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Singapore's River Safari to open next week

The Amazon Flooded Forest features the world’s largest freshwater aquarium, which houses more than 18 animal species, including manatees. (ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN)

Publication Date : 26-03-2013


Visitors can't take boat ride yet but they can explore 8 iconic river habitats


The River Safari will open next week, but without one of its star attractions.

Visitors will not get to take the much-anticipated boat ride down a 483m-long man-made river for the full experience.

But neither will they have to pay the full price when the soft opening begins on April 3.

Tickets will be priced at S$25 (US$20) for adults, S$16 for children aged between three and 12, and S$12.50 for senior citizens above 60. The normal rates are S$35, S$23 and S$17.50, respectively.

Some 40 per cent of the 5,000 creatures, including the giant freshwater stingray, meant for the 12ha River Safari will also be missing, although they will be added to the park gradually.

Visitors can still explore eight iconic river habitats such as the Mississippi, the Nile and the Amazon, and see freshwater giants such as the Chinese giant salamander, the critically endangered Mekong giant catfish and the giant river otter.

One of the highlights is the Amazon Flooded Forest, the world's largest freshwater aquarium with a volume of 2,000 cubic m. An Olympic-size swimming pool is about 2,500 cubic m. It houses more than 18 animal species, including the manatee.

Also, the panda exhibit will now be accessible only through the River Safari entrance starting on April 3, and not through the Singapore Zoo, which is twice the size at 28ha.

"We felt that the rest of the River Safari is enough to keep a person entertained and interested for at least two hours," said Cham Tud Yinn, director of exhibit design and development at Wildlife Reserves Singapore, which owns the River Safari. It was his dream of an aquarium in the Mandai area that evolved into the S$160 million River Safari, which started construction in 2010.

"We do not want to give a confirmed date (for the boat ride) at this point... but we are confident it will happen this year," he said.

Adjustments are still needed to ensure that the boats, which will take people closer to species that live on the banks of the Amazon River such as the jaguar and Brazilian tapir, are "100 per cent safe".

There is also the need to get the animals used to the presence of boats. Cham said: "The animals probably haven't seen a boat in their entire lives."

They also have to be introduced to their new homes in stages, and this takes time, said River Safari assistant director of zoology Ang Cheng Chye.

The River Safari is Asia's first river-themed wildlife park and houses one of the world's largest collections of freshwater animals. The park, which will open daily from 9am to 6pm, will eventually host 69 exhibits featuring 150 plant species and 300 animal species.

US$1 = S$1.24


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