Singapore Travel

A Swinging Feast

“So you want to have breakfast with a monkey?”

Singapore Zoo - Breakfast with Orangutan

“Orangutan,” Mr G promptly corrected me, his eyes glaring with excitement.

The idea of sharing the first meal of the day with a primate didn’t seem palatable at first. Yet daily throngs of visitors to the Singapore Zoo pay for the privilege of sharing a meal with their endangered ape cousins. After my initial reluctance, I caved in.

At the zoo, I watched the humans feed on luscious plates of fresh tropical fruit laid out on a smorgasbord with fruit juices in tall pitchers. Admittedly, I remember little about the food. This culinary experience was more about the company.

Singapore Zoo - Breakfast with Orangutan

Once the humans were fed, one by one they were invited to join their hairy cousins at their breakfast table. The zoo keeper asked for a volunteer to demonstrate the process, and before I looked around the audience, Mr G had put his hand up in earnest. He was asked to sit beside the orangutan with her child clinging to her side. She eyed him up and down, like any other female would do, then peeled a tiny banana and put it in her mouth.

Mother and child were rather civilised. They minded their table manners, even offered Mr G a piece of fruit, which he politely declined. Ample time was given for photographs and videos to be taken by each guest. Aided by the zoo keeper, the orangutan even put her arm around each visitor for a photo opportunity.

Singapore Zoo - Breakfast with Orangutan

Regrettably, visitors today can no longer share in the same experience we enjoyed. Friends from Japan have related changes to the visit’s protocol. Orangutans are now kept in a natural enclosure close to humans but no contact is made. They remain within a distance, eating and swinging in their habitat under the guidance of the zoo keeper. Visitors can have their photographs taken in front of the enclosure as individuals or groups. The zoo charges a fee for their photographs but visitors are welcome to use their cameras free of charge.

The tour also includes visits to other parts of the zoo. For animal lovers and those with young children, it is definitely worth the visit. And for gourmands, it makes a welcome escape from the bustle of downtown Singapore.

Singapore Zoo
80 Mandai Lake Road
Singapore 729826


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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.


  • I love Oragutans. It is good that they are kept from humans I think. We went to two rehabilitation centres in Borneo. Sepilok and Semingoh (sorry my spelling might be off) It was a magnificent experience to see them swing silently in from the jungle. Awesome. I hear the Singapore zoo is quite good, we never made it there during our visit.

    • Dave and Deb – At the time we visited, Singapore zoo seemed to be more about emphasising natural habitat than putting animals on show. Seeing them in the jungle would be far better, I imagine. As much as we enjoyed getting close to them, I too think it is better that they’re kept away from the masses. Yet I feel somewhat blessed that I had the experience.