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Animal Attractions


The new River Safari ( that opened in December at Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) is the latest and arguably one of the most immersive of various boat rides operating at zoos and animal parks around the world. Billed as Asia’s first river-themed wildlife park, the S$140 million (US$110m/€80m) attraction opened in December and boasts the continent’s largest collection of freshwater flora and fauna – 500 species and over 5,000 specimens to be exact – and was created within the lush jungles fringing Mandai Lake. At its heart is a Slow Boat ride system from Intamin, which was designed by the Swiss firm in order to meet the special requirements of WRS, which also operates Singapore Night Safari, Singapore Zoo and Jurong Bird Park. “In recent years, habitat loss and degradation, water extraction, over- exploitation and pollution have come to threaten the planet’s freshwater ecosystems and their associated biological resources,” explains (Mr) Lee Meng Tat, CEO at WRS. “River Safari was developed to bring visitors up-close to the fascinating underwater and terrestrial animals that live in such ecosystems.” Passengers on the boat ride are taken on a 14-minute voyage across the globe, viewing the wildlife and habitats of iconic rivers. from the Mississippi to the Amazon. Featured along the route are over 30 animal species including the jaguar, Brazilian tapir, capybara and giant anteater. Creation of the ride required minimal modification of existing site terrain and minimal impact on the trees and environment at Wildlife Resorts Singapore. Water currents guide the boats through a concrete channel at an average speed of 0.8 metres per second. To simulate the experience of an expedition along a river, two gentle plunges of approximately 2 metres each are built into the 483m water course. In total 19 boats are in use on the attraction, each seating up to 15 passengers.

A transport system used by several other animal attractions is Intamin’s Tow Boat Ride, which can be constructed around an existing body of water using a noise-free cable drive – allowing passengers to experience the joy of “discovering” animals without overtly bothering them. The system is already in use at zoos in three German cities. At Zoo Gelsenkirchen, guests are able to discover the “entire African continent” in just 15-minutes on a 1.8km boat trip covering 14 hectares. During the voyage, guests are able to encounter not just hippos, pelicans and flamingos, which are part of the wet vegetation, but also, rhinos, zebras and antelopes in the dry area. On Zoo Hannover’s Sambesi Bootsfahrt, the wildlife includes hippos, flamingos, marabous, zebras, gazelles, antelopes, rhinos, meerkats, wild asses and giraffes. Meanwhile at Zoo Leipzig, the Tow Boat Ride has been installed under a covered area larger than two football pitches, where 90 exotic animal species and approximately 500 different plant and animal species are feature from three continents. Last season the Columbus Zoo ( in America integrated a different kind of creature into its old OD Hopkins boat ride in the Australia and Islands region of the zoo – 27 “dinosaurs”! As a result of the addition to the attraction, which also allows passengers to view gibbons, komodo dragons, Asian otters, orangutans and other species, ridership has rocketed from 162,000 to 382,000, creating close to $1 million of revenue for the zoo. So while on this occasion it wasn’t real animals that were the main attraction, the success experienced at Columbus nevertheless demonstrates the potential impact amusement rides can have on a zoo’s bottom line. At Flamingo Land ( in North Yorkshire, England, animals have been part of the experience since day one – as its name suggests. As well as walking round the park’s fully functioning zoo, visitors can also encounter the animals on attractions such as the Lost River Ride. This gentle riverboat safari takes guests on a meandering voyage packed rhinos, giraffes, lions, zebra and more. The experience, featuring a conveyance system by Bear Rides, culminates with a 60ft (27m) plunge into a splash pool below. Best of all though we really love Flaming Land’s park motto – “Wild Animals, Wilder Rides” – the perfect embodiment of its theme park meets zoo credentials.


Singapore Zoo’s new River Safari

The Tow Boat Ride by Inatmin at Zoo Leipzig in Germany

Columbus Zoo’s dinosaur ride brought in almost $1 million revenue last year

Flamingo Land’s (England) Lost River Ride JANUARY 2014

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