27 September 2013, by Tan Yi Lin
It’s been a year since our last visit to the zoo.
Coco was a mere 13 months old on her maiden trip to the zoo. We discovered back then that trying to cover the zoo’s expansive grounds with baby in tow was an exercise – in more ways than one – that involved a huge amount of effort for very little (visible) reward:
Us: “Coco, look at the elephants!”
Us: “Coco, look at the lions!”
Us: “Coco, look at the giraffes!”
Rinse and repeat for the zebras, hippos, monkeys, rhinoceroses and tigers. Thumbs up for the comical penguins who finally managed to elicit some smiles from The Unimpressed Tourist. But then, so did a bunch of dead leaves.
As for the water play area, that proved to be a hit with Coco.
Now that Coco is 2 years old and can recognise and name most of the common zoo animals, I jumped at the chance to bring both the girls to my company’s Family Day event at the zoo last Sunday. We were confident that she would enjoy the excursion a lot more this time round and were keen to re-present the stars of the zoo to the little critic.
Us: “COCO!” (um, yes, we were REALLY EXCITED, hence the SHOUTING) “What animal would you like to see at the zoo tomorrow?”
Us: “…. Ants? You mean ELE-PHANTS, right?”
Coco: *shakes head* “Ants.”
Oh well. That was easy enough.
We found some of ’em busy little creatures scurrying around, minding their own business, and checked them off our To See list.
Plus, we definitely surpassed her expectations by throwing in a giraffe, a couple of zebras and a whole lot of monkeys as well.
Tops, I say. Such good parents, we are.
This year’s visit to the zoo with a toddler and a 5-month old baby made last year’s trip look EASY. I thought I’d share some tips from our experience last Sunday:
(1) Bring extra hands
This is a no-brainer. I readily paid for 2 extra Adult tickets to the Family Day event for (a) grandparents; (b) the other set of grandparents; (c) godparents; (d) anyone gullible enough to come with us. The 4 extra hands eventually came in the form of my sister and her boyfriend (THANK YOU, GUYS! THANK YOU!)
The extra hands proved to be very, well, handy for (a) collecting candy floss; (b) collecting the KFC meals that came with the ticket; (c) collecting the event goodie bags; (d) pushing strollers; (e) carrying strollers up and down the tram; (f) taking (some) photos; (g) all of the above and more.
Yes, the poor couple had to work awfully hard in return for their tickets. Probably explains why we have hardly any photos of the excursion too. We actually need MORE hands for that.
(2) Don’t be too ambitious
The event pass included entry to both the zoo and the River Safari. I stupidly thought that we could cover both attractions in half a day. My cleverer colleagues made the right decision to opt for an open-date ticket to visit the River Safari on a separate date – just like how you probably wouldn’t visit both the zoo and Night Safari on the same day.
As if our itinerary wasn’t already busy enough with so many animals to see, we made a stop at the water play area at the zoo (altogether now: *GROAN*), which brings me to my next point…
(3) Save the water for the last
Simply because you would otherwise have to struggle through the rest of the visit with a super heavy bag containing all your water-logged clothing.
Not smart. Lesson learnt. ‘Nuff said.
(4) Monkeys rawk
I’m not a fan of hairy primates but I have to admit that monkeys have the greatest Return On Investment (ROI) for the least effort.
Instead of dragging the kids across the zoo to specially see the elephants or the giraffes, or jostling with the crowd for a glimpse of the elusive white tiger or Inuka the lonely polar bear, we parked ourselves in front of the various monkey exhibits (orang utans, chimpanzees, gibbons, spider monkeys, proboscis monkeys, etc.) and let the furry residents entertain us with their antics. Coco watched in awe as the monkeys deftly scaled branches and swung on the vines, and admittedly, so did I.
(5) Head for the river
Visiting the River Safari was a very comfortable experience. The airy, shaded, wooden boardwalk that hugged the reservoir’s edge was a breeze to navigate on foot with strollers in tow. The exhibits on the world’s river systems were pretty fascinating. Animals on display included the infamous pandas – Kai Kai and Jia Jia, red panda, beavers, anacondas, spider monkeys, dugongs / manatees, giant stingrays, alligators and a plethora of freshwater fish such as the giant Mekong catfish and piranhas.
We had to rush through the exhibits before Coco got too tired to enjoy them (Claire had already dozed off by then). But even at a leisurely pace, the River Safari is a relatively small attraction and can be covered in less than 2 hours. With that in mind, you might want to wait until the boat ride through the other half of the River Safari is in operation (at the end of this year) before planning to spend a day at the River Safari.
(6) Lastly…. DON’T FORGET YOUR KID’S SWIMSUIT!!!
Yes, yes, I know. *face palm*
It’s worse when you realise that you diligently packed a swim diaper for the kid who HATES water (ie Claire) but conveniently forgot to bring swimwear for the water-loving sibling. Coco practically ran into the water play area fully clothed.
Thankfully, the gift shop was well-prepared and well-stocked to cater to forgetful parents. I ended up shelling out $36 for a blue and yellow swimsuit for Coco that made her look like a minion from Despicable Me, but hey, she was happy. The well-trained store assistant even took the initiative to remove the tags from the swimsuit and handed me a plastic bag to put the wet swimsuit in later. Well done.
Needless to say, we were all exhausted after spending (a mere) 4 hours at the zoo.
Nonetheless, it was a pretty good trip and we may, I daresay, just go back again soon!