A Zoo in the Garden (City)

In 1968, just three years after Singapore’s traumatic separation from Malaysia – and despite the urgent, competing needs of a new nation – a committee was formed to study the feasibility of creating a national zoo. Ong Swee Law, the chairman of the Public Utilities Board (PUB), headed this committee. As discussed previously, many animal […]

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Zoos in Singapore’s Past

As a regional and international trading nexus, Singapore has long been a point of transit for the exotic animal trade.[1] This trade was so rampant and so widespread that the colonial government was forced to pass an ordinance in 1930 banning the trafficking of orangutans through Singapore.[2] Exotic animal collections nonetheless flourished in Singapore. Many prominent […]

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Introductions: Studying Zoos

The practice of keeping and displaying animals has existed for millennia, from the “sacred menageries” of ancient Egypt to the “zoological gardens” of the nineteenth century.[1] Over time, their role and function has varied significantly. Modern “zoological gardens”, with their emphasis on science, education, recreation and conservation are hence simply the latest incarnations of institutions […]

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The Rocks & Rivers of History

In which a comet learns another way to travel back in time. We are very used to thinking as history as static, objective accounts. We are used to thinking that the history printed in textbooks, or performed at parades, or curated at exhibitions, as authoritative, definitive versions of the past. It must be true if it […]

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Other Singapore Stories

What does the history of a Zoological Garden have to do with the history of a Garden City? Over the course of the past months and weeks, several of my friends have been asking to read excerpts of the Honours Thesis which I have written. While I am deeply flattered by the attention, I cannot […]

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