Singapore Zoo celebrates its Golden Jubilee

18 May 2023
Come 27 June 2023, Singapore Zoo will mark 50 monumental years of connecting people with wildlife, and its evolution as a zoological institution dedicated to animal care and conservation. The Golden ZOObilee festivities kick off in May with a lineup of activities to come.

The entrance of Singapore Zoo in its early years and now. The wildlife park has welcomed close to 60 million visitors over the last 50 years.

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

The entrance of Singapore Zoo in its early years and now. The wildlife park has welcomed close to 60 million visitors over the last 50 years.

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

Mike Barclay, Group CEO of Mandai Wildlife Group, said, “Kinship and community are the hallmarks of this Golden ZOObilee. We pay tribute to the generations who have looked after the animals under our care, the cohorts of dedicated staff who have worked hard to sustain this world-class zoological institution, and the millions of guests as well as generous donors who have enabled Singapore Zoo to go from strength to strength over the last 50 years. Above all, Singapore Zoo brings us all closer to wildlife, serving as the best possible platform to celebrate the wonders of the natural world, to explain the threats faced by so many animals in the wild, and to share what we can all do to allow people and wildlife to thrive together. We would like to thank everyone for their unyielding support, and we will continue to reinvest funding and resources to improve our zoological parks, from education programmes to breeding programmes, and financing wildlife conservation work across the region.”

A window to the wild

The idea of a zoo near the Upper Seletar Reservoir was conceived in 1968. Subsequently, the pioneer team started from a clean slate to create a naturalistic zoo that also takes advantage of Singapore’s tropical environment. Singapore Zoo opened in 1973 and is now internationally well-known for its open-concept design. Amongst the immersive wildlife habitats that are most popular with guests are Fragile Forest where close to 50 species - from birds to mammals - freely roam the biodome, and the world’s first free-ranging Orangutan exhibit that opened in 2006. The zoo also introduced glass-fronted galleries where guests can get up-close with carnivores like leopards or appreciate underwater viewing of aquatic animals like Sea Lions and Pygmy Hippos showing off their gracefulness in the watery realms. In more recent years, RepTopia[1] was launched to bring guests into the curious world of the planet’s most threatened reptiles, amphibians and arthropods (animals without backbones).

Starting out with just 272 animals across 72 species five decades ago, Singapore Zoo today is home to more than 4,200 animals from over 300 species, of which 34 per cent are threatened. Animals that have made an indelible mark in the hearts and minds of Singaporeans include Ah Meng the Sumatran Orangutan, Inuka the first Polar Bear born in the tropics and Omar the White Tiger.

In the zoo’s storied history, it has seen significant births such as the endangered Komodo Dragon in 2009. Singapore Zoo was the first zoo in Asia, outside of the species’ native home of Indonesia, to successfully breed it. Other important new additions included a pair of Crocodile Monitors in 2019, particularly special as they were the world’s very first second-generation Crocodile Monitors to hatch under human care. Going further back in time, Singapore Zoo celebrated its first Orangutan birth in 1975, slightly more than two years after the zoo opened. It was rare for the species to have progenies under human care, and since then the zoo has had more than 44 Orangutan babies.

Wildlife Care, Conservation and Education continue to be the core tenets of Singapore Zoo. Over the past decades, Singapore Zoo has made significant strides in these fields. The zoo is an accredited member of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) and the Zoo and Aquarium Association of Australia (ZAA), as well as a member of the Southeast Asia Zoo Association (SEAZA) and the World Association of Zoos and Aquaria (WAZA). It currently participates in 58 internationally managed ex-situ breeding programmes for species like the Bornean and Sumatran Orangutans (whose populations are managed regionally by the zoo), Red Ruffed Lemur and Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo, contributing to the conservation of species through breeding, research and education. It is also home to five insurance colonies for threatened species including the Burmese Roofed Turtle and Small Cigar Stick Insect. Insurance populations safeguard threatened species against extinction under human care to increase the chances of the species’ survival in the long term while the threats in their habitats are dealt with. In addition, Singapore Zoo has one of the largest ex-situ populations of Southeast Asian Chelonians (Turtles and Tortoises) as well as the largest and most successful breeding colonies for Proboscis Monkeys and Red-shanked Douc Langurs outside of their native range.

The zoo regularly engages people from all walks of life through conservation and sustainability education, such as via school programmes to inspire a love for wildlife through outdoor experiential learning. Besides partnering schools on multi-disciplinary learning journeys where Singapore Zoo serves as a living classroom, it has also made its way into story books as curriculum-recommended reading resources.

Celebrating 50 years with a zoo-per fun line-up

As one of Singapore’s oldest wildlife parks, Singapore Zoo has welcomed close to 60 million visitors over the last five decades, many of whom have made precious memories at the zoo. This Golden ZOObilee, join in the celebrations of this beloved national icon and discover its wildlife wonders anew.

The ART-ZOO concept was inspired by creator Jackson Tan’s fond childhood memories at Singapore Zoo. ART-ZOO comes to the zoo for the first time in a fitting celebration of its golden jubilee. 

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

ART-ZOO Happy ZOObilee runs from 27 May to 27 August 2023. Eight bespoke animal sculptures have been created especially for this commemorative edition. It will be hard to miss the larger-than-life inflatables and 2D sculptures of Jubilee the Rothschild's Giraffe, Astove the Aldabra Giant Tortoise, Komali the Asian Elephant, Minah and Bubu the Pygmy Hippos, Bunny the Linne’s Two-toed Sloth, Izara the Grevy’s Zebra, Hoepel the White Rhino, and Ah Meng the Sumatran Orangutan. Besides snapping photos along the Instagrammable Happy ZOObilee trail, children can interact with tactile play elements to get the inside scoop on their favourite animals. End the trail at the 21-metre-long inflatable art playground, with other fringe activities including animal interaction sessions and craft workshops.

Pick up the pace with the Mandai Wildlife Run which will take place on 23 and 24 September 2023. Previously known as the Safari Zoo Run which started in 2009 in memory of Ah Meng, the event makes a return after a 3-year hiatus, providing the unique opportunity for participants to run in Singapore Zoo, River Wonders and Night Safari while taking in the sights and sounds of nature. There will be something for everyone with all-new race categories for seniors, as well as health and wellness activities, sustainability-themed workshops and up-close animal interactions. Every sign-up comes with Conservation Included, where a portion of proceeds goes towards supporting conservation projects locally and in the region. Registration starts on 27 June 2023.

Singapore Zoo will be launching Backstage Pass – Incredible Invertebrates on 6 August 2023. This new tour will take participants behind the scenes of Fragile Forest to discover the role of insects in our ecosystem. Hear all about the fascinating invertebrates which make up 95 percent of the animal kingdom, and get hands-on with activities such as identifying butterfly eggs and releasing newly-unfurled beauties into the Butterfly Aviary. Guests can book this Backstage Pass from 6 July 2023.

In the meantime, keep a lookout for the Zoo Adventure Tour: ZOObilee edition from 27 June to 27 August 2023. The private buggy tour will incorporate key highlights of the zoo’s history, on top of animal interaction and feeding sessions. Guests can explore the park with their specially curated handbook. Tour bookings open on 27 May 2023.

Also, check out the 2-day Wild Explorer Camp from 1 to 2 June and 8 to 9 June 2023 for young ones aged six to 10 years. Parents can sign their children up for a fun-filled wildlife experience at Singapore Zoo and River Wonders during the holidays, where they will get to embark on guided tours and meet animal ambassadors.

Please refer to Annex A for more information on the various activities and Annex B for Singapore Zoo’s milestones over the last 50 years.


[1] RepTopia launched in 2017

The area just outside the entrance of Singapore Zoo which first featured flamingos, and later, macaws. 

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

The naturalistic design of the zoo in the early days included luxuriant landscaping and the use of moats. At this Gibbon Island exhibit, the disguise of safety barriers added to the immersive experience for guests.


Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

The early deer exhibit featured a dry moat with shrubs. Singapore Zoo joined the front-runners in the naturalistic phase of zoo designs across the world.  At the time, many zoos were still focused on hygiene and disease prevention, keeping their animals in stark, sterile surroundings designed with easy-to-clean sanitary tiling or smooth concrete.

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

Inuka, the world’s first Polar Bear born in the tropics, was a firm favourite for guests who visited Singapore Zoo. 

Inuka died on 25 April 2018 but continues to live on in the hearts of many Singaporeans who grew up with him. A sculpture of Inuka in one of his favourite positions welcomes visitors at the Singapore Zoo entrance.

 Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

Commemorating Singapore’s jubilee anniversary of independence in 2015, the first giraffe born in Singapore Zoo in 28 years was aptly named Jubilee.

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

RepTopia officially opened on 16 August 2017. A third of the exhibits showcased weird and wonderful creatures that had never been seen before in Singapore.


On the right is Ms Amy Khor, then Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Environment and Water Resources, and Ministry of Health mesmerised by a Green Tree Python during the official opening ceremony where she was the Guest of Honour.

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

Opened in 1988, Fragile Forest is Singapore Zoo’s first immersive exhibit. It continues to flourish today and offers opportunities for guests to get up-close to wildlife. The biodome expanded with a new butterfly aviary in 2018.

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

Ah Meng was the zoo’s most prolific resident. She died on 8 February 2008 of old age and was estimated to be 50 years old. Four thousand people attended her funeral.

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

Singapore Zoo continues to see bountiful animal births, including that of Izara, a Grevy’s Zebra foal, on 30 September 2021. Grevy’s Zebras are the largest and most endangered of the world’s three remaining zebra species. The adult herd arrived at Singapore Zoo in June 2020 and is part of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) ex-situ programme (EEP) for the species.

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

Annex A - Activities for Golden ZOObilee



ART-ZOO Happy ZOObilee

Go on a fun-filled trail featuring Instagrammable inflatables and 2D sculptures, and interactive trail stations to learn more about Singapore Zoo’s star animals. Share your memories with us on social media by posting your photos with #HappyZOObilee #SingaporeZoo #artzooworld and stand to win prizes!

Explore the trail stations along the way to discover fun facts such as the different ways elephants can use their trunks, and our Giant Tortoise’s favourite snacks.

Make your way to the Pavilion by the Lake and join Ah Meng and friends on the Happy ZOObilee Party Inflatable Art Playground for the celebration finale. Other activities are also available (below).

Date: 27 May – 27 Aug 2023 (Members’ Preview on 20 and 21 May. Open to public on 27 May)

Time: 10am – 6pm, daily

Venue: Around Singapore Zoo

Ticketing: Sale of $50 ZOObilee Bundle for 1 adult and 1 child from 18 May – 25 Jun 2023.

Terms and conditions apply.

Seasonal pricing of $50 for adults (excluding seniors) and $36 for children for visits during 27 May – 27 Aug 2023, inclusive of the ART-ZOO Happy ZOObilee experience.

Happy ZOObilee Trail Booklet  

Collect the Happy ZOObilee Trail Booklet* to discover more about Ah Meng and friends. Complete all 6 activities within the booklet to redeem a limited-edition Happy ZOObilee Pin*.

The Trail Booklet includes a birthday hat for you to piece together. Don your birthday hat and join the celebrations! 

*Redemption of Trail Booklet is only for children aged 3 to 12. Trail Booklet and Pin are limited on a first-come-first-served basis and while stocks last. Terms and conditions apply.  

Collection of Trail Booklet

Date: 27 May – 27 Aug 2023

Time: 10am – 12:30pm and 1:30pm – 4:30pm, daily

Venue: Boat Dock (Next to Babirusa exhibit)

Redemption of Pin

Date: 27 May – 27 Aug 2023

Time: 10am – 5pm, daily

Venue: Pavilion by the Lake

Wish a Happy ZOObilee to Singapore Zoo 

Grab a chalk and write your well wishes on the message board. You can also choose to decorate your own card and hang it up on the board.  

Date: 27 May – 27 Aug 2023 

Time: 10am – 4pm, daily  

Venue: Pavilion by the Lake 

[Happy ZOObilee] Recycled Card Making Workshop* by Studio An

Learn how to make recycled paper out of scrap papers. Get crafty as you create unique textures and patterns by incorporating natural materials and dyes into the paper. Enjoy $2 off the workshop when you bring your own materials.

*Chargeable at $10 per workshop. Subject to availability.

Date: 27 May – 16 Jul 2023 (Fri – Sun only) 

Time: 10am – 4pm  

Venue: Pavilion by the Lake 


[Happy ZOObilee] Paper Marbling Workshop* by Print N Matters 

Learn how to create beautiful marbled patterns and print your creation onto paper.

*Chargeable at $15 per workshop. Subject to availability. 

Date: 5, 6, 9, 12, 13 Aug 2023

Time: 10am – 4pm  

Venue: Pavilion by the Lake 


[Happy ZOObilee] Animal Encounters

Get up close with some of our animals and discover their quirks and personalities from the friendly keepers. 

Date: 29 May – 2 Jun, 5 – 9 Jun, 12 – 16 Jun, 19 – 23 Jun 2023  

Time: 3pm  

Venue: Pavilion by the Lake 

Mandai Wildlife Run

In conjunction with the Golden ZOObilee, Singapore’s only back-to-nature run (previously known as the Safari Zoo Run) is back for the 13th time! Run alongside your favourite animals at Singapore Zoo, River Wonders and Night Safari.

Taking place over two days, the Mandai Wildlife Run consists of the 5km Competitive Challenge, 5km Fun Run, and all-new race categories such as the 3km Ranger Buddies Family Dash and 5km Silvers Leisure Walk. Look forward to health and wellness activities, sustainability workshops and up-close animal interactions.


Date: 27 Jun – 4 Sep 2023, via the Mandai Wildlife Reserve website

Race Entry Pack Collection

Date: 16 and 17 Sep 2023

Race Day

Date: 23 and 24 Sep 2023

Venue: Across Singapore Zoo, Night Safari, River Wonders

Register your interest to stay in the know! More details will be available on, Facebook and Instagram @mandaiwildliferun.

Backstage Pass – Incredible Invertebrates

Go behind the scenes of Fragile Forest to discover the roles of insects in our ecosystem. Hear all about fascinating invertebrates which make up 95 percent of the animal kingdom, and get hands-on with activities such as identifying butterfly eggs. 

Date: Every Thursday and Sunday starting 6 Aug 2023 (sales start on 6 Jul)

Time: 10am – 11am

Venue: Fragile Forest

Pricing: $118.40 for weekdays, $148 for weekends and PH

Zoo Adventure Tour: ZOObilee edition 

Hop on your private buggy and let your Wildlife Guide bring you closer to wildlife with intimate animal encounters along the way. Explore the park with your specially curated handbook and uncover the history and highlights of Singapore Zoo’s past 50 years. 

*Two booklets per buggy.

Date: 27 Jun – 27 Aug 2023 (sales start on 27 May)

Time: 9.30am – 11am or 2.30pm – 4pm

Venue: Around Singapore Zoo

Pricing: $440 for weekdays, $550 for weekends and PH (up to 7 pax)

Wild Explorer Camp

This June holiday, young ones aged 6 to 10 can go on a fun-filled wildlife experience at Singapore Zoo and River Wonders, which includes guided tours and the chance to meet special animal ambassadors. The 2-day programme includes lunch, an exclusive camp booklet and a complimentary souvenir photo and certificate of participation.

Date: 1 – 2 Jun, 8 – 9 Jun 2023 (open for bookings)

Time: 10am – 5pm

Venue: Singapore Zoo, River Wonders

Pricing: $450/child



Be A Friend of Wildlife  

Receive a FREE* Friends of Wildlife tote bag that comes with a limited-edition keyring charm with every Friends of Wildlife or Friends of Wildlife Plus (Individual Adult / Family) sign-up. 

*Limited to first 500 sign-ups only. Terms and conditions apply. 

Promotion period: 15 – 19 May 2023 

Golden ZOObilee Sweet Treats 

Indulge in these exclusive and yummy macarons perfect for those with a sweet tooth. 

Venue: Wild Mart

Date: From 20 May 2023

Time: 10am – 6pm

Venue: Ah Meng Bistro 

Date: From 20 May 2023

Time: 9am – 5pm (Mon – Fri), 10:30am – 5:30pm (Sat, Sun & PH) 

Tea-time ZOObilee Indulgence  

Recharge at Ah Meng Restaurant (Terrace) and enjoy our afternoon hi-tea buffet serving an array of local delicacies and teatime favourites. 

Venue: Ah Meng Restaurant (Terrace)  

Date: 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18, 24, 25 Jun 2023

Time: 3pm – 5pm  

Breakfast in the Wild – ZOObilee Deal  

Start your day well with this iconic dining experience designed to inspire a love for wildlife and delight your senses! In celebration of the Golden ZOObilee, enjoy 50% off per child with every 2 paying adults.

Terms and conditions apply.

Venue: Ah Meng Restaurant (Terrace) 

Date: 1 – 25 Jun 2023 (Fri – Sun and PH)

Time: 9am – 10:30am 


Celebrate with Refreshing Treats 

Enjoy 50% off your second small scoop of premium ice cream with a purchase of the one small scoop.

Terms and conditions apply. 

Venue: Singapore Zoo Entrance  

Date: 1 – 25 Jun 2023

Time: 10am – 6pm 

Venue: Ah Meng Bistro 

Date: 1 – 25 Jun 2023

Time: 9am – 5pm (Mon – Fri), 10:30am – 5:30pm (Sat, Sun & PH) 

Commemorative Photo Frame 

Bring home a piece of memory after you pose alongside our Golden ZOObilee photo point! Purchase it at our photo counter.

Venue:  Photo Counter at Singapore Zoo 

Date: From 27 May 2023 

Time: 9am – 6:30pm

Bring Home a Golden ZOObilee Patch  

Receive a FREE Golden ZOObilee iron-on patch (U.P. $10) when you purchase a Singapore Zoo tote bag or apparel bundle. 

Venue: Singapore Zoo Main Retail Outlet 

Date: From 27 May 2023

Time: 9am – 6:30pm (Mon – Fri), 8:30am – 6:30pm (Sat, Sun & PH) 

ART-Zoo Happy ZOObilee Merchandise  

Purchase ART-ZOO merchandise for your little explorers.

Venue: Singapore Zoo Main Retail Outlet 

Date: From 27 May 2023

Time: 9am – 7pm (Mon – Fri), 8:30am – 6:30pm (Sat, Sun & PH) 

Annex B - Key Milestones of Singapore Zoo

1968 – The late Dr Ong Swee Law, then Chairman of Singapore’s Public Utilities Board, conceived the idea of a zoo in the catchment forests around the Upper Seletar Reservoir. A steering committee led by Dr Ong was formed in the same year to study the idea of establishing a zoo, which would over the decades, become integral in meeting the recreational, social and educational needs of Singaporeans, before gaining global recognition as a tourism experience.

Dr Ong (far left) and his committee survey an early exhibit, transformed from scribblings on the back of napkins to reality. 

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

1973 – The Singapore Zoological Gardens (later renamed as Singapore Zoo) opened on 27 June 1973, officiated by the late Dr Goh Keng Swee, then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence. Occupying about 28 hectares of land, the zoo featured a total of 272 animals across 72 species.​

On opening day, Susie the Orangutan offers her hand to Dr Goh Keng Swee. 

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

The public crowded the park on the first Sunday after it opened. 

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

1974 – Singapore Zoo received its first millionth visitor on Deepavali, about 17 months after it first opened its doors.​ This surpassed the initial estimate that it would take at least two and a half years for a million guests to pay the zoo a visit.

Mr Peter Lim, the millionth visitor to the Singapore Zoo was greeted by Ah Meng the Sumatran Orangutan and presented with a brand new Hitachi colour TV set on 13 November 1974. Mr Lim had taken his aunt from Malaysia to visit the park. 

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

1975 – Singapore Zoo welcomed its first Orangutan birth. The zoo had hoped for an Orangutan baby since the first Orangutans arrived more than two years ago, but it was rare for the species to have progenies under human care. From time to time, suspected pregnancies turned out to be false, until the discovery of an actual birth which was widely celebrated. Since then, Singapore Zoo has had more than 44 Orangutan babies, many of which went on to other zoos as part of global breeding programmes.

The happy family of mum Zeena, baby Jinak and dad Zabu. Zeena and Zabu were very fond of each other and often played together while warding off the advances of the other Orangutans. 

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

1982 – Breakfast with an Orangutan was launched in May 1982. Over the years, the popular signature dining experience evolved into Jungle Breakfast with Wildlife, before re-emerging as Breakfast in the Wild in October 2022. The programme now showcases an expanded range of rainforest animals besides the Orangutans, such as Coatimundis and Reptiles for guests to interact with and learn more about the plight of their species in the wild.

Now at Breakfast in the Wild, guests can interact with different animal species and their animal care team to learn about the natural behaviours and habitats, as they tuck into a delectable spread. 

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

1990 – The first Polar Bear in the tropics was born in Singapore Zoo. He was named Inuka, which means ‘silent stalker’ in the Inuit language.​ His mum Sheba and dad Nanook arrived in the zoo in 1978, and the Polar Bear exhibit opened in the same year.

Inuka weighed 250g at birth and made his first public appearance at three months old. The name ‘Inuka’ was selected from over 10,000 entries in a naming contest held in 1991. The zoo’s polar bear exhibit opened in 1978. Dr Ong Swee Law had learned that this bear species was successfully living in tropical temperatures at Sri Lanka’s Dehiwala Zoo. Today, Dehiwala Zoo no longer has Polar Bears. Singapore Zoo bade farewell to Inuka, in 2018, and it was the zoo’s last polar bear. 

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

1992 – Ah Meng was the first and only non-human recipient of the Special Tourism Ambassador award by the then Singapore Tourist Promotion Board, for her outstanding contributions in promoting the country’s zoo as a tourism experience. By 1986, the ​iconic Orangutan had featured in almost 30 travel films and appeared in hundreds of articles in newspapers and travel magazines. She also rubbed shoulders with movie stars and royalty such as Prince Philip, David Copperfield, Michael Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor.

1998 – Fragile Forest, Singapore Zoo’s first immersive exhibit opened. Visitors were able to walk through a rainforest environment with a 20,000 cubic metre flight area and observe a range of species such as Ruffed Lemurs, Scorpions and Hanging Parrots. The inclusion of tribal elements in the theming of Fragile Forest served to remind guests of the plight of forest tribes as a result of deforestation.

2003 – The Elephants of Asia exhibit featuring Myanmar-style architecture was opened by then President S.R. Nathan on 7 June 2003. The 1-hectare space came with a mud wallow, a bathing pool, a viewing loft and rustic thatched huts and took visitors on a cultural journey through other countries where elephants live.

Singapore’s sixth President, Mr S.R. Nathan interacts with Komali the Asian Elephant at the opening of Elephants of Asia. The exhibit provides a panoramic view of the majestic Asian Elephants and the tranquil Seletar Reservoir. 

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

2006 – The world’s first free-ranging Orangutan exhibit opened in March 2006. Visitors get to see the arboreal apes showing their natural behaviours in this treetop habitat. The area comprises tall trees, thick branches and abundant foliage and vines that replicate the Orangutans’ natural environment.

In the free-ranging exhibit, the Orangutans are encouraged to brachiate, or move by swinging with their arms from one hold to another. Wooden platforms and a hammock further serve as enrichment to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. 

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

March 2006 also saw the opening of the $3.6 million Wildlife Healthcare and Research Centre which greatly enhanced the research and conservation capabilities of Singapore Zoo and Night Safari, and more recently, River Wonders. The 1,600 sqm double-storey facility boasts facilities such as a fully-equipped operating theatre, a hoist which can lift weights of up to 1,000kg and animal wards with motorised walls. Autopsies of large animals can be conducted in the new pathology and post-mortem room, and the laboratory enables analysis of animal secretions and medicinal serums.

2008 – Singapore Zoo icon Ah Meng passed away on 8 February 2008 due to old age. She was estimated to be 50 years old. Four thousand people attended her funeral. She was the first zoo resident to be buried on park grounds, at Garden With a View.​

Born in Sumatra, Indonesia around 1960, Ah Meng arrived at Singapore Zoo at the approximate age of 11 in 1971 when she was confiscated from the Chinese family who had kept her as an illegal pet. After her death, Singapore Zoo erected a 1.5-tonne bronze sculpture in her memory. 

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

The same year saw the opening of Rainforest KidzWorld on 14 November 2008, officiated by Ms Ho Ching, then Executive Director and CEO of Temasek Holdings. Highlights of the area included a water playground, carousel and Kampung House offering insights into the animals that lived with villagers in the past. A brand new Rainforest KidzWorld will be ready by the end of 2023.

2009 – The Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund (WRSCF) was launched in July 2009 as an independent conservation fund dedicated primarily to native wildlife conservation and education. WRSCF strengthened the role of then Wildlife Reserves Singapore as the guardian of wildlife in Singapore, alongside the development of Singapore Zoo as it moved forward in wildlife care, conservation and education. Later in December 2020, Mandai Nature was established as the scaled-up version of WRSCF through which local and regional conservation work is carried out.

The inaugural Safari Zoo Run in memory of Ah Meng was held in the same year. A total of 6,000 participants ran 6.2km across both Singapore Zoo and Night Safari. ​The run returns as Mandai Wildlife Run in September 2023.

The Safari Zoo Run 2009 flag-off. The non-competitive run route comprised 3km through Singapore Zoo and another 3.2km within Night Safari. 

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

On 15 November 2009, Singapore Zoo welcomed the first Komodo Dragon hatchling in 34 years. Singapore Zoo was the first zoo in Asia, outside of its native home of Indonesia, to successfully breed the endangered species. The hatching signified dad Bima’s successful attempt at winning over mum Yoko, after one and a half years of courtship. Guests can drop by Reptile Garden to visit Mario who is now 13.5 years old.

The 40-cm long baby resting beside its empty egg shell in the incubator. The team had been planning for this momentous day since mum Yoko first laid eggs.

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

2013 – Opening of Inuka’s new home, Frozen Tundra leading up to Singapore Zoo's 40th anniversary. The 2,700 sqm exhibit featured climate controlled resting areas and an expanded pool for Inuka to swim in. Inuka lived to a ripe old age of 27, outliving the lifespan of wild male polar bears by more than a decade.

The idea of creating a new habitat for Inuka came about in 2006, and Frozen Tundra was designed not only to give Inuka a bigger space but to provide visitors a window into the arctic world which Inuka’s wild cousins live in. In 2006, the zoo said it would not bring any more Polar Bears to Singapore. The decision was in line with the zoo’s evolution and renewed focus on tropical wildlife and threatened Southeast Asian species in need of ex-situ management programmes. 

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

2016 – Ah Meng’s granddaughter Ishta was minted as the new Ah Meng to continue the legacy of Singapore’s favourite Orangutan. Aside from having a strong resemblance to her famous grandmother, she exhibits the makings of a matriarch — patience, tolerance towards the other Orangutans and a friendly personality.

Born on 8 March 2011, Ishta is the first offspring of Ah Meng’s late daughter Sayang and Galdikas, a male Orangutan from Frankfurt Zoo. 

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

2017 – RepTopia officially opened as a climate-controlled indoor exhibit showcasing the world’s most threatened Reptiles, Amphibians and Arthropods (animals with exoskeletons) against different landscapes. The spectrum of enigmatic and fascinating creatures ranges from the well-camouflaged to the brightly coloured, from the cute and cuddly, to the menacing and deadly. The mixed exhibits provide inter-species interaction, which is a great form of enrichment for the inhabitants, while augmenting the viewing experience for guests.

2018 – Singapore Zoo introduced a revamped Elephant presentation. Aside from introducing the audience to the Elephants’ personalities and quirks, keepers demonstrate positive reinforcement methods to engage the Elephants and encourage their display of natural behaviours. This is in line with the evolving care of Elephants towards the protected contact management system, meaning there will always be a physical safety barrier between the keepers and the Elephants, which allows the care team to continue providing quality care for the Elephants while ensuring a greater level of safety for both Elephants and humans. Mandai Wildlife Group first began laying the foundation for the protected contact system in January 2015, with the cessation of programmes involving direct visitor contact with the Elephants such as Elephant rides.

Intan (bottom) is coaxed to lie down in the water through positive reinforcement, while Komali (top) is encouraged to open her mouth to reveal her massive molar teeth to the audience. Both Elephants subsequently receive a food treat as a reward for participating in the activity. 

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

2021 – The Singapore Zoo logo was refreshed alongside the new corporate identity ‘Mandai Wildlife Group’ which manages all of Singapore’s wildlife parks and replaced ‘Wildlife Reserves Singapore’. The integrated destination, the Mandai Wildlife Reserve, is home to Singapore’s wildlife parks.

Also in 2021, 13 critically endangered Roti Snake-necked Turtles were reintroduced to their native country of Indonesia in the first repatriation of its kind. This was a significant milestone in ongoing conservation efforts for the recovery of the species’ wild population led by Indonesia with the support of Singapore Zoo and Mandai Nature, the conservation arm of Mandai Wildlife Group. The zoo houses the only assurance colony for the Roti Snake-necked Turtles in Asia.

The Roti Snake-necked Turtles had to undergo a full health assessment and required tests to ensure they were healthy and in good condition before their departure from Singapore Zoo. This included blood draws and recording their weights. 

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

2023 – Singapore celebrates its 50th anniversary, dubbed the ‘Golden ZOObilee’. With more than 4,200 animals from over 300 species, the zoo continues to offer many opportunities for guests to experience the wonders of wildlife. At the same time, it continues to work with zoological institutions across the world, contributing to the conservation of species through breeding, research and education.
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