A Not So Open Concept

Are you a zoo person?

I am. . . sometimes. . . okay, not really.

I am when the animals are being treated humanly.  I am when they are given the most amount of space possible and not locked up in tiny cages.  When conservation efforts are being made, and the goal is to protect the animals; not put them on display solely for human entertainment.

So I guess I am not really a zoo person, except in very specific circumstances. . .

The Singapore Zoo, lays claim to being “the world’s best rainforest zoo. . . where animals roam freely in open and natural habitats.”  Ask anyone whose been, and most people would say it’s a definite must see.  Heck, its rated number five on TripAdvisor.  I, however, was left wanting.

The zoo seems to do well with its conservation efforts and education programs.  It is very well maintained, and it’s easy to see that they take good care of the animals in their charge.  However, the only animals I witnessed to be “in open and natural habitats, where they could roam freely” were their primates.


young orangutans hanging out with visitors

The primate populations here have the largest enclosures, or no enclosures at all, and roam around the park at will.  There were some other “open concept” areas where guests enter a large enclosure and the animals within wander around “freely” (as is the case with the lemurs, bats, and wallabies).  What I found disappointing, and upsetting, were the disproportionately smaller enclosures given to the larger animals such as the elephants, rhinoceroses, and especially the large cats.

the jaguar's enclosure for example, is ridiculously small.

the jaguar’s enclosure, for example, is ridiculously small.

When I think of an “open concept zoo where animals roam around in as natural an environment as possible” I think of the San Diego Wild Animal Park  (now known as the “Safari Park”).  Here, the animals are given a very large portion of land to wander around in, and are grouped with other animals they would naturally encounter in their environment out in the wild.  Or, the San Diego Zoo, with it’s massive enclosures.  Or, better yet, Apenheul a truly “open concept” primate zoo.  What makes these zoos better, in my mind, is the effort given to each species to provide them with as much space as possible, given the circumstances.

click on the image to view the gallery

click on the image to view the gallery

With poaching ever on the rise and the rapid rate in which many species are dwindling from the earth I understand, and at times, can appreciate the need for quality zoos and what they have to offer: awareness, conservation, breeding programs, sanctuary, etc.  The Singapore Zoo is, in all fairness, one such zoo.  And is undoubtedly one of the best zoos in Asia.  It’s just not one that I care for, due to the small enclosures of the other animals.

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