AN ICY NEW HOME FOR INUKA AND SHEBA IN THE WORKS

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NEW HABITAT FOR SINGAPORE’S POLAR BEARS WILL BE THREE AND A HALF TIMES BIGGER AND FEATURE INNOVATIVE CLIMATE-CONTROLLED FEATURES

Singapore, 27 August 2010River Safari, Asia’s first river-themed wildlife park, today released details of the new home of Singapore’s beloved polar bears, Inuka and Sheba. The 1,400 sq metre habitat will be three and a half times the size of the existing one, featuring indoor and outdoor areas from which the public can see the great white carnivores, and pools for the bears to swim in.

The polar bears’ new home will be housed within River Safari’s Frozen Tundra exhibit, which aims to educate visitors on the importance of glaciers and semi-frozen freshwater ecosystems, amongst the most threatened of the world’s biomes.

The polar bear dens and indoor areas will be climate controlled, with temperatures that simulate the Arctic north. Three viewing elevations will be available for visitors, including the hugely popular underwater view, and visitors can admire the animals through windows cut into frozen rocks.

Modelled closely after their natural habitat, Inuka and Sheba’s new home is part of WRS’ commitment in upgrading these bears’ living space. In 2006, the Animal Welfare and Ethics Committee (AWEC) decided that it was in the polar bears’ best interest for them to remain in Singapore. This decision was reached after considering the animal’s ages, their familiarity with their keepers and environment, and the uncertainty of whether other facilities would be able to provide the same high level of care that Inuka and Sheba are used to. It was also at this time that WRS started the conceptualisation of the Frozen Tundra exhibit, to further upgrade the polar bears’ habitat.

Native to the Arctic Circle, polar bears are the world’s largest land carnivore and adult males can weigh up to 650 to 700 kg. Classified as vulnerable by the IUCN, the bear occupies a narrow ecological niche and preys almost exclusively on seals. Polar bears hunt mostly on ice floes in winter months and retreating sea ice due to global warming has resulted in the diminishing of their hunting grounds and food sources. If global temperatures continue to rise, polar bears may become extinct across most of their range within a hundred years.

Some of the innovative features of Frozen Tundra include “ice rocks” where our polar bears can soak in the coolness of “freezed” rocks and also an ice cave where both Sheba and Inuka can retire to, so as to enjoy a polar siesta. The new habitat also incorporates a large freezer unit able to produce huge blocks of ice as enrichment for the bears. Natural substrates, trees, and also pools and streams will be incorporated, to provide the bears with a rich and varied home.

As construction begins on the Frozen Tundra exhibit, the polar bear enclosure at the Singapore Zoo will be closed from 30 August 2010. Inuka and Sheba look forward to seeing everyone again in 2012 with the opening of River Safari.

Visitors to the polar bear enclosure will enter through the maw of an ice cave

Visitors can sit and admire the polar bears as they enjoy their climate-controlled exhibit

Visitors can view Inuka and Sheba swimming in their icy pools through windows cut into frozen rock

Inuka and Sheba have special ice caves, waterfalls and icy pools to enjoy

WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE GROWS SPECIAL BAMBOO SPECIES IN THE PARKS

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BAMBOO CULTIVATED TO MEET SPECIAL DIETARY NEEDS OF GIANT PANDAS FROM CHINA

Singapore, 26 Aug 2010Night Safari and Singapore Zoo are home to many different types of flora and fauna, and these award-winning wildlife parks recently added a variety of new bamboo species to their collection – all cultivated in anticipation of the arrival of a male and female giant panda from China next year.

On loan to parent company Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) from the China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA), these endangered creatures will be one of the main highlights of WRS’ upcoming attraction, River Safari, Asia’s first river-themed wildlife park, which will open its doors in 2012. The 10-year collaboration is aimed at promoting the conservation of giant pandas through research and a captive breeding programme. CapitaLand has pledged a conservation donation to support this initiative.

Giant pandas have carnaisal teeth which classifies them as carnivores. However, these animals feed mainly on leaves, stems and shoots of bamboo species. As their diet is low in nutrition, they need to eat about 20 kg of food every day to meet their energy needs.

To cater to their special diet and the extensive amount of bamboo they will consume, every available space around and within the Night Safari and Singapore Zoo, as well as the neighbouring yet-to-be-completed River Safari have been converted to special plots of land for bamboo cultivation.

In the past six months, the horticulture department at WRS have been planting and nurturing four different species of bamboo, three of which are native to the homeland of the giant pandas. These include the Bambusa ventricosa (Buddha’s belly), Phyllostachys sulphurea (Ougon-Kou Chiku Bamboo), Bambusa glaucescens (Hedge bamboo) as well as Thyrsostachys Siamensis (Siamese bamboo) from Myanmar and Thailand.

“Although giant pandas can eat up to 25 types of bamboos, they are picky eaters and will only eat the species that grow in their home range. We were told that our two new charges have preferences for Siamese bamboo and hedge bamboo, as these have wide leaves and are juicier. We are planting these varieties, so that our giant pandas can enjoy locally grown bamboo, which suit their taste buds,” said Mr Melvin Tan, Assistant Director at the WRS horticulture department.

During a visit to the giant panda base in Chengdu, China, earlier this year, the WRS team even brought along the bamboos they had planted to these two giant pandas for a taste test.

To ensure an ample supply of bamboo for the giant pandas, up to 5,400 clumps need to be planted on about 8,000 sq m of land. To date, the team has successfully grown about 1,300 clumps of the four species of bamboo on their grounds.

“Besides taking care of their special dietary needs, we are also sending our curators and keepers to China for training, which will include guidance on the finer points of giant panda mating and breeding. We hope to offer the best conditions for the successful pairing of these pandas, and we hope to welcome babies during their stay here to contribute towards the conservation of this magnificent animal,” said Ms Fanny Lai, WRS’ Group CEO.

Native to central-western and south-western China, giant pandas have been driven from their natural habitats due to logging and deforestation. Bamboo – their staple diet – has also become short in supply, partly because of their peculiarity of blooming and dying at the same time. This forces the giant pandas to move to another area in search of food. Some 1,600 of them are estimated to be left in the wild, with about 200 being bred in captivity in China. Outside of China, there are 38 held in captivity, including five in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

CapitaLand and WRS are currently holding a contest to name the two giant pandas that are bound for Singapore. From now till 31 August 2010, members of the public can submit their entries at http://www.pandas.com.sg.

Bambusa glaucescens bamboo species planted behind the zoo’s nursery

Thrsostachys siamensis planted on the driveway leading to treatment plant’s main gate door

LOVING BIRDS THE FUN WAY

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JURONG BIRD PARK HOLDS SPECIAL TOURS AND A CAMP FOR THE YOUNG TO NURTURE INTEREST IN AVIAN LIFE

SINGAPORE, 17 August 2010 – The Jurong Bird Park, the largest bird park in the world, will be conducting a series of exciting and educational activities in the next few months to promote appreciation and conservation of bird life among the young.

From a rapturous encounter with birds of prey to a behind-the-scenes look at Asia Pacific’s only dedicated bird hospital, pre-schoolers to pre-teens and their families can look forward to an interesting day out with the park’s feathered friends.

The Bird Park is not only a wildlife sanctuary for 8,000 birds representing 600 of earth’s avian species, but also home to a world-class avian hospital. And now, the public can learn how park veterinarians keep the birds in the pink of health in a special tour of the hospital on 12 September. Facilities that will be open to visitors include the treatment room, X-ray facility, surgery room, avian recovery room, and pharmacy.

To celebrate Children’s Day, the Bird Park will conduct a special GO, GLOW, GROW, Challenge for pre-schoolers and primary school students from 27 September to 1 October. The two-hour programme will teach the little ones different diets of birds by allowing them to observe, smell and touch seeds and other food at the feeding stations at various locations within the park, such as the World of Darkness, Lory Loft, and Pelican Cove. There will also be an amusing magic show featuring a ventriloquist with her larger than life bird puppet every day at 10.30am at the Pools Amphitheatre to tickle their little funny bones.

In November, the Bird Park will hold its two-day Bird Quest Camp, which features two full days of activities (without a sleep over) for kids aged 6-11 years. The interactive nature of the camp will allow kids to embark on an expedition for some up close avian encounters, such as the opportunity to be trained in the ancient art of falconry. Participants will tour the newly-opened Bird Discovery Centre, and unearth the secrets of nest-making, egg-laying, and the art of taking flight. They will also find out what solitary and nocturnal birds like owls hunt for dinner under the cover of darkness. At the Breeding and Research Centre, participants will meet new hatchlings and understand how the park takes care of these feathered bundles of joy.

To register and for more information, please email amberly@birdpark.com.sg / maggieang@birdpark.com.sg or call tel: 6661 7809.

Details
Avian Hospital Behind-The-Scenes Tour
Date: Sunday, 12 September 2010
Time: Session 1 – 10.00am, Session 2 – 11.45am
Duration: 45 mins per tour
Fee: $16.00 per participant (exclusive of park admission)*
Capacity: 20 pax per session

GO, GLOW, GROW Challenge
Date: 27 September – 1 October 2010 (school bookings only), 1 October 2010 – (also open to the public)
Time: 9.00am – 3.00pm
Cost: Free (park admission charges apply)*
Age: Pre-schoolers and primary schools (bookings by schools only)

Magic Show
Date: 27 September – 1 October 2010
Time: 10.30am
Venue: Pools Amphitheatre
Cost: Free (park admission charges apply)*

Two-Day Bird Quest Camp
Date: 25 – 26 November 2010 (Thursday & Friday)
Time: 9.00 – 5.00pm
Age: 6 – 11 yrs
Cost: $120.00 per child (excludes 7% GST). 5% off for Feather Friends, Friends of the Zoo or Wildlife Unlimited / Plus Family Membership

Please note that the registration cost for the Bird Quest Camp includes admission to the park, panorail rides, conducted tours, all meals stated and materials for art and craft.

*Park admission charges:
Adult: $18.00 per person
Child (3-12yrs): $12.00 per person

Avian Hospital Behind-The-Scenes Tour

Two-Day Bird Quest Camp

Learn the ancient art of falconry

ENDANGERED WILD CAT IN TROUBLE FOR EXCESSIVE LICKING

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Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) vets treat clouded leopard’s over groomed tail tip

Singapore, 16 August 2010 – One of Night Safari’s wild cats found herself in a fix recently when she over licked the tip of her tail. Yenbai, the clouded leopard, a medium-sized cat native to Southeast Asia, was exhibiting normal feline behaviour as grooming is comforting for a cat. However, excessive licking can cause inflammation of the skin and cause it to over granulate

Fortunately, experienced vets at WRS’ Wildlife Healthcare and Research Centre (WHRC) came to 13-year-old Yenbai’s rescue and treated her tail and the underlying reason why she was over grooming her tail. During the physical examination, they found an ingrown claw which was then clipped when the cat was under sedation.

Yenbai is one of 5 clouded leopards at Night Safari. Its distinctive coat, which usually has a tan or tawny base, is marked with irregularly shaped ellipses that are shaped like clouds. This nimble tree-hunter is one of the best climbers in the cat family, with the ability to hang upside down under branches and running down tree trunks head-first while pursuing its catch. The clouded leopard is mainly found in Southeast Asia, and throughout southern China, western Malaysia, Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Indochina. It has gone extinct in Taiwan.

Fewer than 10,000 specimens exist in the wild due to habitat loss, as well as hunting for medicinal use and their beautiful coats. It is listed as vulnerable by the World Conservation Union and endangered under the United States Endangered Species Act. International trade in clouded leopards is banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITIES). Those caught smuggling endangered species in Singapore are liable to be prosecuted in court and fined a maximum of S$50,000 for each animal and/or be imprisoned for up to two years.

Yenbai was sedated during her check-up. A small wound on her tail developed after she licked it excessively. Clouded leopards have the longest upper canine teeth for its skull size of any modern carnivore, leading some to compare it with the extinct sabre-tooth cat.

During the check-up, vets at the Wildlife Research and Healthcare Centre took a blood sample, conducted an x-ray and clipped an ingrown claw. These cats are carnivores and hunt on a variety of animals including birds, squirrels, and even monkeys, deer and wild pigs.

Vets taking an abdominal radiograph. Two views are normally needed for thorough examination

JURONG BIRD PARK RELEASES RESCUED HONEY BUZZARD INTO THE WILD

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Singapore, 05 August 2010 – It’s time for a honey buzzard to fly back home to North Asia, after the Jurong Bird Park rescued and treated it since January this year. The park, which is the world’s largest bird park and one of four wildlife attractions by Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), the others being Night Safari, Singapore Zoo and the upcoming River Safari, has been treating and releasing native and migrant birds back into the wild as part of conservation efforts.

The eastern honey buzzard was found by a member of the public along the beach. The Bird Park was called as the bird appeared weak. Upon examination by the park’s vets, it was diagnosed that the bird was suffering from crop stasis, which is a condition when the crop, a pouch in the esophagus stops emptying food from it, resulting in the crop becoming distended with fermenting food and fluid. The honey buzzard’s crop became swollen as food did not move from the crop down into the bird’s first stomach. Surgical removal of the crop’s contents was performed by the vets to relieve the discomfort to the honey buzzard. They found out that the bird had eaten cooked chicken meat, onions and garlic. After surgery, the bird was tube-fed for a period of time on a liquid diet.

Having been in a stable condition for some time, the Bird Park’s Hawk Show team has been rehabilitating the honey buzzard to ensure that upon release into the wild, the bird will be able to survive on its own. Recently, a flock of honey buzzards was sighted over Singapore skies, indicating that this the migration period for them and signaling a perfect time to release this rescued honey buzzard.

“As a conservation-driven institution, the Bird Park undertakes the treatment and rehabilitation of wild birds brought to us. So far, we have released birds like the white-bellied sea eagle, zebra dove and the red-whiskered bulbul back into the wild,” said Mr Raja Segran, General Curator, Jurong Bird Park.

He added: “Wild birds which appear weak, injured or disoriented need to be attended to immediately. Jurong Bird Park is a designated rescued avian centre and we have the necessary facilities and expertise to treat injured wild birdlife. Birds generally have a different diet from humans, much less birds of prey, which are raptors. Cooked food suitable for human consumption is generally not suitable for wild birds as their diets may include live insects and small animals. Members of the public can contact us when they encounter injured or distressed wild birds and are advised not to approach injured animals directly as this may cause them to panic, causing further injuries.”

Jurong Bird Park, together with the Night Safari and the Singapore Zoo are rescued wildlife centres of choice, receiving an average of 500 animals annually. Over the last three decades, WRS parks have cared for and rescued more than 10,000 animals from all over the world, including Singapore.
Members of the public who encounter injured or distressed birds can contact Jurong Bird Park at the following numbers:

From 8.30am to 6.30pm 6265-0022
From 6.30pm onwards 6266-0638

About honey buzzards
Eastern honey buzzards are also known as Crested or Oriental Honey Buzzards. They breed in temperate and warmer climates of the Old World, and migrate from Eastern Russia (Siberia), China, Japan, South Korea and also North Korea down to Southeast Asia during winter.

Honey buzzards, almost exclusively through their range, are specialist feeders of wasp larvae. They are also known to feed on combs, pupae and adults of wasps, bees and hornets, which of course are their preferred food, hence their name. Other large insects are also taken and so are reptiles, frogs, small mammals and even birds at times. These birds have also been documented feeding on berries and fruits. Types of fruits vary according to range.

Honey buzzards are fully matured around the ages of four to five. And like in most other birds of prey, females are larger than males. Although they are mostly found singly or more often in pairs, during the migration season, they are known to migrate in numbers of up to thousands! Migratory birds fly along coastal areas so that they can ride the thermals, which rise from seas.

The cooked chicken meat, onions and garlic which were extracted from the honey buzzard’s crop.

Sutured wound on the crop of the honey buzzard. Picture courtesy of Bjorn Olesen

The honey buzzard being tube fed on a liquid diet after surgery. Picture courtesy of Bjorn Olesen

GET WILD WITH MICE AT WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

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India, 02 August 2010 – Business meetings have witnessed a paradigm shift with wildlife-themed tourism making inroads in Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) parks, which has innovated the concept of promoting business in alternative wildlife settings. Across the three parks managed by WRS, namely Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari and Singapore Zoo, and the upcoming fourth attraction, River Safari, the MICE industry is able to take advantage of the unique concept of proximity to wildlife as the main draw for an exclusive event venue.

This new form of business tourism is one of the fastest growing segments of the international tourism market. With an eye on the potential this segment brings, WRS has customised affordable plans for corporate companies like Tata AIG (India), AXA (China), Pepsico International, Exxonmobil Chemical International and 3M Asia Pacific, who choose to conduct conventions, business meetings or team building workshops in rustic settings combining leisure with business.

“Singapore is well-placed as a tourist destination, satisfying the most discerning of visitors with her food and shopping varieties, an easy-to-navigate public transport system and unsurpassed efficiency, all of which when combined also make her a preferred MICE venue for many overseas companies. WRS is strategically positioned to provide the finest destination for meetings, conventions and summits with distinctive animal appearances, which makes our unique wildlife environment a refreshing alternative to a typical urban setting. It is an experience of a lifetime,” said Ms Isabel Cheng, Director, Sales, Marketing & Communications, Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

Amongst the 25 indoor and outdoor MICE venues across three parks, Jurong Bird Park is a hillside haven unmatched in its tranquility and magical charms. Guests can dine at The Lodge on Flamingo Lake, a 3-storey glass restaurant amidst elegant pink flamingos, or even dine with penguins in A Black and White Affair, featuring 200 penguins of five species at their best parade, together with live commentary. The Bird Park’s Humboldt penguin star, Pinky, can also make an appearance for some special picture opportunities. This programme was awarded Silver at the Pinnacle Awards organised by the International Food and Events Association (IFEA).

Over at the world’s first Night Safari, guests can enjoy dining amidst rustic furnishings, soothing ethnic music and tribal dance performances at the Ulu Ulu Safari Restaurant. Separate dining areas like Ulu Court can be reserved for parties of 100. Another ever-popular package is the award-winning Gourmet Safari Express, where dinner is savoured on a specially decorated tram which goes around the lush secondary rainforest in Night Safari. Gourmet Safari Express bagged IFEA’s Gold Award in the Best New Event Category.

Early rising guests may indulge in the multiple award-winning delectable Jungle Breakfast with Wildlife at Singapore Zoo’s Ah Meng Restaurant, featuring special appearances by the orang utans. Guests who prefer the evening breeze can enjoy cocktails or dinners at Australian Outback, Pavilion by the Lake and Forest Lodge. For a dash of excitement, Lunch with Lions promises to enthrall, combining wildlife, thrills and gourmet food into one.

For more information about the MICE experiences in the parks, please contact
catering_sales@zoo.com.sg or catering_sales@birdpark.com.sg .

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