Learn about nature and wildlife indoors.
We’ve been telling you about all the nature spots in Singapore you should visit but if you hadn’t had much luck in spotting any wildlife, head over to the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum where you can view over 2,000 natural history specimens from Singapore and around the region. We’re talking about taxidermy, tree slices, meteorite and even fossils.
To help you explore Singapore’s first and only permanent natural history exhibition within its two permanent galleries, here are some things you should look out for.
The gallery on the first floor covers the diverse groups of life form on earth, from plants, fungi, birds, marine cycles, fish, mammals and even dinosaurs. Plus, keep a look out for flora and fauna specimens from Southeast Asia.
Some of the items on display are over 100 years old and you can spot them with the “100” icon.
Some of the exhibits are meant to be touched but most are not. Look for the palm icon in green and put your hands on an elephant skull (pictured) or dinosaur bone!
Dinosaur fossil skeletons
It’s hard to miss this exhibit right in the middle of the museum. Say hello to Apollonia, Prince and Twinky — the three dinosaurs which were unearthed in Wyoming, USA. Dinosaur experts are actually still studying to confirm the species they belong to. Here’s what they probably looked like when they roamed the earth:
And oh, the Dinosaur Light Show comes on about twice every hour.
Besides dead animals and bones on display, there are two little aquariums to observe some mudskippers (pictured) and fish.
This huge reptile was captured around Serangoon more than a 100 years ago, and you may encounter this species of crocodile during your visit to the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.
In July 2015, a female Sperm Whale was found dead off Jurong Island. The 10.6 metre creature had a large gash on its back and the cause of its death has not been verified. It took 70 days to dissect the whale and preserve its skeleton (pictured).
This is definitely my favourite display in the museum. And as much as it is a fascinating exhibit, it was also heartbreaking to learn that they found plastic items and other marine trash (pictured) inside it, and that meat from hunted whales is still sold commercially, despite a global ban on commercial whale hunting.
Make your way up to the second floor and delve into the museum’s history stretching all the way back to Stamford Raffles’ efforts to learn about the nature and biodiversity on the island.
The exhibit has cabinet doors and drawers for you to discover and one of them shows you the taxidermy tools and processes involved during research and to make a museum like this possible.
Don’t miss the outdoor area of the museum where you’ll find a phylogenetic garden featuring native plants of different plant groups. And if you didn’t get enough of the mangrove forests at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, check out the mangroves here! You can also find plants from freshwater swamps and dryland rainforests.
I walked away from my visit with deeper appreciation for Mother Nature and a better understanding of why we need to have nature reserves and parks in Singapore before it all vanishes due to rapid urbanisation, and it’s definitely a good place to visit to complement your nature walks around the island.
It should take you an hour and a half to two hours to cover the whole Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum but if you still need your museum fix, just hop over to the NUS Museum next door.
Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum is located at 2 Conservatory Drive (within the National University of Singapore).
By Muneerah Bee, June 2016
Photos by Muneerah Bee