More authentic wildlife encounters at zoo?

More authentic wildlife encounters at zoo?

A visit to the Singapore Zoo could one day mean more encounters with animals right in one's path, without any visible barriers.

Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) chairman Claire Chiang said last night that the company's reputation is based on an open-concept zoo.

"Having animals walk alongside you has become a reason why tourists come to the Night Safari. In our expansion, we will follow this open-concept philosophy," she said in Mandarin. Having a personal, first-hand experience with animals will help with our conservation message, she added.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Thursday that the zoo would be made bigger and better by as early as 2020.

Zoo experts also suggest that WRS could create an "un-zoo" experience at the attraction, in which seemingly random wildlife encounters would be engineered behind the scenes.

Since former WRS chief executive Bernard Harrison said in April that he had suggested the "world- first" idea to the authorities, others have added their support.

Mr Michael Graetz, an independent zoo designer who worked on the Taipei City Zoo and is designing a new zoo in Dubai, said: "When children visit the zoo, they are taken, not necessarily by the big, impressive animals, but by the ducks in the water or the peacocks on the road right in front of them.

"It is about a sense of discovery, the feeling that you were lucky to see this. These are the stories people would tell."

Mr Vinodh Ayathan, founder of zoo design firm Wild Concepts International, said that for more dangerous wildlife such as lions, visitors could view them safely from tree-top platforms, yet feel as if they are in a national park like Malaysia's Taman Negara.

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