AFRICAN PENGUINS COME MARCHING INTO PENGUIN COAST

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JURONG BIRD PARK LAUNCHING WILDLIFE ON THE COAST ATTRACTION

SINGAPORE, 29 September 2010 – Experience an eco-haven with the feel of an African coastline right here in Singapore when the Jurong Bird Park launches its coastal wildlife habitat, Penguin Coast, this December.

For the first time at the Jurong Bird Park, there will be an outdoor enclosure featuring African Penguins. Also known as Jackass Penguins for their distinctive loud braying calls, they are one of the few species of penguins that live in tropical conditions and are commonly found on the South Western coast of South Africa.

African penguins grow to 68–70 cm (26.7–27.5 in) tall and weigh between 2 to 5 kg. They have a black stripe and black spots on the chest, the pattern of spots being unique for every penguin, like human fingerprints. They also spot pink glands above their eyes that get more pink in colour the hotter the penguin gets.

Visitors can view simulated waves created by artificial wave making machines crashing against a shoreline where marsh birds native to South Africa, like the Cape Shelduck or South African Shelduck, large goose-like birds with wings strikingly marked with black, white and green, paddle in the waters.

The Penguin Coast will also be home to gulls. These are medium to large coastal birds, usually grey or white, with black markings on the head or wings and longish bills with webbed feet. Gulls are famous for their aerial acrobatic maneuvers in the wild when hunting for food in the open sea.

Take a quick march down to the Jurong Bird Park this December holidays for a tropical penguin encounter!

African Penguin - Photo courtesy of Bjorn Olesen

SINGAPORE AIRLINES IS THE OFFICIAL AIRLINE FOR GIANT PANDA COLLABORATIVE PROGRAMME

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SIA CARGO TO TRANSPORT PANDAS TO SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE, 22 September 2010 – Singapore Airlines has been named the Official Airline for the Giant Panda collaborative programme between Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) and the China Wildlife Conservation Association. WRS and Singapore Airlines have signed a sponsorship agreement under which the Airline will transport the pandas to Singapore and provide air tickets for training and exchange programmes.

Under the agreement, Singapore Airlines Cargo will operate a special freighter flight to transport the pair of pandas from Chengdu to Singapore in the second half of 2011. Air tickets will also be provided on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir flights, primarily for the training and familiarisation needs of the teams of zookeepers, veterinarians and researchers from both Singapore and China.

“As the Official Airline for the Giant Panda programme, Singapore Airlines is honoured to play our part in promoting the conservation of these endangered gentle giants, which will enhance awareness and understanding of wildlife conservation. This underscores our strong belief in participating in programmes that have a tangible and sustainable impact on the well-being of our planet and its inhabitants,” said Mr Bey Soo Khiang, Singapore Airlines’ Senior Executive Vice President Marketing and Corporate Services.

“We are also proud to contribute to the further development of the strong bilateral ties between Singapore and China.”

A team from WRS recently visited the Ya’an and Chengdu panda bases in China in preparation for the pandas’ arrival. On the training trip, the team that will be looking after the Giant Pandas learnt from their Chinese counterparts the husbandry and nutrition needs as well as veterinary care of pandas. They also observed the management of panda births and were trained in the care requirements of young pandas. These two facilities account for most of the panda births worldwide.

“The arrival of the Giant Pandas to Singapore is a momentous event. We are pleased that Singapore Airlines has come on board as the Official Airline to provide the support needed to bring them here from China. The sponsorship also serves to bring conservationists from China and Singapore together in a bid to improve wildlife conservation management and promote eco-tourism development. Ten wildlife experts from China will spend two weeks training at WRS once every two years while our zoologists and veterinarians will conduct in-situ conservation and research in China,” said Ms Fanny Lai, WRS’ Group CEO.

“WRS believes that this partnership with SIA will be of great benefit to the conservation of endangered wildlife in the region and we look forward to continuing our mission in wildlife education.”

Singapore Airlines’ sponsorship of the Giant Pandas programme is its second involvement in a major conservation project. In August, Singapore Airlines announced a US$3 million donation towards the protection and restoration of the 100,000-hectare Harapan Rainforest in Sumatra, Indonesia.

WRS is the parent company of Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari and Singapore Zoo. The Giant Pandas will be on loan from China and will be housed at the River Safari, which is scheduled to open in the first half of 2012. It will be the world’s first and only river-themed wildlife park and the newest addition to WRS’ portfolio of award-winning parks.

SINGAPORE ZOO WELCOMES FIRST SIAMANG BIRTH IN 17 YEARS

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Singapore, 17 September 2010 – The Singapore Zoo recently welcomed a baby siamang early this year on 15 March, marking the first successful birth in 17 years.

Born to parents Anna and Elmo, the six-month-old baby belongs to a sub-species of gibbons, which are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity due to their solitary and monogamous nature.

“This first-born by Anna demonstrates Singapore Zoo’s success in conserving a sustainable population of endangered animal species in captivity,” said Biswajit Guha, Director, Zoology, Singapore Zoo. “We have also bred other endangered primates such as the orang utan, proboscis monkey and Douc langurs. And now, visitors to the park can spot the baby siamang at its Treetops Trail exhibit, while enjoying the calls made by the other siamangs in the morning.”

Siamangs are the largest of the lesser apes and are found mostly in the forests of Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula. They are typically black in colour with reddish-brown eyebrows and have webbings between their second and third toes. Another unique trait of the siamang is the amazingly loud vocal sound it makes which includes booms, hoots and barks. These sounds are amplified to ear-splitting levels by its large grey or pink throat sac. In the wild, their call has been known to carry a distance of up to three kilometres.

Anna and the baby male primate were released into the exhibit on 24 August, joining Elmo, the father of the baby. Among gibbons, siamangs form the closest bonds within the family unit and members are rarely separated from one another by more than 30m.

These arboreal primates which depend heavily on the forest for existence are listed as ‘endangered’ in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list of threatened species. Nearly 40 per cent of their habitat is being damaged or destroyed as a result of human encroachment and other threats such as hunting and poaching. Although the species is currently protected throughout its home range, they can still reach a critically endangered status in the future if these threats continue to escalate.

Anna, and her six-month old male baby, Simbu. Equipped with remarkable vocal ability, adult pairs sing elaborate duets to each other, which last 30 minutes or more. This vocal display demarcates the pair’s territory and can be heard by rivals up to 3.2km away.

While the great apes tend to build nests in which they sleep, siamangs use the tough, horny pads on their bottoms to provide cushioning for a comfortable night in the treetops.

The baby stays close to its mother and makes some exploratory attempts at reaching for his father. The family will now be at Treetops Trail every day, dependent on the weather. The siamang disperses seeds through defecation as it travels across its territory. It can carry seeds and defecate over 300 m from the source, and this supports regeneration of the forest.

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