Breakfast with Orangutans at Singapore Zoo

Breakfast with Orangutans

Breakfast with orangutans? You’ve got to be kidding, right? Nope. Singapore Zoo offers this rather amazing opportunity most mornings. The breakfast is also awesome. What am I going on about?

When Our Traveling Zoo went to Singapore a few days ago we stuck to a strict budget and toured this very expensive city on the cheap. Breakfast with Wildlife was one of our few splurges and it was absolutely worth it!

we had breakfast with orangutans
A breakfast to remember!

Singapore Zoo

The Singapore Zoo has an excellent reputation, and being lovers of animals, we were intrigued. There’s a Night Safari that people love, but that wouldn’t suit our little kiddos. After a little bit of exploring on the internet, we discovered that the zoo offers a jungle Breakfast with Wildlife, and that sounded too cool to pass up. We thought that a visit to the zoo might just give everyone in Our Traveling Zoo something they’d like.

Singapore Zoo Location

Located on the northern outskirts of downtown, the Singapore Zoo was an easy MRT (don’t say “metro,” you’ll confuse everyone) ride away from our hotel in Bugis. Well, an MTR ride plus a $1 shuttle ride. The shuttle arrives every 20 minutes and picks up people next to the metro exit. Ignore the sign that says you have to use a transportation card to take the shuttle: you can pay cash after you get off. The train ride there gave us a better picture of the city at large, as we hadn’t seen much outside of the most touristy parts of Singapore.

A Good Meal Close to Orangutans

The breakfast with orangutans was nifty. We arrived a little early, as recommended, so we could work our way to the open restaurant without being in a big rush. When the zookeepers let the orangutans onto their perch a few feet from the dining area, there was a sudden hush and then burst of chatter. Soon everyone was abandoning their meals to get a picture taken. We waited until the queue died down a little bit, which was not the best choice–even though the line moves quickly, by the time we got there, the animals were getting a bit bored. Those who lined up early got pictures with primates who were still pretty keen on being there. Nonetheless, it was awesome to be within six inches of these amazing animals. The oldest orangutan in attendance (Ishta, the granddaughter of Ah Meng who had quite a celebrity status in Singapore) seemed to look straight into your soul. Jenia actually teared up just looking at her.

posing with Ah Meng
Turtle wanted a photo with Ah Meng statue. This amazing ape was Singapore’s “Special Tourism Ambassador” back in the day.

The Food

We were a little worried about the vegetarian options, but we shouldn’t have been. As you can see on the menu, there was lots of good food for various tastes: everything from eggs and baked beans to dim sum to French toast to curry. It is a buffet with unlimited access and children under 6 eat free (there is a discount for kids aged 6-12). Jenia thought the grilled tomatoes were superb. Turtle and Princess unsurprisingly favored the fresh fruit, fresh juice, and yogurt. Shon stayed true to himself and ate heaping portions of everything. As there are only 20 or so tables available every day, it is wise to reserve in advance (and the earlier you reserve, the closer you will be to the animals). You do not need to pay in advance, but you do need a confirmation from the website (it took me two tries to get it but the support service was great).

breakfast with orangutans
Our table wasn’t the closest one but I can’t complain

We Learned About Orangutans

We also learned a lot about orangutans. It turns out, for example, that the word “orangutan” is Malay for “man (orang) of the forest (utan).” These creatures are normally very solitary. They share 97% of the DNA with humans. They are the largest tree-living mammal. Like chimpanzees, they can fashion tools and learn sign language. Singapore Zoo has 26 of these beautiful creatures,  which makes it the largest colony of captive orangutans in the world. The apes have lots of freedom to roam. At any time, you might glance up as you walk through the park and notice an orangutan swinging overhead on the network of ropes and platforms available just for them. There were two species of orangutans hanging out at breakfast with us, mainly distinguishable by different coloring. The animals mate for life, and live long lives, too, 35-45 years in the wild and up to 60 under human care.

breakfast with wildlife
Mmm, sugar cane!

It is no secret that orangutans are an endangered species. Between deforestation and palm oil plantations, orangutans have lost over 80% of their habitat in the past 20 years. As they are tree-dwellers, poorly equipped to live on the ground, they cannot adapt to such changes. If you would like to learn more about orangutans and how you can help them, please check out this wonderful resource.

Beyond Breakfast

After we finished gorging ourselves on the delectable breakfast foods, we explored the rest of the zoo. It was a hot and humid day, as most in Singapore are, but there was lots of shady space which helped make the heat tolerable. There is stroller, wagon, electric scooter, and wheelchair rental as well as a tram one can ride if going gets hard. The zoo also offers a variety of shows, tours, feedings, and keeper talks that we mostly had to skip–there is only so much time in a day! As one might expect in Singapore, the employees are very friendly and helpful, the bathrooms are clean, and there are baby-changing facilities available throughout the zoo.

lush singapore zoo
Look at this greenery!

What We Liked

We were quite impressed. The enclosures were usually spacious, and they were all clean and tidy. There are animals you can see really close–at an arm’s length or so–like lemurs and tamarinds. Shon dug the lush jungle landscape. It was fun to happen across actual wildlife such as a 2-foot lizard sunning himself on the path, too. Jenia liked the animals, of course, and commented that the water in the various animal pools, such as the one belonging to the African penguins, was really clean–”The cleanest I’ve ever seen in a zoo,” she exclaimed. The kids enjoyed the children’s zone that had a lovely splash pad, ponies to ride and goats to pet.

zebras singapore zoo
There is no need for a zoom lens at this zoo. The animals are so very close.

The Verdict

Worth the splurge! Even though this isn’t a cheap endeavor as Breakfast with Wildlife is an additional fee on top of the entry ticket price, having breakfast with orangutans is something we will not forget. It was a moving and educational experience, a humbling one, even, a fantastic start of the day and a delicious, satisfying meal. No regrets.



17 thoughts on “Breakfast with Orangutans at Singapore Zoo”

  • hey, i didn’t know about this breakfast with orangutans in singapore zoo! actually, despite the fact that i’ve been to singapore several times, i’m a bit hesitant to visit the zoo. i suppose i should consider this next time i go there.

    also, a little correction about the ‘metro’, i believe in singapore we call it MRT instead of MTR. MTR is one we call it in hongkong. 🙂

    safe travel for you and your lovely family! 😀

  • Although I don’t agree with wildlife being exploited in this way, I do love close encounters, and it looks like you guys has a lot of fun! Great photos, thanks for sharing!

    • We understand your reservations as we try to be on the lookout for humane practices as well. From all we saw, they do right by the orangutans at this zoo. They only appear to the public for 30 minutes, they are not made to perform/interact/exhibit any unnatural behavior. They just sit and eat. The public is not allowed to touch them, feed them or get closer than a certain distance. The keepers are required to have worked with them for several years before they are allowed to bring them out to breakfast to ensure a trusting relationship and there are no restraints used at all – the oldest orangutan walked by herself, the 2 “teens” held a keeper’s hand.

    • You’d be surprised how many adults without kids were present 🙂 The animals seemed very relaxed for sure. The visitors aren’t allowed to touch them/bother them in any way.

  • Love the idea of brekkie with the Orangutans. We were in Borneo last year and got to see them up close as well. Beautiful creatures – I bet the kiddos loved seeing them. 😊

  • It looks like they take care to give the animals a natural habitat in which to flourish. But breakfast with orangutans…that’s indeed a unique way to interact with them! I will remember this when we go back to Singapore…after 20 years!

    • They really do seem to do well by the animals. I wonder how you’d find Singapore after such a long break! We loved it.

  • First things first, the kiddos are sooooo cute!! Omg, cant take my eyes off them 😀 What a fun activity this is. Learning plus fun. So glad this is done in an appropriate way without any harm to wildlife 🙂 The best part is that there were vegetarian options! Yay!

  • I’ve been to this zoo, too, and I know that they try to be good to these endangered animals. However, they are wild animals and now have to sit still and pose for pix with the visitors….I have strongly mixed feelings when wild animals have to do a job. Anyway, the zoo is very nice and I hope you guys had fun. Did you also go to the night zoo afterwards? That was quite special, too.

    • I understand your concern. The animals didn’t have to do anything. One of the younger ones wanted to seat separately and eat and nobody bothered it. They let it be. We didn’t get to do the Night Safari because it was too late for our kiddos. Maybe next time!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

79 Shares
Share29
Pin50
Tweet
+1
Stumble
Share