For those who are FOZ – aka “Friends of the Zoo” – here in Singapore, or who have recently visited the zoo (probably with overseas visitors in tow) you will not have been able to avoid the much-hyped opening of The River Safari.
Our eldest son, Lex, actually features in a promotional video for it that was shot years back – well he got about a second of exposure, featured is overstating it. The film crew approached his school to “borrow” some kids for the shoot, I presume, because it had a healthy demographic mix. I attended the shooting, and it was a bit weird. There was a jumped-up producer swanning around on a boat, complete with a very effeminate neck scarf and entourage, yelling orders into a megaphone.
It finally fell apart when the four year old kids refused to look interested in some book. I mean, who can blame them? The kids are at the zoo, and they have to “concentrate” like they are all trying to split the atom? The teachers enjoyed it, as it was an opportunity to get glammed up with make up artistes in attendance – the only trouble was it was soooo hot, by the time we’d all been standing around for three hours, that carefully applied makeup was sliding away in huge chunks.
Anyway, so I finally got around to taking the boys the other day, and I have to say, very unlike anything to do with the zoo, and I left feeling underwhelmed.
First up, despite being members, we had to line up for tickets, which, with two wriggling excited lads was painful in itself. After that, armed with maps, etc… we headed for the entrance, and it was here I noticed that a huge section of the attraction was yet to be completed. And this is the section with boat trips, etc. What is actually open now is a kind of glorified walking track that takes you through various attractions and tanks, across the river and back to the entrance. Walking very, very slowly we were done in under an hour and a half, despite multiple toilet stops, water breaks and “time-outs”.
With all that said, the boys were happy. Following the predetermined route, it brings you to various major river areas such as the Ganges, Amazon, Mississippi, Nile, Congo, Mekong and, for the Aussies, the Murray. The information is very informative and certainly interesting for the adults, while the tanks that hold various wildlife separately, enthralled the kids.
The boys also saw their first beaver, much to the amusement of every Caucasian male within earshot (and my Facebook friends).
Somewhere in the mix are the pandas, which I have to say must be the laziest critters on the planet – they just lay down with their backsides to the audience. Although things did get a bit exciting (with the staff at least) when one of the pandas returned after having its enclosure cleaned. Once returned, it promptly proceeded to lay down and go straight to sleep. The red pandas were very cool; and a lot more energetic.
The boys were fascinated by the huge rays as they glided back and forth, and the manatees also held their attention forever it seemed. The highlight, however, was when a penguin took a huge dump in the water as it swam past the boys – which they very excitedly pointed out to everyone (and I mean everyone).
There’s no doubt when it’s finished it will be awesome, but as it stands today, it’s a fairly expensive way to kill a couple of hours with the kids. Tickets are priced at $25 for adults and $16 for kids. Most of it is undercover or inside so it’s pretty weatherproof. The only thing I would say is there are limited places to get something to eat or drink once you’re actually inside.
If you’re looking for a full days entertainment, this will not be enough.
Stuck for ideas to spend a morning or afternoon – take a trip and tell us what you think? It can certainly only get better and we all know that in Singapore, things like this are done very very well.. it’s just not quite there yet.