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Toa Payoh Vets
19 May 2008

Community Education for first-time pet owners and animal lovers --- sponsored by and

Update: May 19, 2008.

The Spider Monkey strikes while the iron is hot.

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.

Singapore orang utan 5 year old female. grand daughter Ah Meng
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 utan?
Children still love pony rides
Pony 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.

This 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. 
White Tiger in a moat looking for 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.   
Spider Monkey in Singapore Zoological Gardens  

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 the trees. 
Spider monkey checking out McDonald's red box of fries
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 2000. 
Available as a reference book at the Woodlands National Library.  "What It's Like to be a Spider Monkey?" (Epilogue). 

 Update: 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.

Singapore Pro-Family Business 2008 Conference Awards given. Toa Payoh Vets.

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 understand.  

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 the past.

11. Heads of animals on wooden sign-posts are put up instead of just words.

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 ago.   

15. New 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.  

Mr Randy White at Pro-Family Business Conference 2008, Singapore. Toa Payoh Vets

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?   

Be Kind To Pets - SingaporeBe Kind To Pets educational stories for pet lovers. Telephone +65 9668 6468, 
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