Elephant rides will no longer be offered at the Singapore Zoo from Jan 5.
Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) is phasing in a new elephant-management system at the Night Safari and zoo over the next few years.
This is to improve the animals' welfare by allowing them to spend more time in the exhibit socialising among themselves.
It will also offer elephant keepers greater safety. A bull elephant gored its keeper in 2001, but no other serious injuries have been reported since.
Under the new management system, all contact with the elephants can take place only while they are in their enclosure. Visitors must stand outside the exhibit's safety barrier.
At present, visitors to the zoo can ride elephants and catch them during special appearances.
Cheng Wen-Haur, chief life sciences officer at WRS, said: "The decision to adopt the protected contact management system was made after an internal review by our elephant managers and health-care experts, who found that this system...offers a safer work environment for the elephant keepers."
Visitors will still be able to see the elephants at the Elephants of Asia exhibit.
"I remember taking the elephant ride when I was five or six. It was an experience which I enjoyed and treasure," said Simon Tang, a 25-year-old sales executive.
"It's sad to think that children will no longer be able to enjoy the rides, although if animal welfare and staff safety will be greatly improved after this, then I think the zoo is doing the right thing."
The new system will take three to five years to implement, and involves major redesign of the exhibits.
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