Singapore Zoo’s well-known orangutan lives on as her granddaughter steps into her footprints; New icon said to resemble grandmother in her younger days, exhibits traits of a matriarch

Image 1 [LEFT] Formerly known as Ishta, the new Ah Meng steps boldly into her grandmother’s footprints to continue the legacy left behind by the original icon.

Image 2 [RIGHT] Ah Meng’s first role as the newly crowned ambassador of Singapore Zoo was to cast a handprint in clay for posterity. Mr Alagappasamy Chellaiyah, Primate Specialist, Singapore Zoo (left), Mr Mike Barclay, CEO, Wildlife Reserves Singapore (centre) and Mr Kumaran Sesshe, head keeper, great apes, Singapore Zoo proudly show off Ah Meng’s handprint. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Singapore, 26 February 2016 – Ah Meng lives on at Singapore Zoo, as the much-awaited animal icon was revealed today ahead of Safari Zoo Run 2016, a race originally conceptualised to honour Singapore’s favourite orangutan. Formerly known as Ishta, the new queen of the jungle will officially begin her reign as Singapore Zoo’s animal ambassador.

The first Ah Meng was Singapore Zoo’s famous matriarch and one of Singapore’s most adored personalities. As a critically endangered Sumatran orangutan and one of the most iconic in the Zoo’s collection, Ah Meng was an excellent ambassador for her species and all threatened animals. Her role as Singapore’s first non-human tourism ambassador brought fame to Singapore Zoo and in turn, helped open people’s eyes to the plight of orangutans in the wild.

Although she passed on in 2008, she left behind many legacies, in the form of her offspring and their kin, and the passing on of her nurturing qualities as a super mom to the younger orangutans. She is survived by six family members in Singapore Zoo

Ishta is the natural choice and the perfect candidate to carry on Ah Meng’s name. Aside from having a strong resemblance to her famous grandmother, she exhibits the makings of a matriarch—patience, tolerance towards the other orangutans, and a friendly personality.

Born on 8 March 2011, she is the first offspring of Ah Meng’s late daughter Sayang and Galdikas, a male orangutan from Frankfurt Zoo. When Sayang fell ill, Ishta was fostered by her cousin Chomel who was then raising Bino, her biological son. Ishta also has a biological sister, Endah.

Like her grandmother, she savours durians and is a sociable and affectionate orangutan, both towards her kind and her keepers. Her best friend is Bino, and the pair is often seen wildly traversing the vines and branches of the free-ranging orangutan habitat together. She takes after her grandmother not just in appearance but has the same appreciation for cleanliness.

Mr Mike Barclay, CEO, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said, “Orangutans have been synonymous with Singapore Zoo from the day our gates opened. No story about Singapore Zoo is complete without a mention of these charismatic apes, with Ah Meng being the greatest of them all. It is fitting that her legacy endures through her kin, so we can continue talking to people about the threats facing Asia’s only great ape and seek to inspire them to take action to help conserve our orangutans’ wild cousins.”

Mr Alagappasamy Chellaiyah, former Zoology Assistant Director and lifelong caretaker of Ah Meng, said, “Many Singaporeans shared a special love story with Ah Meng for over three decades, and I’m privileged to have been her keeper since the day she arrived. Till today, people come up to me and say they remember Ah Meng, not just locals but tourists as well. It is hard to believe that she had such a great impact on so many people. I’m thrilled that Ah Meng’s name, and legacy, will live on through Ishta.”

While the new Ah Meng may have big footprints to fill, she seems to be taking it all in her stride. Although still young, she is already accustomed to engaging guests during Singapore Zoo’s signature dining programme—Jungle Breakfast with Wildlife, and looks set to swing into the hearts of Singaporeans in years to come.

To celebrate the crowning of the new queen, a series of illustrations which captures the various facets of her personality has been developed. These depict her in various poses and should further endear the new Ah Meng to people of all ages.

Singapore Zoo is home to 27 orangutans, eight of which are Sumatran while the rest are of the Bornean species. The population of Sumatran orangutans in the wild is estimated at fewer than 7,000, making this species critically endangered. Borneans number about 50,000 in the wild and are listed as endangered

The park’s highly successful global conservation breeding programme has seen more than 40 births in the past 42 years. Of these, some have been sent to various zoos in Malaysia, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Sri Lanka as part of a global exchange programme.

Wildlife Reserves Singapore, which manages Singapore Zoo, supports several in-situ orangutan conservation projects in Kalimantan—either through funding, staff expertise, or provision of much-needed veterinary supplies and equipment. To help further preserve orangutan habitats in the wild, all food and beverage outlets in Wildlife Reserves Singapore parks use only sustainable palm oil.

Ah Meng will meet visitors four times weekly at Jungle Breakfast with Wildlife, and also at selected photography sessions. Outside these activities, Ah Meng can be spotted swinging about or chilling in the free-ranging orangutan habitat.

Image 3 [LEFT]: Ah Meng shares a tender moment with Mr Kumaran Sesshe, Head Keeper of great apes, Singapore Zoo. She will turn five years old this March, and is the granddaughter of the first Ah Meng, who died of old age in February 2008.

Image 4 [RIGHT]: The newly crowned Ah Meng will meet visitors four times weekly at Jungle Breakfast with Wildlife and at selected photography sessions. Outside these activities, she can be spotted swinging about or chilling in the free-ranging orangutan habitat. The critically endangered Sumatran orangutan is the new animal ambassador of Singapore Zoo. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE


Learn how to help our animal friends in ninth installment of Singapore Zoo’s wildly popular event

At the Rubbish Raft station, learn how you can help reclaim the habitat for wildlife by keeping rivers free from trash.
At the Rubbish Raft station, learn how
you can help reclaim the habitat for wildlife by
keeping rivers free from trash.

Singapore, 8 May 2013 — Zoolympix is back with a resounding bang in 2013! This time, each participant is transformed into a “Rescue Ranger” and gets to learn first-hand how habitat destruction and poaching are driving many animals to extinction. Leaping into its ninth year, Zoolympix will feature six exhibits in the zoo that will double up as interactive game stations. This series of challenging “rescue missions” will test young rangers’ memory, accuracy and agility.

With the zoo also celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, nuggets of historical knowledge will be incorporated into a journey that will both educate and entertain. Participants will learn little-known trivia about some of the zoo’s landmark moments since its opening in 1973.

In addition, stand to win attractive lucky draw prizes that include wildly popular zoo experiences. First prize is a one-year Friends of the Zoo Family membership and 2D1N Sleep with the Beasts Camp, worth over $800 for a family of two adults and two children; second prize is a 4-in-1 Park Hopper family package for two adults and two children and a 3-day Zoo Explorer Camp for one child worth over $600; and third prize is a 3-in-1 Park Hopper and Jungle Breakfast package for two adults and two children worth over $300. Top three winners also win a year’s subscription to Wildlife Wonders, Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s in-house magazine.

Pop into the awareness booth to find out more about endangered local wildlife, and learn what the ‘real’ Rescue Rangers at Wildlife Reserves Singapore parks (meaning the keepers) do to protect these animals. If you’re lucky, you might even get to meet a pangolin! While you’re there, indulge in a spot of face-painting or badge-making. Young readers are also free to browse our educational publications — available in English and mother tongue—and newly-published books about pandas.

Learn more about threatened wildlife at the Zoolympix Awareness Booth, and you might even get to meet a pangolin!
Learn more about threatened wildlife at
the Zoolympix Awareness Booth, and you might
even get to meet a pangolin!

Date: 1 – 9 June 2013 (Daily)
Time: 10am – 4pm
Venue: Singapore Zoo, 80 Mandai Lake Road, Singapore 729826
Fee: $3 per Zoolympix passport, Available at the registration tent at the start of Treetops Trail (in front of the bird photography area)
Notes: Normal admission rates of $22.00 (adult) and $14.00 (child 3 to 12 years) apply. Zoolympix activities are recommended for children between 5 and 12 years old

Rescue Ranger Stations
On Thin Ice
Venue: Frozen Tundra
Climate change is causing the Arctic ice to melt! Help a polar bear find its lunch by hopping between fragmented “ice” pieces to pick up as many seals as possible within 30 seconds.

Seed Seekers
Venue: Tropical Crops (Pavilion opposite Cat Country)
In a world where deforestation is rampant, Rescue Rangers must collect and save the seeds of tropical plants which could be in danger of extinction. Track down plants in the Tropical Crops exhibit and “collect” their seeds by making a shading from the embossed plaques next to them.

Forest Storeys
Venue: Fragile Forest
The first step in wildlife conservation is to understand it better. Test your memory and learn more about animals and their rainforest homes by placing the creatures in the correct layer of their rainforest habitat in 30 seconds.

Rubbish Raft
Venue: Rainforest Kidzworld (Tugboat area)
Make a difference for the many fish, birds, frogs, and other wildlife friends by helping to keep rivers clean. In 30 seconds, scoop out floating rubbish in the water while standing on a raft and do your bit to reclaim the habitat for these river dwellers!

Penguin Eggs-pedition
Venue: African penguin exhibit
African penguins have nowhere to lay their eggs, now that the guano they use as nesting material has been harvested for fertiliser! In 30 seconds, sort penguins’ eggs into colour-coded “igloos” that ingenious scientists have provided as shelter for the eggs.

Stop Those Smugglers!
Venue: Sun bear exhibit
The smallest bear in the world needs to be saved from poachers! Stop sun bear smuggling by ringing in the pesky poachers. Toss rings over as many cone ‘smugglers’ as possible in 30 seconds.


“I ♥ Singapore Zoo” fan photo contest to be launched on 40th anniversary celebrations microsite.

Have such photos In your albums? Share them with us, for a chance to win a wild day out at Singapore Zoo.
Have such photos In your albums? Share them with us, for a chance to win a wild day out at Singapore Zoo.

Singapore, 28 March 2013 — Singapore Zoo’s 40th Anniversary celebrations continue, with the launch of an “I ♥ Singapore Zoo” fan photo contest.

From 29 March – 30 April 2013, Singapore Zoo invites all its Facebook fans to dust off their photo albums and share their favourite photo memory during a zoo outing to recount the zoo’s journey through the last 40 years.

Participants can enter the contest via the newly launched Singapore Zoo 40th anniversary celebrations microsite: It is open to everyone who is a Wildlife Reserves Singapore Facebook fan. Each fan may make unlimited submissions, but each photo can only be submitted once, and has to be accompanied by a caption to be eligible for a prize.* Winning photos will be unveiled on a photowall in June 2013.

Ten lucky winners will win a dining experience for two at Singapore Zoo’s Jungle Breakfast with Wildlife in June. Participants also stand to win Singapore Zoo admission tickets to re-live their memories in the park.

Singapore Zoo is one of four wildlife attractions managed by Wildlife Reserves Singapore, with the others being Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari and the upcoming River Safari. The Zoo is also a designated rescued wildlife centre by the governing authority.

For more information and the latest updates on Singapore Zoo’s 40th anniversary celebrations, visit, or

*Terms and conditions are available at the Singapore Zoo’s 40th anniversary celebrations microsite and Wildlife Reserves Singapore Facebook page.

I ♥ Singapore Zoo
I ♥ Singapore Zoo



Singapore, 30 Jul 2012 – Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s parks will be celebrating the nation’s birthday with a month-long promotion in August. Singaporeans and Permanent Residents born in the same month as Singapore will be offered free admission at Jurong Bird Park and Singapore Zoo. To redeem, simply flash your identification card at the respective ticketing counters.

Details at a glance:
Date: 1 – 31 August 2012
Time: 8:30am – 6:00pm
Venue: Singapore Zoo and Jurong Bird Park

Terms and conditions:
• Valid from 1 – 31 Aug 2012
• Valid for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents only
• Proof of identity required
• Not valid with other offers and online purchase. Redemption valid at point of purchase only
• Promotion is only valid at Jurong Bird Park and Singapore Zoo
• Offer is not exchangeable for cash
• Does not include tram ride at Jurong Bird Park and Singapore Zoo

National Day is the perfect time to spend with loved ones, so why not make it a family affair with our array of activities for every age?

Jurong Bird Park Highlights
Take the kids to the Birdz of Play area at Jurong Bird Park, where they can flap their imaginary wings at Singapore’s only bird-themed playground. Cool off in the tropical heat at the wet play area, which even comes with a giant tipping bucket that will get them wet and wild!

Fancy an educational but equally fun activity? Take them to the newly opened Breeding & Research Centre, where you’ll find out all about the breeding and nursing processes that take place at the Bird Park.

Explore the various delights that the Bird Park has to offer, from the majestic African Waterfall Aviary with over 1,000 free-flying native African birds to the Lory Loft, where birds will quite literally eat out of your hands! Also not to be missed is the Kings of the Skies show, which will take you back in time to appreciate the ancient medieval art of falconry.

Have these colourful winged wonders quite literally eating out of your hands at the Bird Park’s Lory loft.
The newly opened Birdz of Play offers hours of splashing-good fun!

Singapore Zoo Highlights
Make getting up early a joyous affair with Singapore Zoo’s Jungle Breakfast with Wildlife. This programme allows visitors to come up close and personal to animals such as elephants and orang utans, or even pet a snake – all this while enjoying a sumptuous buffet breakfast with an international spread. After filling yourselves up, embark on a journey into the world’s best rainforest zoo, with open-concept exhibits that allow you to come even closer to nature.

Dine alongside animals like the orang utan at Singapore Zoo’s Jungle Breakfast with Wildlife programme.

Watch our orang utans having fun at their free-ranging exhibit – the largest of its kind in the world. Equipped with vines and branches to allow them to swing around freely, the exhibit also has platforms and hammocks, which stimulate these highly intelligent apes mentally. Step into the Fragile Forest, where you’ll be greeted by creatures such as ring-tailed lemurs, flying foxes, mousedeer and sloths, all at arms-length!

Watch our free-ranging orang utans live and play at their exhibit.
Come up close to our Madagascar natives, the ring-tailed lemurs at the Fragile Forest.


Singapore, 14 March 2011 – The legacy of Singapore Zoo’s most iconic resident, Ah Meng, continues to grow with the recent birth of her first great grandson earlier this year. Chomel, Ah Meng’s granddaughter, gave birth to the male orang utan on 31 Jan at about 4.20am. Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) is inviting Singaporeans to pick his name via an online voting system on Facebook.

The Zoology team at the Singapore Zoo has shortlisted four names for the newborn and is asking members of the public to choose their favourite. The names are:

1. Ah Boy: A common term of endearment for many boys at home in Singapore
2. Bino: Meaning ‘Brave’ in Bahasa Indonesia
3. Terang: Meaning ‘Bright’ in Malay
4. Xing Xing: In Chinese, this means both ‘star’ and ‘ape

The contest on the WRS Facebook page is open to everyone who is a fan of the page. Voting will end 31 March 2011 and the name which earns the most number of ‘likes’ on Facebook will be the chosen name for the baby orang utan.

A lucky participant will be selected at random from the winning votes and will win a dining experience for five at Singapore Zoo’s Jungle Breakfast with Wildlife. The winner will also have the opportunity to take an exclusive photo with mother and baby.

The little orang utan made his public debut in February during Jungle Breakfast with Wildlife with mother Chomel, and will make regular appearances at this special wildlife breakfast programme. Singapore Zoo, operated by WRS which also runs other award-winning parks such as the Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari, and the upcoming river-themed attraction River Safari, is the only zoo in the world that offers this unique dine-with-wildlife experience, which allows visitors to get up close to animals like orang utans and snakes during a breakfast buffet.

In celebration of the baby orang utan’s appearance on Jungle Breakfast with Wildlife, one child dines for free with every two paying adults from now until 20 March 2011.

The newborn is the 36th orang utan and the fourth descendant of Ah Meng to be born at Singapore Zoo. Keepers say he is a very amiable and expressive baby, and always looks like he has a smile on his face.

A total of 26 of these charismatic apes live at the zoo and are displayed as a large social group in a spacious naturalistic enclosure. Singapore Zoo is the first zoo in the world to create free-ranging areas for these arboreal creatures to swing, climb and play. These exhibits comprise tall trees, thick branches, abundant foliage and vines which replicate the animals’ natural environment.

There are two species of orang utan – Bornean and Sumatran. The population of Bornean orang utan is estimated at 55,000 while there are only 7,500 Sumatran orang utan left in the wild, making this species critically endangered. Ah Meng was a female Sumatran orang utan that was smuggled illegally into Singapore and given a home at the Singapore Zoo in 1971. She lived to a ripe old age of 48 (or approximately 95 orang utan years) and was the first to host the Zoo’s Breakfast with Ah Meng programme.

To vote, please visit:

Chomel gently cradles her son, the first Sumatran orang utan to be born at Singapore Zoo in more than a decade. Photo courtesy of Bjorn Olesen
Chomel and her newborn