Ah Meng, Famed Primate, Has Died

Ah Meng caught the attention of many school going kids in the 1970s when she was first revealed and promoted by the Singapore Zoological Gardens. I didn't think much of it. Let's face it, an Orang Utan isn't the most graceful nor beautiful of animals. A chimpanzee is probably more huggable, as Michael Jackson would attest to, and for grace, what can beat the swan? Yet Ah Meng, the Zoo's resident Orang Utan and erstwhile long-serving Teacher and Ambassador, has developed that graceful stature that few will deny, not least among Singaporeans who literally grew up with her. Ah Meng was perhaps Singapore's first foreign talent. She originated from Sumatra, Indonesia, was seized from a family which had illegally kept her as a pet and brought to the Singapore Zoo. The rest, as they say, is history. When Ah Meng made the zoo her home in 1971, I was still a primary school student. At her death yesterday at the age of 48, I am already an adult with a family and children.

The story would be the same for EVERY Singaporean who has lived and grown up on this little island of ours. At this time, I can imagine not a few among us who would have shed a tear at the passing of such a graceful and steadfast part of Singapore. While Ah Meng has met many dignitaries in her long life, it is the common folks she would have touched, right from when they were young and starry-eyed Primary School students on their first visit to the Zoo. Thereafter, a visit to the Singapore Zoo always meant a visit to Ah Meng's place and then to the rest of the Zoo.

This blog bids farewell to Ah Meng, distinguished primate and Ambassador par excellence of the Republic of Singapore.

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