Latest TODAY column: The wildlife of Singapore
I just set up my 3-foot fish tank (yes, the one that we were told could be carried by one aquarium-store auntie) and already I fear for the lives of my Black Ghost and two discus fish, domestic animals not on any AVA Endangered Species list.
My toddler daughter, a big fan of swimming and splashing about in water, is already looking at my new bigger tank with a gleam in her eye. I see Van Kleef Aquarium, she sees River Valley swimming pool.
The wildlife of Singapore
The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) recently busted someone for illegally keeping wild animals in a Serangoon Ave 1 flat. They found 11 wild animals, including two pythons, two scorpions and a bearded dragon in this guy's flat. And they say Singaporeans are not animal lovers.
When I read the report, I knew right away that the guy did not have any small children. No wild animal would survive in a household with kids.
I just set up my three-foot fish tank (yes, the one that we were told could be carried by one aquarium store auntie) and already I fear for the lives of my Black Ghost and two discus fish, domestic animals not on any AVA Endangered Species list.
My toddler daughter, a big fan of swimming and splashing about in water, is already looking at my new bigger tank with a gleam in her eye. I see Van Kleef Aquarium, she sees River Valley Swimming Pool.
My 14-month-old boy is also fascinated with our new marine wonderland, especially the wires and tubes. I am using one of those new-fangled external bioforce filters that look like it belongs in the Van Kleef Aquarium. It is a baby boy’s wire and tube heaven. And the tubes even contain the other fun thing, water.
Of course, I bought the filter for its efficient filtration system and quiet operation, and mainly because it looks like something out of Star Trek. What’s that, my guests would ask. Oh, it is my fish tank’s Galaxy-class warp drive, I would reply.
The aquarium guy who sold me this told me it was a real bargain, because it was allegedly made by a Taiwanese firm that copied a German design, had it manufactured in China, and sold it for a fraction of the price in Singapore. So now I know that my fish tank, the Starship Lorong Ah Soo, is powered by an engine made with international expertise, sold at a promotional price.
My wife, being a woman and totally not getting it, hates the external filter. For one, it does not come in walnut colour, which is the colour of our shoe cabinets next to it. We have two of those cabinets, filled with mostly her shoes and the filter totally clashes with their colour scheme.
Besides wires and tubes, my son also has the uncanny ability to surmise the molecular structure of materials, and to zoom in on things that can be dug out with his tiny fingers.
You see, the tank sits on a layer of white Styrofoam, and because he has mutant powers, Isaac can see with his naked eye that this white layer will disintegrate into messy white bits if he uses his fingers to dig at it. So now, my Styrofoam board has little holes in it, along the edges, dug out by Styrofoam Boy.
At least he is trying to learn what the creatures in the tank are called. He calls them “shhh”, which is as far as he can manage of the word “fish”. The fish are terrified, of course, that he knows their names and where they live. But they try not to show it, by swimming as casually as they can around their new home — what my wife calls their “new condo”.
I think the AVA can help to minimize the number of people keeping illegal pets in their homes by deploying my two kids. A few hours of quality time with my children will convince any hardcore wildlife collector to give up his pastime. Surrender your wild animals or we will unleash mr brown’s two wild ones on you. And God help you if you use Styrofoam for any of your enclosures too.
I am exaggerating, of course. I am sure the kids will learn to treat animals with love and respect. The Styrofoam, I’m not so sure.
Speaking of wild animals, wow, has Joo Chiat changed or what? Geylang is no longer the place for good food and er, friendly company, it seems. I declare Joo Chiat the new Geylang!
I have never seen so many professional foreign talents offering the pleasure of their company in one place before. Such an international cast. Maybe the Government can consider building another Arts Centre there: the Joo Chiat Centre for the Arts and Full Body Massage (JCCAFBM). You know, to bring the Arts to the Heartlander.
The new centre can be shaped like a pair of durians (and going all the way, even smell like one), or a pair of melons, depending on the theme.
The JCCAFBM will bring new meaning to plays like The Vagina Monologues. Eh, and karaoke is also art, what.
And maybe one day, like when winter comes to Singapore, or hell freezes over, we can even have snowball parties held in Joo Chiat. What fun! Snowballs should be for everyone.
Here’s an idea. We can take all the exotic animals confiscated by the AVA and turn Joo Chiat into a Centre for the Arts and Full Body Massage cum Wildlife Park! Like the Night Safari, the creatures will only come out at night.
Careful don’t step on the pythons, hor.
mr brown is the accidental author of a popular website that has been documenting the dysfunctional side of Singapore life since 1997. His fish are now looking for a contractor to renovate their new home.