New orangutan free-ranging area features scenic views of the Upper Seletar Reservoir;
visitors have one more week to enjoy Ah Meng-zing activities at world-class attraction

Image 1: Sumatran orang utan Ah Meng (extreme right), Singapore Zoo’s animal icon, looks unfazed by heights as she chills out in her new free-ranging area, which overlooks the scenic Upper Seletar Reservoir. Orangutans are the award-winning zoo’s flagship species, and over 40 of them have been born here. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE, 21 June 2016Singapore Zoo introduced their flagship orangutans to a new free-ranging area earlier this month, to complement the Ah Meng-zing experience, which happens every weekend this June. Overlooking the picturesque Upper Seletar Reservoir, the new space features hammocks and interconnecting vines for the orangutans to explore. An average of five orangutans hang out in the area daily to enjoy the treetop haven, while guests walking underneath them stop to gaze in wonder at the charismatic apes above.

Guests have one final weekend to enjoy the Ah Meng-zing experience, where Singapore Zoo transforms into a living classroom to show visitors, parents and children alike, the small things they can do to help save the planet and the animals that share it. Visitors can discover and appreciate wildlife through a diverse range of activities, including meet and greet sessions with larger than life mascots, inventive craft workshops, and enlightening animal enrichment trails. For more information about the June holiday activities, visit http://www.zoo.com.sg/ahmeng-zing/

Image 2: [FRONT ROW, FROM LEFT] Bornean orangutans Binti and her baby Adi, and Nattu, lounge with [BACK ROW, FROM LEFT] Sumatran orangutans Endah and Ah Meng on the hammock at Singapore Zoo’s new orangutan free-ranging area PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE


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


Singapore, 4 April 2011 – This April, Night Safari visitors will get to see the park’s first baby elephant in nine years, when the five-month-old calf makes his first public appearance. Born on 23 November last year, this latest addition to Night Safari’s brood of endangered Asian elephants has been named ‘Nila Utama’, after the Sumatran prince Sang Nila Utama, who founded the kingdom of Singapura in 1324.

The bold and inquisitive elephant was sired by Chawang, the sole bull elephant at Night Safari, which is managed by Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS). Now 125cm tall and weighing a hefty 318 kg, it is the first elephant to be born at both Night Safari and Singapore Zoo in almost a decade. Visitors can witness the close bond between mother and baby at the Asian elephant exhibit from April onwards.

“Our four-month-old calf is growing up to be strong, curious, and independent. He is not afraid to leave his mother’s side to explore his surroundings and we have seen the little one even getting into the pool of water himself. Nila Utama is like our very own ‘Singapore son’ and we are excited for Singaporeans and tourists to get acquainted with him. WRS hopes his birth will go towards sustaining and increasing the population of Asian elephants both in captivity and in the wild,” said Ms Fanny Lai, Group CEO of WRS.

Nila Utama is the 11th addition to the family of Asian elephants at WRS, which also runs the Jurong Bird Park, Singapore Zoo and the upcoming River Safari. His mother, Sri Nandong, has raised two other males, Sang Raja (‘noble one’) in 1999 and Sang Wira (‘brave one’) in 2001.

WRS runs successful breeding programmes across all its parks, and has done particularly well with breeding endangered animals such as the pangolin, Malayan sun bear, the orang utans and many others. It works with global partners to increase the gene pool of captive animals through various exchange programmes. For example, Chawang’s semen has been sent to zoos in Australia to help facilitate artificial inseminations with elephants there.

The population of Asian elephants in the wild is dwindling fast – even more so than their better recognised counterpart, the African elephant. An estimated 30,000 to 50,000 are left in the forests of India, Sri Lanka, Laos, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Habitat loss poses the most serious threat to the future of these magnificent creatures, as a large part of their native homes are being logged and cleared for urban and agricultural development resulting in human – elephant conflict. WRS is working with Wildlife Conservation Society in mitigating this in Sumatra, Indonesia.

Photo courtesy of Bjorn Olesen
Photo courtesy of Bjorn Olesen


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