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Encounter extinct animals at the Singapore Zoo

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Visitors to the Singapore Zoo will not only be able to get up close to the elephants, they may also bump into a prehistoric mammoth.

The life-size animatronic creation is one of several extinct animals in a new Valley of Giants installation, set up to educate visitors about conservation.

It features 15 animatronic replicas of prehistoric megafauna, including the giant wombat, the giant sloth and the woolly mammoth.

The largest replica is that of the giant hornless rhinoceros, which stands at 5.5m. It was one of the largest land mammals to have walked the earth.

Wildlife Reserves Singapore director of education May Lok said: "We hope to draw lessons from the past to educate the present, inculcating in children a desire to protect living megafauna threatened by extinction, such as the white rhinoceros and Asian elephant."

Scientists debate that the mass extinction of prehistoric megafauna may have been a result of either conflict with early humans or climate change.

But modern-day megafauna, Ms Lok added, are also threatened by human-induced climate change and activities like poaching.

To help visitors learn more about the zoo's Asian elephants, the wildlife park is launching a Gentle Giants Wildlife Tour.

Participants of the behind-the-scenes tour will get to interact with the elephants through a feeding session.

They can learn how keepers train the mammals for medical procedures and how the elephants receive pedicures.

The Gentle Giants Wildlife Tour costs $98 for adults and $65 for children aged three to 12.

The Valley of Giants installation is free to all zoo visitors.

Both will be available from Nov 16 to Dec 29. - THE STRAITS TIMES