Technically, this is not a real safari. The first section of River Safari is really just a long walk divided into 7 different zones that represent different rivers of the world. Each zone has 2-3 glass tanks containing a few key species unique to the region.
The Good: Some of the species displayed are quite interesting and not something that we get to see quite often. If you’ve always thought that there’s more diversity to be found in the ocean, these river-dwellers might make you change your mind.
Needs Improvement: I find the entire River Safari to be a little understaffed. There’s no one to turn to if you need to ask anything. Some tanks were very dirty, some had dead specimens. It gives the impression that the whole attraction is under-managed.
Also Noteworthy: Unlike most aquarium-based attractions, the glass panels in River Safari are placed outdoor, perhaps to mimic the animals’ natural habitat where sunlight penetration is quite abundant. While this is a refreshing change, getting decent animal shots is not an easy job with all those light reflection in the glass panel.
Now that I’ve gotten those beaten off my chest, we can let the journey begins now…
Our journey started in North America’s largest river system, and it started with a bang. Greeted by two busy swimming beavers, our attention was won right away.
This section also displayed interesting animals like alligator snapping turtle (which was shy and loved to hide), Mississippi paddlefish (has very distinctive elongated snout) and my favorite alligator gar.
Look at those teeth… this primitive fish is badass and can grow up to 3 m long!
From North America, we traveled to Africa’s Congo River. The world’s deepest river goes beyond 220 m!
This is a small section and the star attraction is supposed to be giant freshwater puffer, which was still missing at the time of our visit. Instead, we have a tank full of colourful cichlids and tetras which inhibit the shallower parts of the river.
The most interesting thing we saw is a pair of African dwarf crocodiles.
This species attains a medium adult length of only 1.5 m. They are said to be quite timid and nocturnal, which is kinda true as they were just stoning there doing nothing. Seems like a relatively tame crocodile, not that I’ll ever keep them as pets!
Crossing through 11 different countries with total length of 6,650 km, Nile River is the world’s longest river. By that logic, one would expect many things to be discovered here, but here in River Safari, there are only three species.
There are African arowanas who swim near the surface, sharp-tooted tigerfishes that roam a little deeper and giraffe catfishes scraping the bottom of the river to feed.
Revered by followers of Hinduism, this river flows through India and Bangladesh. And it’s home to HUGE, SCARY Indian gharials whose origins can be traced back to the dinosaur age.
To give you a sign of just how HUGE it really is, see the picture below, and that’s just the tail! Also, is Ganges River supposed to be that green? It’s virtually impossible to spot these predators! Tell you what, I’m never ever going anywhere near Ganges River.
We’ve reached Australia’s longest river. I don’t remember seeing much here. There’s Australian lungfish, red clawed crayfish and there’s supposed to be murray cod but I couldn’t find it. Kind of boring, actually.
Walk a little further towards South East Asia and there’s a tank full of crab-eating macaques. These little monkeys are very fun to watch. They dive easily to the bottom of flooded mangrove to catch their aquatic diet, definitely better swimmers than me.
Next is my favorite. It’s a huge display aquarium full of Giant Mekong Catfishes. They are the largest freshwater fish with a record growth of 3.2 m long and weighing up to 300 km. Below picture is supposed to be a closely-related species called High-Fin Catfish, but they all really look the same to me.
The journey ends in China’s Yangtze River.
There’s supposed to be cute baby Chinese alligators and magnificent giant salamanders. But I’m not sure what’s going on here, because all we could find is an elephant trunk snake that is native to Australia and South East Asia.
Perhaps the Yangtze section was closed that day. But we weren’t too disappointed about it because a star attraction is next. Continue to Giant Panda Forest and Wild Amazonia for more amazing river experience.
How do you find River Safari so far? Which river is your favorite?