Singapore and Animals
by Mika Iwasaki
(Mitaka, Tokyo, Japan)
If I have a chance to visit Singapore, I would like to see two animal things. The first thing that I want to see is the statue of Merlion on the coast of Marina Bay. The second thing is the Singapore Zoo.
Merlion is an animal of make-believe, and the symbol of Singapore. The figure is the union of a mermaid and a lion. The mermaid body symbolizes the aspect of the harbor island of Singapore, while the lion head is an emblem of the guardian animal for Singapore.
This is the history of its guardian lion: When a prince of Malay landed on an unknown island (the present location of Singapore) after a terrible storm in the 11th century, a strange lion appeared in front of the prince, and permitted him to govern the unknown island.
By the way, when I asked a friend of mine about his impression of the Merlion statue, he didn't have much to say. After that, I heard that the Merlion statue is one of the most disappointing sightseeing spots in the world, because the statue blowing water into the sea looks boring for many tourists.
Opposite to the Merlion statue, the Singapore Zoo is a place of good repute for tourists. It is an epoch-making zoo like we have never known. The Singapore Zoo is set in the rainforest of a Nature Reserve which adopts the open zoo system, that leaves about 3000 animals (except a few dangerous animals) to move about at large.
Visitors to the zoo can not only see the animals, but also have contact with the animals. There are many attractive programs where you can spend an enjoyable time with animals, for example, animal rides (riding on an elephant or pony), breakfast with the orangutans, and so on.
People can learn the importance of Nature, the dignity of life of creatures, and have a good time with animals. Many visitors often experience a transformation in their opinion of animals.
At one time, Singapore was a treasury of wild animals. The model of the guardian lion that appeared before the prince of Malay long time ago was maybe an Indian lion living in the Malay peninsula area.
After being able to touch a lot of semi-wild animals in the Singapore Zoo as if in a rainforest in the old days, we might be able to have a new understanding of the popular fascination toward Merlion.
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