Almost 2,000 visitors at Singapore Zoo on first day of reopening

A staff member ensuring safe distancing between visitors at the entrance of the Singapore Zoo on July 6, 2020. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Close to 2,000 people visited the Singapore Zoo on Monday (July 6), the first day of the reopening of the park, Jurong Bird Park and River Safari to the public.

The three parks had been closed for nearly three months since the start of the circuit breaker in April and first reopened their doors to members only from last Friday.

The Night Safari will remain closed for the time being.

Each park will host up to 25 per cent of its capacity at any one time, and all visitors must buy tickets online, as well as book their time of entry, before their visit.

The parks are also using technology to monitor the number of visitors in real time and will trial systems that track crowd density, said a spokesman for Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), which runs the parks.

On Monday, there was a steady stream of families, couples and the elderly entering the zoo at 9.45am when the media arrived, and by 10.15am, there were 897 visitors.

WRS did not reveal visitor numbers for Jurong Bird Park and River Safari.

At a quarter of its capacity, each park can hold between 1,000 and 2,250 visitors.

As Monday was also the Youth Day school holiday, many of the visitors to the zoo were families with children in tow.

"With fewer people in the zoo, we were able to get closer to the exhibits, take better pictures and take our time at each exhibit," said Ms Jayne Oh, 38, a freelancer in accounting, who visited the zoo with her colleague.

To prevent crowding in the parks, features and activities such as tram rides, animal presentations and the water play area in Rainforest KidzWorld are temporarily suspended and closed.

Visitors also have to book online to participate in animal-feeding sessions.

While most visitors were happy to walk in the park, the absence of trams was an inconvenience for some families with elderly folk and young children .

"My mum is 62, so walking long distances can be difficult for her. It was also difficult for my seven-year-old daughter," said Ms Jamie Joseph, 35, a therapist.

Dr Yi Sangmin, 39, who used to take his family to the zoo every month, said: "This time, we could visit only a portion of the zoo, as it is difficult to see everything without the trams.

"Every time we visited the zoo, we would ride the tram and enjoy one or two shows. That's something we missed today," added Dr Yi, a dermatologist, who was with his wife and children.

Safety measures in the parks include self-disinfecting coating on frequently touched surfaces, floor markers for safe distancing at exhibits, and cashless payments.

For the Amazon River Quest ride at the River Safari, visitors must sit in alternate seats, while those in the same group with up to five people can sit together.

A few visitors said they wished that more staff were deployed at air-conditioned exhibits, as those places attract crowds that may compromise safe distancing rules.

A visitor who wanted to be known only as Ms Hong, 40, said: "People were not really standing on the designated floor markers in the kangaroo exhibit, and there was a small crowd.

"It would be great if there was someone at the exhibit to make sure visitors respected social distancing," she added.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.