There's a saying by French poet Anatole France that goes, "Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." We couldn't agree more.
There's just something about animals that warms our hearts and evokes feelings of sentimentality and love. They inspire compassion, loyalty and contentment, and are just your all round happy pill! With World Animal Day falling on October 4, there's no better time to celebrate our furry friends than now (if you haven't already). If you have a pet, shower your love on it and give it extra dollops of hugs and smooches. If you don't, here are some spots you can visit to interact with animals.
Warning: You might suffer from a cuteness overdose.
Set in lush greenery, Farmart Centre is a rustic and charming spot away from the bustle of city life. It's the place to go for all animal lovers, especially if you want to take your time to interact with the animals up close. Housing animals such as goats, bull frogs, tortoises, rabbits and birds, there are plenty of activities to do here, including animal feeding opportunities and farm tours.
Farmart Centre is at 67 Sungei Tengah Road, tel: 6767 0070.
Chek Jawa Wetlands
Explore the six unique ecological habitats at Chek Jawa, a wetland situated on the east of Pulau Ubin, a rustic island off the coast of mainland Singapore. A lovely wonderland, it's teeming with wildlife and is one of Singapore's richest ecosystems. Here, you'll get to meet animals residing in mangroves and the coastal forest, such as birds like the Collared Kingfisher and Straw-headed Bulbul.
There are guided tours available and you can also rent a bicycle and enjoy the view at a more leisurely pace.
Chek Jawa Wetlands is at Chek Jawa Trail, Pulau Ubin.
Horse riding has been increasing in popularity amongst Singaporeans in recent years. Get up close to these majestic animals at Gallop Stable, which allows you to enjoy horse riding without worrying about high costs or membership fees. Here, you get to indulge in activities like trail rides and pony rides, or if you're serious about the sport, you can even take up riding lessons.
Besides that, you can feed the horses and bunnies and hold events such as birthday parties or corporate events at their two stables. You can even have your wedding photoshoot taken there!
Gallop Stable is at 100 Turf Club Road, tel: 6463 6012, and at 61 Pasir Ris Green Carpark C, tel: 6583 9665.
Home to over 2,800 animals representing more than 300 species, the Singapore Zoo is a given if you want to get your dose of mammals, birds, and reptiles. The array of wildlife here is extensive, so plan your trip well if you want to see all of them in one day.
From white tigers to lemurs, sun bears, komodo dragons, orangutans and more, you'll get to meet both fierce and friendly animals and can even catch them performing cool acts. Catch an elephant show or have a wet and wacky time with the zoo's cheeky sea lion. You can also feed elephants, goats, rhinos and giraffes - great for the kiddos.
Singapore Zoo is at 80 Mandai Lake Road, tel: 6269 3411
Night Safari and River Safari
Located right beside the Singapore Zoo are both the Night Safari and River Safari. The world's first safari park for nocturnal animals, the Night Safari houses 2,500 nocturnal animals across 130 species. It's similar to the Zoo - just that the whole experience will be in the dark. Explore six different zones of nocturnal creatures by tram or by the four walking trails, where you may get to interact with friendly free-roaming animals such as the Malayan flying foxes and giant flying squirrels.
Don't miss out on the famous Creatures of the Night show, where you can watch otters, binturongs, civets and many other animals display their natural talents. As for the newer River Safari, it's Asia's first river-themed wildlife park and has rivers that are inspired by some of the world's most iconic rivers such as the Nile, Mekong, and Amazon.
Housing more than 6,000 animals and 40 threatened species, you'll get to meet manatees, Indian gharials, red pandas and of course, giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia! A must-see would be the Amazon Flooded Forest where you get to observe the aquatic wildlife of a submerged Amazon.
Night Safari and River Safari are at 80 Mandai Lake Road, tel: 6269 341
Butterflies are a visual spectacle, but they're so hard to admire, considering how they flutter away seemingly at the speed of light. The best way you can do so is at the Butterfly Park & Insect Kingdom at Sentosa Island, which is home to more than 50 different species of butterflies and insects such as beetles and scorpions.
You'll be surrounded by a lush tropical backdrop of waterfalls and greenery while observing the beautiful insects - this is definitely a multi-sensory experience you don't want to miss.
Butterfly Park & Insect Kingdom is at Sentosa Island, 51 Imbiah Road, tel: 6275 0013.
Jurong Bird Park
Located in the west, Jurong Bird Park has been charming visitors since 1971, housing over 5,000 birds, ranging from ostriches to penguins and to toucans. They also have exhibitions where you can interact with the creatures in their natural habitats.
The 9-storey high Lory Loft is the park's highlight, providing visitors a treetop view and an opportunity for close interaction with stunning feathered creatures, while the Waterfall Aviary is where you'll get to watch 600 free-flying birds roam about the rainforest setting and 30-metre high waterfall.
Jurong Bird Park is at 2 Jurong Hill, tel: 6269 3411.
Love aquariums? Feel as though you're deep in the ocean at the S.E.A. Aquarium, one of the largest aquariums in the world, with 100,000 marine animals of over 800 species, including sharks, dolphins, and jellyfishes. The aquarium is divided into various zones, each featuring marine life from different parts of the world such as the Bay of Bengal and the Great Lakes of East Africa. The large aquarium tank is definitely the highlight of the whole place, where you can witness the sea creatures and feeding sessions.
Afterwards, head over to the Open Ocean Exhibit, which features a gigantic viewing panel equivalent to two rows of three double-decker buses stacked atop one another. De-stress just by watching the schools of fish and stingrays gracefully glide through the cold waters - the view will bring about a sense of calm and serenity.
S.E.A Aquarium is at Resorts World Sentosa, 8 Sentosa Gateway, Sentosa Island, tel: 6577 8888.
Gardens By The Bay
That's right, Gardens By The Bay is not just home to the eye-catching Supertree Grove and stunning trees and flowers, it also has a dragonfly and kingfisher lake, where you can learn about the area's aquatic ecosystem and even spot dragonflies fluttering near the lake surface as you stroll along a 440m boardwalk. The lakes are also facing Singapore's skyline, offering a beautiful and photographic backdrop.
Best of all, admission is free.
Gardens By The Bay is at 18 Marina Gardens Drive, tel 6420 6848.
The Animal Resort
Just a stone's throw away from Sengkang, The Animal Resort is a small zoo tucked away in Seletar West Farmway among lush greenery and koi fishing farms. Also known as Singapore's Kampung Zoo, this place doesn't just provide a little getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life, it also allows you to have a hands-on experience with feathered and furry friends - something you won't experience at the bigger zoological parks! Expect a range of rabbits, fishes, turtles, guinea pigs and birds at the resort.
In fact, they boast 11 different types of birds, including exotic ones like the Cassowary (the third tallest bird after the Emu and Ostrich) and Marabou Stork (the bird with a large pouch below its beak). Most of the animals here are allowed to roam around freely and you're more than encouraged to feed them with the food sold at the resort.
Oh, they also have a retired horse named Pin Number that you can feed. Just be careful - they say that it bites! Admission is free and don't forget your mosquito repellent!
The Animal Resort is at 81 Seletar West Farmway 5, tel: 6482 1160.
This article was first published on Her World Online