Saturday, December 06, 2014

Rivers of the World - Small Yet Pretty Interesting @ River Safari [Singapore]

One key attraction in River Safari, other than the world famous Giant Pandas, was its mini showcase of the six major rivers in the world! Note the word "mini" since it would be impossible to emulate the entire river ecosystems in tiny Singapore!

1. Mississippi River
World's fourth longest river that cuts through ten American states, i still find it a challenge to pronounce its name given the many s! 

The one animal that came to mind when a person mentions river and fauna - the north American beavers which were prized for their fur and noted for their ability to build dams! 

As you can see from the above photograph, there was no one except for my dad, Alex and myself. I can so imagine the safari's first day of operation when thousands of people squeezed through this walkway. 

Role of a zoo is primarily on education and as a member of Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), this objective has never faltered. The problem is; with the prevalence of technology and the explosion of information, how many people would attempt to read the text and even remember it. 

More aquariums?!?!? This was slowly turning out to be a scaled down version of the S.E.A Aquarium! At this point, i started hearing someone calling out to us from what seemed to be a portable speaker.

As it was feeding time for the Alligator Snapping Turtles, there was a presenter on site to give an explanation! Woah, we were so lucky especially when there was no one beside us! Did seem like we were having an exclusive, private tour! 

Here's the scary looking snapping turtle, one of the largest freshwater turtle in the world. All of them had their backs to me because they were too busy grabbing food from the tongs! 

The feeder! I can see that the jaws of these turtles were extremely fast in tearing the meat away from the tong and the power was said to be so strong; it can snap off your finger! 

Within the same tank were a group of fishes with a docile and somewhat stupid / blank expression.

Known as Alligator Gars, these can grow up to three meters long and feature sharp teeth just like its namesake. I wonder what will happen when these gars in the tank reach their full grown potential. 

Since the keepers cannot let us hold the real alligator snapping turtle, guess it would pacify some to have a fake one around for photo taking.

Coming to another aquarium, which initially was thought to be just a tank filled with yellow fishes. Vibrant yet hardly interesting. Or so i thought. 

Take a closer look and say hello to the Mississippi Paddlefish! 

One unique feature about this fish was obviously its expandable jaw! For a cavity that big, it was surprising to note that it preys on the very small brine shrimps and water fleas, just like whales!

I was very impressed by this species as i have never quite seen anything quite like that! More pictures for your viewing pleasure! 

When the presenter concluded this section, her colleague brought out an adorable prairie dog! Contrary to its name, it is an enormous rodent and was kept as a pet in some countries, including Malaysia. 

2. Congo River
Deepest river in the world, boasting a depth of 220 meters! 

Said to have some of the world' most colourful fishes with over 800 species, i was more reminded of its similarity to S.E.A Aquarium and hence, wasn't fascinated with what i see.

I had eyes only for the African Dwarf Crocodile! With an inherent genetic to stop growing beyond 1.6 meter, this is one crocodile i would not run away from if i see it in the wild!

Saved by its own skin! Read further in the above pic. 

3. River Nile
Longest river in the world that flows for over 6,600 kilometers! 

There's our presenter who was a friendly, enthusiastic lady who bravely took our questions and given our lack of responses, still managed to keep her smile throughout!  Kudos! 

First thought - that's a piranha! Well, somewhat correct since this is the Giant Goliath Tiger Fish, which was also known as the piranha of Africa! Known to attack humans and a sub-species can even leap out of the water to catch its prey! 

African Arowanas - paled in comparison to the prized Arowanas of Southeast Asia, they also lacked the whiskers that exuded an expression of superiority.

Giant Puffer Fish! This was supposed to be at Congo River but for reasons unknown to me, it was moved to this tank at River Nile instead. 

Burmese python for us to touch! My fear of snake dissipated if i have other persons with me and the reptile was handled safely by the handler. 

4. Ganges River
The holiest river in the religion of Hinduism!

Indian Gharial - easily identified by its snout, there are less than 200 left in the wild with its status elevating to critically endangered in a span of just a few decades!

A predator can easily chew through a soft shelled turtle so what is the point of having a shell!?!? Due to its ability to feed on organic waste, thousands of them were bred and released into Ganges River to clean up the polluted water.

One tank was undergoing routine cleaning! 

More animals that were brought out for us to touch; the Indian Star Tortoise and the Bearded Dragon which were both rescued! Do you know the dragon wasn't as fierce as it appeared to be and was in fact known as a very calm.  

Last look of Ganges River section. 

5. Mekong River
The one nearest to us which was listed as the tenth longest river in the world. This claim seemed to have been debunked as the Wikipedia page indicated it as number 12 and not 10.

Whatever the case, the river with its origins from China was known as the "mother of all rivers" and provided food and livelihood for over 60 million people!

Could not see any crab eating macaques from this enclosure!

Nevertheless, a picture of dad so that you can roughly gauge the dimension of the enclosure. I wasn't too disappointed not to see the macaques since we had plenty of them (crab eating macaques are also called long-tailed macaques) along devil's bend near Casuarina Road.

This was one unforgettable aquarium!

It was huge and housed Mekong Giant Catfishes, Giant Siamese Carps and Giant Freshwater Stingrays! I remember watching a documentary once on these giants and a giant freshwater ray can grow up to 8 meters across!

What we had in River Safari was likely a baby.

A few interesting facts; the siamese carp was the largest of its kind and the scales were used for shuttlecocks! Which part i am not sure. The catfish doesn't have any teeth and feeds on plants!

Storks and egrets in this enclosure with a rice-field setting common in Thailand. 

I am uncertain if this red-eyed snakehead was fully grown as it was only about the size of my index finger! It might be a fish but it can live out of water for a few days and move on land using their fins! 

Lives almost its whole life in water, this snake was said to have a leathery texture. From the look of it, it doesn't seem to deviate much from a normal python!

6. Yangtze River
World's third longest river, it is also Asia's longest at 6,300 kilometers and home to the world's largest hydro-electric power station! 

The first thing that loomed in front of you as you entered would be the wall painting of a mountain in China. Quite good even though i personally find it quite amusing; might be better to have boulders replacing the extremely fake looking mountain.

I absolutely love to keep the super duper cute Yangtze Alligator, also known as Chinese Alligators as pets! The ones in the enclosure were quite young i presume since a full grown one can grow up to two meters!

Critically endangered with fewer than 150 in the wild; their meat was said to be a cure for cancer! Wonder if there is any medicinal benefit to eating panda since its number has also dropped significantly over the years. 

The girls were figuring out the location of a rare amphibian which was classified as one of China's natural treasures; the Chinese Giant Salamander! 

My colleagues who went an hour before me could not find it too and i am not surprised as it blended really well with the surrounding!

Can you see it now? Its Chinese name is translated as Wa Wa fish as it was said to vocalise like a crying child! I have yet to hear it for myself.

Sturgeons - existing for almost 200 million years, this living fossil can live for more than a hundred years and was famous for its eggs (known as black pearls) which are sold as expensive caviar. 

Last segment of Rivers of the World - Giant Panda Forest of Kai Kai and Jia Jia. Check here for more information and photographs!


Within River Safari
[Admission ticket to River Safari applies] 

To read my condensed post on River Safari
please click here!

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