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The world’s first nocturnal wildlife park lets us get up close to nocturnal creatures including (clockwise from top left) the Grey-handed Night Monkey, the Malayan Tapir, and the Tasmanian Devil. IMAGES: MANDAI WILDLIFE GROUP

Milestones In Moonlight: Night Safari Celebrates 30 Years Of Wildlife Wonders

It was 26 May 1994. On the radio airwaves everywhere, American R&B group All-4-One belted their Number 1 hit: “I swear, by the moon and the stars in the sky, I’ll be there!”

That same evening, under the same moon and stars, then-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, officially opened Singapore’s Night Safari, the world’s first nocturnal wildlife park.

“This is the only one of its kind in the world. The beauty of it is that such a facility should first appear in heavily urban and densely populated Singapore!” he said in his speech.

“The Night Safari is an excellent example of what keeps Singapore going: the willingness to think big, the boldness to seize opportunity, the readiness of Government to back up a good idea.”

Thirty years later, Night Safari houses over 900 animals representing around 100 species, with nearly 41 per cent classified as threatened. The park is dedicated to conserving endangered species and actively participates in various global breeding programmes, including those for the clouded leopard, Malayan tapir, and Sunda slow loris.

Notably, Night Safari is the first zoological institution globally to successfully breed the critically endangered Sunda pangolin under human care.

Singapore Zoo used to host night tours for its members, and these received overwhelming response. | IMAGE: MANDAI WILDLIFE GROUP

A walk down memory lane

The concept of Singapore’s Night Safari began in 1986 when the Singapore Zoo’s night tours received an enthusiastic response, indicating strong interest in night-time wildlife experiences.

In 1987, inspired by a night tour, then-PM Goh proposed regular night tours, to be called “Singapore Safari”. Concurrently, Dr Ong Swee Law and Lyn de Alwis from the Zoo team explored the idea of displaying nocturnal tropical animals in natural, safari-style habitats.

Tram rides took visitors on journeys through habitat zones in Asia and Africa – and still do. | IMAGE: MANDAI WILDLIFE GROUP

Lighting was designed to mimic moonlight while ensuring the visibility of the animals. | IMAGE: MANDAI WILDLIFE GROUP

Work begins on a world first

By 1988, plans for a 40-hectare nocturnal wildlife park next to the Zoo were set. This unique park aimed to offer an immersive night-time journey through the forest, showcasing the mysteries of nocturnal wildlife.

Between 1989 and 1993, the design focused on creating an enchanting night-time experience. Key features included naturalistic moats that made animals appear to roam freely, a tram journey through Asian and African habitats for close wildlife encounters, moonlight-mimicking lighting by Simon Corder, and walking trails for an intimate view of nocturnal animals.

The Night Safari became a pioneering attraction, bringing visitors closer to the nocturnal world in an educational and magical setting.

Then-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong (in orange) opened the world’s first Night Safari on 26 May 1994. | IMAGE: MANDAI WILDLIFE GROUP

Opening night and beyond

On 26 May 1994, Mr Goh Chok Tong officially opened the world’s first Night Safari. During the opening ceremony, he said: “Tonight, I open Night Safari with a warm feeling of pride... Night Safari is our latest example of what imagination and resourcefulness can achieve.”

From its inception in 1994, the Night Safari became an instant hit with locals and tourists alike. In its first year alone, it welcomed 760,000 guests, far exceeding the projected 400,000. The attraction has since won the Best Attraction award from the Singapore Tourism Board 13 times, and continues to captivate over a million visitors annually.

By caring for these and other species under the managed species programmes, Night Safari contributes to safeguarding the population of threatened species under human care at a global level. | IMAGE: MANDAI WILDLIFE GROUP

Night Safari was conceived with the mission of delivering profound experiences that connect people to nocturnal wildlife. Over the years, its commitment to wildlife conservation has grown stronger.

Today, Night Safari collaborates with other zoos in 26 managed species programmes, facilitating the transfer of animals for breeding based on genetic compatibility. Through these efforts, the Night Safari plays a significant role in sustaining the populations of threatened species under human care.

Find out more about the Night Safari on


👉 See What?! Two New Species And Walk-In Civet Exhibit Debut At Night Safari

June 2022 saw the opening of a new walk-in exhibit of the park’s born-and-bred-in-Singapore civet cats at the Leopard Trail. Night Safari also welcomed two new residents: the Brazilian Porcupine and Grey-handed Night Monkey.


👉 What The (Tasmanian) Devil Is That?! Carnivorous Marsupials Debut At The Night Safari

In November 2022, Four female Tasmanian Devils made their debut on the Wallaby Trail at the Night Safari, marking the first time this species had been seen in Singapore. The quartet – Crumpet, Snickers, Jesse and Panini – are housed in two spacious outdoor habitats that come with water features, rockwork and Australian plants like Eucalyptus trees and Red Flowered Silky Oak shrubs.

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