EXTREMELY RARE TURTLE RELEASED INTO THE WILD

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SOUTHERN RIVER TERRAPIN, FIXED WITH A SATELLITE TRANSMITTER, IS SET FREE TO BREED IN THE WATERS OF CAMBODIA

WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY, CAMBODIAN FISHERIES ADMINISTRATION, AND WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE WILL MONITOR TURTLE

LESS THAN 200 ADULT INDIVIDUALS REMAIN IN THE WILD

NEW YORK (January 18, 2012) – The Wildlife Conservation Society, in conjunction with the Cambodian Fisheries Administration and Wildlife Reserves Singapore, announced today the successful release of a Southern River terrapin (Batagur affinis) – one of the most endangered turtles on earth – into the Sre Ambel River in Cambodia.

The turtle was released on Monday, January 16th at a ceremony attended by officials, conservationists, and local people.

The female turtle, which weighs approximately 75 pounds (34 kilograms), is fixed with a satellite transmitter that will allow conservationists to track its whereabouts – the first-ever satellite monitoring study for this species.

Captured in the Sre Ambel River by local fishermen in April, 2011, the turtle is one of an estimated 200 adults remaining in the wilds of Cambodia, Malaysia, and Indonesia. It was voluntarily turned it over to the WCS Cambodia turtle team instead of being sold into the black market trade where it would have been sent to food markets in China.

The population in the Sre Ambel River is estimated at less than ten nesting females. Thus, this individual is extremely important for maintaining genetic diversity of this species that has already suffered drastic population declines.

WCS believes the population has an excellent chance of recovery as the coastal mangrove forests of Southeastern Cambodia are some of the largest and most pristine in Southeast Asia, spanning some 175 square miles (more than 45,000 hectares). These habitats are crucial to numerous aquatic and terrestrial animals and are vital nursery areas for marine fisheries.

Conservationists will monitor the turtle’s movements to see how it utilizes this region. Of particular interest is how the turtle navigates through commercial fishing grounds, as well as areas where it could be threatened by other factors such as habitat destruction by sand mining or conversion of mangrove forests into shrimp farming facilities.

WCS notes that numerous studies on similar long-lived species have shown that as little as a five percent increase in annual adult mortality can cause populations to go extinct.

“By reducing the adult mortality of the Southern River terrapin, even by fractions – as little as ten animals a year per population in this circumstance – we can have immediate and long-term positive impacts on the remaining wild populations of this critically endangered species” said Brian D. Horne of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Heng Sovannara, Deputy Director of Cambodia’s Fisheries Administration’s Conservation Department, is extremely hopeful that the release will enhance efforts to conserve the species. “By identifying areas that are most utilized by the turtles, we can pinpoint our efforts to reduce the turtles being caught as fishery by-catch as well as targeted hunting,” he said.

Dr. Sonja Luz, Deputy Director of Conservation & Research for Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said: “This project will contribute greatly to a much brighter future for this critically endangered terrapin. Hopefully, more public awareness and education opportunities will arise from this and allow us to create better protection tools and a safer environment for these amazing reptiles.”

In 2000, a small population of Southern River Terrapins, Batagur affinis, was found in the Sre Ambel after many years of being considered locally extinct.

The turtle was once considered solely the property of the King of Cambodia, but has been decimated by overhunting over the past two decades.

Following the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot regime, the Cambodian people were left in severe poverty, and with the growing international demand for turtles in China for human consumption, literally thousands of turtles were captured and sent to China for much needed income by the country’s impoverished people.

A turtle’s send off: A Southern river terrapin–one of the most endangered turtles on Earth–makes its way into Cambodia’s Sre Ambel River, in the midst of an admiring crowd. PHOTO CREDIT: Eleanor Briggs/Wildlife Conservation Society

Dr Brian D Horne, Turtle Coordinator for Wildlife Conservation Society, holds up the satellite transmitter against a juvenile Southern river terrapin that was bred at Singapore Zoo PHOTO CREDIT: Wildlife Reserves Singapore

MAKE A WILD DATE AT THE NIGHT SAFARI THIS VALENTINE’S DAY

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Singapore, 17 January 2012 – This Valentine’s Day, the Night Safari will help lovebirds ignite romance in the wild with its exclusive Valentine’s Day package.

This premium package invites lovers to wine and dine to their hearts’ content with the Cupid’s Candlelight Dinner amidst the rustic setting of Ulu Ulu Safari restaurant, followed by a romantic escapade into the wilderness of the Night Safari.

Couples will also enjoy a Lovers’ Lane priority tram boarding into the scenic wildlife park as well as VIP seating at the Creatures of the Night Show where they will experience a unique Valentine’s Day adventure like no other.

Served with love from Cupid’s kitchen, delectable dishes include Oven Baked Chilean Codfish, Wagyu Beef, and Blueberry Chocolate Chateau.

Night Safari Sweetheart Surprise Package
Date: 14 Feb 2012 (Tuesday)
Venue: Night Safari – Ulu Court
Time: 7pm
Pricing: $208 + per couple

Charges include admission and dinner at Night Safari for two, priority tram boarding, reserved seats for the Creatures of the Night Show and an exclusive couple gift.

For reservations, please call 6360 8560 during office hours or email event.sales@wrs.com.sg. Bookings made before 7th February 2012 will enjoy a 10% discount.

Lovers’ Lobster Salad - Lobster Medallion with Mango, Avocado, Water Chestnut, Sherry Vinegar Enhanced with Aged Balsamic topped with Garden Salad

“My Little Dumpling” Scallop Soup - Light Cream of Scallop Soup with Smoked Turkey Dumpling and US Asparagus served with Assorted Country Style Bread (Multi-grain and Olive Bread Roll)

Cod My Heart - Oven Baked Marinated Chilean Codfish with Champagne Sauce, Pea Puree, Chateau Dauphinoise and Baby Vegetables

Wild About Wagyu - Corn Fed Wagyu Beef with Merlot Jus, Pea Puree, Chateau Dauphinoise and Seasonal Vegetables

Lust for Chocolate - Flavor Blueberry Chocolate Chateau Enhanced with Vanilla Sauce and Strawberry Sauce Finished with Glazed Fresh Fruit

WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE AND CHULALONGKORN UNIVERSITY JOIN HANDS ON GIANT FRESHWATER STINGRAY INITIATIVE

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PROJECT AGREEMENT SIGNED ON GROUNDBREAKING PROJECT TO HELP BETTER UNDERSTAND MYSTERIOUS MEGAFISH

Singapore, 11 January 2012Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) and Chulalongkorn University, Thailand are working together on a pioneering project to tag and track giant freshwater stingrays in the wild. The two organisations sealed the partnership with a Programme Agreement signing ceremony at Singapore Zoo this afternoon.

This project, the first of its kind in the world, will involve tagging six wild specimens from the Mae Klong River in Amphawa, Thailand using “Pop-up Archival Transmitting Tags”*.

Chulalongkorn University will provide the expertise for the field research, while WRS will handle all financial aspects, including purchasing the tagging devices.

Giant freshwater stingrays have attracted global interest due to their enormous size. However, little is known of their physiology, behaviour and migration processes. This species has not been bred in captivity and is threatened by fisheries and habitat loss.

The results from this monitoring programme will provide valuable data of field survey and tracking in a natural environment. These data could be used to recreate an environment conducive for breeding the animals, reducing the need for wild-caught specimens. Additionally, this study may shed light on how they affect the riverine ecosystems and more importantly, if their decline is an indication of the deteriorating health of the whole ecosystem.

Both organisations will also use the opportunity to raise conservation awareness for this species through educational outreach programmes among the local population in Amphawa district, Thailand, where the study will be conducted and through WRS parks’ educational programmes. This will be the first official learning and cooperation platform between Thailand and Singapore.

Ms Isabella Loh, WRS Group CEO said, “This is a significant partnership with Chulalongkorn University to help conserve the giant freshwater stingrays of Southeast Asia, and the aquatic ecosystem they thrive in. Little is known of these enormous creatures and the vital role they play in the riverine ecosystem. This is one of the major interests in our conservation education drive for the upcoming River Safari.”

Dr Sonja Luz, Deputy Director, Conservation and Research and Learning Centre, continued, “Giant freshwater stingrays are still being harvested for food by some local fishermen but we do not know their growth rates, how often they reproduce, their impact on the aquatic ecosystem and if the fishermen’s practice is sustainable. This project will elucidate the need for further scientific studies and species census; helping us to understand and manage them better. This study may also shed light on the possibility of a viable managed breeding programme for this species at our aquatic facility in River Safari.”

Prof Dr Mongkol Techakumphu, Dean of faculty of Veterinary Science, Chulalongkorn University added, “This is an excellent opportunity for us to be a part of a momentous study. We hope that the data acquired may even form the backbone for provincial and governmental regulatory controls, encouraging the conservation of the giant freshwater stingray.”

Visitors to River Safari, WRS’ freshwater-themed attraction, will be able to discover these mystifying creatures for themselves when the park opens later this year.

* NOTE: Pop-up Archival Transmitting Tag is a combination of archival and satellite technology designed to track the large-scale movements and behaviour of fish and other animals which do not spend enough time at the surface to allow the use of real-time satellite tags.

Each giant freshwater stingray caught is also carefully measured from tip to tip. This species can reach an impressive 3m in disc diameter and over 6m in total length, and weigh up to 600kg.

Wildlife Reserves Singapore has three of these specimens in its collection. They will be displayed in River Safari, the upcoming freshwater-themed attraction, later this year.

Dr Nantarika Chansue of the Veterinary Medical Aquatic Animal Research Centre of Chulalongkorn University draws blood from the tail of a wild giant freshwater stingray in the Mae Klong River, Thailand.

FLOCK TO JURONG BIRD PARK TO SEE A WEALTH OF CHINESE NEW YEAR COLOURS

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Singapore, 9 January 2012Jurong Bird Park explodes into a wealth of colour this Chinese New Year, with rainbow lories taking centrestage. Chinese New Year wouldn’t be complete without the traditional God of Fortune and Lion Dances, and the Park’s festive Bird Shows, all of which add to the gaiety and joy which surrounds such a festive occasion.

Rainbow lories found at the Lory Loft exhibit will be the focus this Chinese New Year – colourful and gregarious, they are often seen in flocks, which represents abundance, an auspicious representation for the New Year. To add to the festivities, the Park will be teeming with festive vibrant flowers, showcasing the landscaping flair of in-park Horticulturists.

Adding to the excitement, a Southern Lion Dance troupe will perform on high poles, showcasing the lion’s agility, grace and majesty as it confidently traverses height with precision. On the ground, three God of Fortunes will be giving away lucky red packets and
mingling with guests at Jurong Bird Park for photo opportunities. Even birds from the show want in on the festivities, with Sassy the sulphur crested cockatoo flying red packets to selected guests, and Amigo the yellow-naped Amazon parrot will wow guests with his linguistic ability and wish audiences ‘Gong Xi Fa Cai.’

After the Southern Lion Dance in the morning, a brisk walk into the Park towards Lory Loft at noon will bring guests to an up close encounter with vibrantly chattering lories. Visitors will have the opportunity to see a whole flock of lories swarming around as the keepers feed them, while a running commentary explains more about Lory Loft and the lories there. Throughout the day, two iPad Stations have been set up at Penguin Coast for visitors to create and design a Chinese New Year greeting card to be sent to friends and family.

A tradition only found in this part of the region, Yu Sheng has become a staple during Chinese New Year. Guests to the Bird Park can also indulge in this delicacy, known for its assailing flavours of sweetness, sourness, bitterness and spiciness. From 3 – 13 February, Hawk Café, located before the entrance to Bird Park, will dish this out from lunchtime, at attractive prices of $8 for 2 pax, $16 for 4 pax, $24 for 6 pax and $32 for 10 pax. Chinese New Year is also a time for a reunion with friends and family, and the Flamingo Lodge at Bird Park is the place to be to host reunion lunches and dinners. From 13 January – 6 February, diners can enjoy the Sweet Success Menu at $188+, the Good Fortune Menu at $338+, the Wealth, Fortune and Prosperity Menu at $438+ and the Family Reunion Meal at $538+.

View the rainbow lories in their splendour.

Gape at the amazing acrobatics of the Lion Dance troupe at Jurong Bird Park this Chinese New Year

ENTER THE DRAGON’S LAIR THIS LUNAR NEW YEAR AT SINGAPORE ZOO

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Singapore, 6 January 2011Singapore Zoo plunges into the Year of the Dragon with an exciting line-up of activities to celebrate the mythical creature this Lunar New Year. In many Asian cultures, dragons are still revered as representative of the primal forces of nature, religion and the universe, and are often associated with wisdom and longevity.

A must-see is the Festive Dragon Walk, which will showcase dragon-associated plants and animals such as the bearded dragon and dragon fruit.

Visitors can interact with auspicious Fu Lu Shou characters, which will bless them with wealth and fortune to kickstart the year, and be entertained by an exciting dragon dance. Marvel too at the 3D majestic flower dragon – definitely a shutterbug moment amidst the backdrop of the scenic Upper Seletar Reservoir.

Activities:
Festive Dragon Walk
Learn more about the dragon-associated plants and animals in the Singapore Zoo collection, such as the bearded dragon, arowana (also know as dragon fish), juvenile komodo dragon and dragon fruit (did you know we actually have this in our Tropical Crops Plantation?).

Exciting Dragon Dance
Catch the fluid and graceful movements of the dragon as it bestows good luck and fortune in this majestic dance. Dragons in this Chinese dance are usually made up of sections of bamboo frames draped in silk. This Chinese dance had its beginnings in China and was popularized by the Tang dynasty. The dragon is regarded as a symbol of power and royalty by the Chinese and the dragon dance evolved from this association.

Auspicious Fu Lu Shou Appearance
Whip out your cameras for photo opportunities with the Fu Lu Shou characters as they mingle with guests and bless them with wealth and fortune to usher in the Year of the Dragon.

A Feast Fit for a Dragon!
Finally, families can take a break at the end of a fun-filled visit by digging into a delicious Chinese New Year Lunch.

Date/Time: 13 Jan – 6 Feb 2011, 12.00 – 2.00pm
Venue: Pavilion/Terrace, Ah Meng Restaurant
Cost: Sweet Success Menu (for 4 pax) – $188+, Good Fortune Menu (for 5-6 pax) – $338+, Wealth, Fortune and Prosperity Menu (7-8 pax) – $438+, Family Reunion Menu (9-10pax) – $538+
[Excludes admission of $20 (adult), $13 (child 3-12 years)]
Note: Reservations need to be made 3 working days in advance. Please call 6360 8560 for reservations
Also available for dinner at Night Safari’s Ulu Ulu Safari Restaurant (between 6.00-8.30pm)

Walk-in diners to Ah Meng Restaurant can also opt for the prosperous ‘Yu Sheng’ dish:
Date/Time: 13 Jan – 6 Feb 2011, 10.00am – 4.00pm daily, while stocks last
Cost: $8+ for 2 pax, $16+ for 4 pax, $24+ for 6 pax, $32+ for 10 pax
Note: Also available at Night Safari’s Ulu Ulu Safari Restaurant

The bearded dragon will be showcased in the Festive Dragon Walk at Singapore Zoo this coming Chinese New Year

The Komodo dragon will be showcased in the Festive Dragon Walk at Singapore Zoo this coming Chinese New Year

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