Is Singapore Zoo the Best Zoo in the World?


white tigers at singapore zoo

When I decided on Singapore as the location for my visa run, I was instantly bombarded by emails from several of my readers simultaneously ordering me to visit Singapore Zoo.

With that kind of peer pressure piling on me, I weakly agreed.

You see, I don’t even really like zoos. Most animals completely terrify me and the ones that don’t are kind of boring. Like snails. And fish. Then there’s the whole depressing aspect of seeing unhappy animals in cages and behind glass panels. It doesn’t seem like much of a fun day out to me.

However, Singapore Zoo is one of the very few “open-concept” zoos in the world. The animals are kept in spacious, landscaped enclosures separated from the visitors by moats. These moats are sneakily hidden by plants or rocks so you really feel like nothing is separating you from the animals.

zebras singapore zoo

lemur singapore zoo

I did my research and came to the conclusion that if I was ever going to like a zoo, Singapore Zoo would probably be the one.

As soon as I entered the zoo, I took on a completely new persona. I became Indiana Jones. I found myself sauntering down narrow pathways and clambering over rocks while casually whipping vines and branches from my face. I only wish I’d had a bandana to wrap around my face to complete the look.

Everything felt so realistic and even the bathrooms stuck to the rainforest theme and made you feel like you were outside peeing in the bushes.

toilet singapore zoo

Following the advice of a friend, I arrived at the zoo at around 3pm and although it was just starting to cool down, being Singapore, it was still incredibly humid so make sure you take a bottle of water (or ten) with you so that you don’t dehydrate.

The other benefit of arriving mid-afternoon is that by this point most of the children have run out of energy and left the park – it was much quieter and I didn’t have to deal with screaming kids running around my legs excitedly as they so often seem to do.

Altogether I spent three hours wandering around the park. Here are some of my favourite photos of the animals I saw.

rhino singapore zoo

giraffe singapore zoo

singapore zoo

zebra singapore zoo

blue bird singapore zoo

And my absolute favourites – the white tigers. I adore these photos of them.

white tigers at singapore zoo

white tigers at singapore zoo

white tigers at singapore zoo

As I was just about to leave I decided to visit one more exhibit.

The naked mole rats.

mole rats singapore zoo

Even taking this photo made me squirm and shudder in fear. I was even more horrified when I learnt that mole rats live in colonies ruled by a Queen, who is the only mole rat that is allowed to mate. Her urine contains chemicals that keep all of the other females in the colony sterile!

After all that excitement, my stamina started to wane and so I exited the zoo and headed to a bench outside to have a little nap before going on to visit the Night Safari next door.

Admittedly, I haven’t been to many zoos around the world, but without a doubt Singapore Zoo was the best one I’ve been to so far and is definitely the only one I’d consider visiting again in the future. I genuinely felt like the animals were happy and well looked after and the lack of barriers and cages made it a fun and unique way to observe animals that you may not necessarily see in the wild during your lifetime.

Have you ever been to Singapore Zoo? What’s the best zoo you’ve ever visited?

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary ticket for Singapore Zoo in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

35 Comments

  1. March 8, 2012
    Reply

    How did you score the free ticket? Do you know what the general admission was? I will be going to Singapore in about a month and the kids and I would love to check it out. I always feel terrible for the animals but this sounds wonderful!

    • March 10, 2012
      Reply

      Yes Mary, the zoo would be fantastic for your kids – the animals seemed so happy! It costs S$20 for adults and S$13 for children.

  2. Sophie
    March 8, 2012
    Reply

    I really like Singapore Zoo, and my kids love the night safari. Will keep my eyes open for your take on that :)

    • March 10, 2012
      Reply

      The night safari was so much fun too!

  3. Someday I'll Be There - Mina
    March 8, 2012
    Reply

    So your research made sure 100% that no animal can come near you yeah? :D I can imagine that :D

    the pictures are amazing and i think it could be one of the most amazing zoos in the world!

    • March 10, 2012
      Reply

      Hahahahaha, Mina, you know me so well! :D

  4. John
    March 8, 2012
    Reply

    Looks like a pretty incredible zoo…love that there aren’t any bars/windows/etc. I hope we’re going to get to read about the night safari too!

    • March 10, 2012
      Reply

      It was an awesome zoo! I’ll be posting about the night safari soon!

  5. Kieron
    March 9, 2012
    Reply

    Singapore Zoo is pretty great and easily one of the best we’ve been too (and we’ve been to a lot) – the only downside is walking around in that heat!

    • March 10, 2012
      Reply

      I know! God, I covered in sweat within about 2 minutes!

  6. Maggie
    March 9, 2012
    Reply

    The best zoo I’ve ever been to is the San Diego Zoo. There are lots of different animals and lots of fun things to do and see. I lived in SD for 5 years and it was always a great place to visit. I agree with your timing of going at 3pm to get away from the little kids–great idea!

    • March 10, 2012
      Reply

      It was so much quieter in the afternoon than it is first thing in the morning! I haven’t been to San Diego Zoo yet, but I hear good things about it!

  7. Micamyx|Senyorita
    March 9, 2012
    Reply

    I haven’t been to the Singapore Zoo, but I’ll take note of this one on my comeback trip. So far my favorite is the Chiang Mai Zoo :D

    • March 10, 2012
      Reply

      Oh, really? After 3 months living in Chiang Mai, I didn’t ever manage to get to the zoo!

      • PJ
        March 10, 2012
        Reply

        Hope you made it to Khun Lek’s Elephant Sanctuary just north of Chiang Mai..an amazing opportunity to get up close to Elephants in a semi-wild setting with some emotional stories thrown in for good measure. At one point I was literally surrounded by a circle of Elephants!

        The Meerkats were my favourite from the Singapore Zoo!

  8. Will - Gap Daemon
    March 12, 2012
    Reply

    Those naked mole rats remind me, ever so faintly, of genitalia. Interesting photos chica! Singapore rocks eh?

  9. March 18, 2012
    Reply

    Hey, I’m flying to Singapore april 24th. Never been one for zoos much but this zoo looks great. How much did it cost? Never mind, just saw it in the comments. 20 bucks is a bit pricy, was there any student discount or way to sneak in :) ?

  10. Waegook Tom
    March 24, 2012
    Reply

    That bird with the blue afro is AMAZING. I want to dress up a whole flock of them and teach them to perform to Sister Sledge songs.

  11. Ankish Chaudhari
    April 22, 2013
    Reply

    Today I went to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium and let me tell you it is amazing…I have been to San Diego Zoo so I can tell that Omaha’s Zoo is far better…San Diego zoo may be big in numbers but when it comes to design and animal’s natural habitat Omaha’s zoo is far better and to make it clear it is not small it is huge…you can not cover in one day just like San Diego zoo…Singapore zoo comes on the list as it appears to be best zoo in the world based on different ratings…

  12. animal lover
    October 11, 2013
    Reply

    As an animal lover, I’ve visited many a zoo in my life . All the zoos I vsited were worth it Here is m list :
    – Bronx zoo
    – Amsterdam
    – Barcelona z
    – Berlin z
    – Paris z (which came a long way from under average 20 years ago to much better if not outstaning today)

    • October 12, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks for adding to the list! I was actually disappointed with Amsterdam zoo. There was a lot of concrete and it wasn’t made to look much like the animals’ natural habitat.

  13. Matthew
    October 23, 2013
    Reply

    I agree with you. I have been to the San Diego Zoo and to be honest, I think that the Singapore Zoo is ever so slightly better than the San Diego Zoo. Yes, the San Diego Zoo does have more animals, but apart from a select few, you don’t really get up close and personal with them. For those animals you do get close to, they are on leads or next to keepers, so it doesn’t really feel as natural as the Singapore Zoo. However, I LOVE the pictures you took from the Singapore Zoo. I’ve been there three times already but your pictures make me want to go again!

    • October 30, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks, Matthew! I’ll have to visit San Diego zoo next time I’m in the area :-)

  14. Duncan
    October 10, 2014
    Reply

    I Have been to Singapore three times and visited the zoo each time. I absolutely love it! There is something enchanting about it, and as the report says, its YOU who feels like you’re caged in (as you walk on paths) and the animals are roaming free. The Singaporeans are superb gardeners as well, and they’ve landscaped it very well (there’s even air conditioned shelters dotted about if the heat is getting to you!). I can’t wait to go back again, hopefully soon…!!! I read a recent CNN article on the top 5 zoos in the world although I reckon Singapore Zoo beats both San Diego and Loro Parque as I have visited them both.

    • October 13, 2014
      Reply

      Glad to hear I’m not the only one who loves it, Duncan! :-)

  15. August 15, 2015
    Reply

    I loved your photos. What is the animal between the giraffe and zebras? Tigers are always my favorite to visit when I go to the zoo.

    • August 21, 2015
      Reply

      Honestly, I have no idea!

    • Astina
      January 21, 2016
      Reply

      That’s the “Greater Mouse-Deer” which is a native species of the Malay Peninsula.

      • January 29, 2016
        Reply

        Amazing! Thanks for letting us know, Astina! :-)

  16. Maria
    October 19, 2018
    Reply

    Ahhh so cute!!! I love animals and I’m glad this zoo seems to be a good one that provides a good habitat for the animals. ? ? ?
    I went to the Night Safari and it was awesome.
    These are awesome photos and great description. ?
    Wonderful post. Thanks for such detailed information.

  17. November 28, 2018
    Reply

    Wonderful post. Thanks for such detailed information. I am travelling in October with my family. My dad is hemiplegic so he will be in wheelchair. We want to cover both Singapore Zoo and River Safari. How much do we need to walk? Are the pathways easily wheelchair friendly? Is it like really very long walk combining both. Are the outside food allowed inside as I need to carry some homemade food for my father.

    • December 1, 2018
      Reply

      Yes, it’s very wheelchair-friendly! And you can bring your own food in. Have a great trip!

  18. November 28, 2018
    Reply

    My biggest concern would be about the trip back. We think of leaving around 10 pm…is it easy to find a bus back to the city center? What about the taxis? Are those readily available? Any feedback to know how to get back to Orchard road would be precious!
    Thanks and keep the good job up!

    • January 8, 2019
      Reply

      I took a taxi back! There were plenty waiting outside to take you back into the city. There’s also the Grab taxi app you can install on your phone, which works like Uber.

  19. Jonathan Chow
    September 18, 2020
    Reply

    Seriously if you ask me the Singapore Zoo is the Best in the World! It is a zoo like no other just feel absolutely natural and captivating.⭐⭐⭐⭐👍👏👏🦧

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