during their spare time was to
slaughter the 2-legged animals in the virtual world of
multi-role online gaming. Till they could not keep their eyes
open anymore and had to sleep before dawn. Their mum just wanted
to sleep longer.
Did I learn something from the Conference? Yes. New ideas I read
about in the business books to improve the services of my
veterinary practice. Now, how to make it fun for the children
and families to visit the practice of just 60 sq metres?