ZOO-bilee: Celebrating 50 Years of Wildlife at Singapore Zoo!

Unforgettable Wildlife, Timelessly Treasured.
By: Iffah Salleh
May 23, 2023

Join the festivities of Singapore Zoo’s Golden ZOObilee, a beloved national icon celebrating its rich history and wildlife wonders. Over the past five decades, Singapore Zoo has warmly welcomed nearly 60 million visitors, creating cherished memories for all. 

This remarkable milestone pays homage to the devoted staff, dedicated animal caretakers, and generous supporters who have propelled the zoo’s legacy. 

Step into a world of wonder where the bond between humans and wildlife thrives. Through ongoing investments in education, breeding programmes, and wildlife conservation, Singapore Zoo continues to inspire. 

Join the extraordinary journey of the Golden ZOObilee and be a part of something truly remarkable this upcoming 27 June 2023!

Wilderness unveiled

Discover Singapore Zoo, a naturalistic oasis conceived in 1968 and opened in 1973. With its open-concept design and immersive habitats like Fragile Forest and the world’s first free-ranging Orangutan exhibit, the zoo captivates visitors.

Over the years, it has grown from 272 animals to over 4,200, including endangered species. Notable milestones include the breeding of the Komodo Dragon and the birth of 44 Orangutan babies.

Accredited by prestigious associations, the zoo actively participates in 58 breeding programmes and hosts insurance populations for threatened species.

Through education initiatives and partnerships with schools, Singapore Zoo promotes a love for wildlife and sustainability. Immerse yourself in the wonders of Singapore Zoo, where nature and education intertwine, inviting all to appreciate and protect our extraordinary wildlife.

A Fantastic Line-up Of Zoo-per Fun!

As one of Singapore’s oldest wildlife parks, Singapore Zoo has welcomed nearly 60 million visitors over the past five decades, creating cherished memories for many. Join the festivities of the Golden ZOObilee and rediscover the wonders of this beloved national icon.


During the ART-ZOO Happy ZOObilee from 27 May to 27 August 2023, you’ll encounter eight unique animal sculptures, including larger-than-life inflatables and 2D sculptures of beloved creatures like Jubilee the Rothschild’s Giraffe and Ah Meng the Sumatran Orangutan.

Explore the Instagrammable Happy ZOObilee trail, enjoy interactive play elements, and conclude the adventure at the 21-metre inflatable art playground. 

Mandai Wildlife Run

Don’t miss the Mandai Wildlife Run on 23 and 24 September 2023, where you can run through Singapore Zoo, River Wonders, and Night Safari while immersing yourself in nature’s beauty.

Backstage Pass

Starting 6 August 2023, the Backstage Pass – Incredible Invertebrates tour will take you behind the scenes of Fragile Forest, offering insight into the crucial role of insects in our ecosystem. Engage in hands-on activities and learn about the captivating world of invertebrates. 

Zoo Adventure Tour

Meanwhile, the Zoo Adventure Tour: ZOObilee edition from 27 June to 27 August 2023 provides a private buggy tour, including animal interactions, feeding sessions, and fascinating highlights from the zoo’s history.

Wild Explorer Camp

For young adventurers aged six to ten, the 2-day Wild Explorer Camp on 1-2 June and 8-9 June 2023 offers a fun-filled wildlife experience at Singapore Zoo and River Wonders. Join guided tours and meet animal ambassadors for an unforgettable holiday adventure.

Stay tuned for the launch of these exciting events and make the most of your visit to Singapore Zoo during this special milestone celebration!

Echoes of Wonder: Singapore Zoo’s Timeless Journey

60s to 90s

Dr Ong (far left) and his committee surveyed an early exhibit, transformed from scribblings on
the back of napkins to reality. Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

1968: The idea of establishing a zoo in the catchment forests around the Upper Seletar Reservoir was conceived by Dr. Ong Swee Law, Chairman of Singapore’s Public Utilities Board.

1973: The Singapore Zoological Gardens (later renamed Singapore Zoo) officially opened on June 27, with 272 animals across 72 species.

1974: Singapore Zoo welcomed its first millionth visitor, surpassing initial estimates of the time it would take to reach that milestone.

1975: Singapore Zoo celebrated the birth of its first orangutan, marking the beginning of successful breeding programs for the species.

1982: The popular dining experience “Breakfast with an Orangutan” was launched, evolving into “Jungle Breakfast with Wildlife” and later “Breakfast in the Wild.”

1990: Singapore Zoo became home to the first polar bear born in the tropics, named Inuka.

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

90s to 00s

1992: Ah Meng, the iconic orangutan, received the Special Tourism Ambassador award for her contributions in promoting the zoo as a tourism experience.

1998: The Fragile Forest exhibit, highlighting the impact of deforestation on forest tribes, opened at Singapore Zoo.

2003: The Elephants of Asia exhibit, featuring Myanmar-style architecture, was opened by President S.R. Nathan.

2006: The world’s first free-ranging orangutan exhibit was introduced, providing a natural habitat for the arboreal apes.

2006: The Wildlife Healthcare and Research Centre, a state-of-the-art facility, was opened to enhance research and conservation capabilities.

2008: Singapore Zoo’s beloved icon, Ah Meng, passed away, and Rainforest KidzWorld, an area focused on animal interactions, opened.

2009: The Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund was launched, and the inaugural Safari Zoo Run took place in memory of Ah Meng.

2009: Singapore Zoo successfully bred the endangered Komodo Dragon, a significant achievement outside its native home of Indonesia.

2010s till now

2013: Inuka, the polar bear, moved to a new home called Frozen Tundra in preparation for Singapore Zoo’s 40th anniversary.

2016: Ah Meng’s granddaughter, Ishta, took on the role of the new Ah Meng, carrying on the legacy of the famous orangutan.

2017: RepTopia, an indoor exhibit showcasing threatened reptiles, amphibians, and arthropods, opened at Singapore Zoo.

2018: Singapore Zoo introduced a revamped Elephant presentation, focusing on positive reinforcement and natural behaviours.

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

2021: The Singapore Zoo logo and corporate identity were refreshed under the new name “Mandai Wildlife Group.” The first repatriation of critically endangered Roti Snake-necked Turtles took place.

2023: It celebrates its 50th anniversary, known as the “Golden ZOObilee,” continuing its commitment to wildlife conservation, breeding programs, and education.

These remarkable milestones exemplify the extraordinary journey of Singapore Zoo, showcasing its unwavering commitment to delivering a world-class wildlife experience while championing conservation and education. 

At Glitz, we extend our heartfelt congratulations to Singapore Zoo on reaching these momentous Jubilee milestones! Wishing you many more prosperous years to come!

Find out more about Singapore Zoo here.

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