LOVE IS IN THE AIR AS GROUND DOVES BOOST BREEDING PROGRAMME IN JURONG BIRD PARK

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- Ground doves, known for their faithfulness to their partners until death, hatched as a result of careful diet and husbandry planning; Luzon and Mindanao bleeding heart pigeons among rare species.

A Luzon bleeding heart pigeon in Jurong Bird Park’s South East Asian Aviary. After a successful breeding programme, 10 progenies will be sent back to the Philippines this year to increase the wild population on Polillo Islands.

A Luzon bleeding heart pigeon in Jurong Bird Park’s South East Asian Aviary. After a successful breeding programme, 10 progenies will be sent back to the Philippines this year to increase the wild population on Polillo Islands.

Singapore, 13 February 2014 – With Valentine’s Day happening tomorrow, Jurong Bird Park is a-flutter with successful hatchings of ground dove pigeons, known for their faithfulness to their partners until death. Amongst them are Luzon and Mindanao bleeding heart pigeons, both of which can only be found in the Philippines.

A Mindanao bleeding heart pigeon in Jurong Bird Park, seen here at Heliconia Walk.

A Mindanao bleeding heart pigeon in Jurong Bird Park, seen here at Heliconia Walk.

After a successful two-year breeding programme, Jurong Bird Park now has ten Luzon bleeding heart pigeon progenies ready to be sent back to the Philippines this year to be released to the wild on Polillo Islands. Luzon bleeding heart pigeons are a threatened species of bird, with declining numbers in the wild due to deforestation and the illegal pet trade.

The project is Jurong Bird Park’s first off-site conservation project involving an endemic species from the Philippines in the ASEAN region. Recognising Jurong Bird Park’s expertise in conservation and breeding, two pairs of Luzon bleeding heart pigeons arrived in the park two years ago as part of an agreement signed with Avilon Zoo (Philippines) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in the Philippines. These birds started breeding from October 2012 and continued through January 2014 to produce 10 progenies.

All bleeding heart pigeons and golden heart doves are part of a group of Australasian pigeons known as ground doves, known to be very faithful to their partners until death. If one dies, the other will look for another to pair up with. Upon becoming parents, both males and females will take turns to incubate the eggs. For the first few days of a chick’s life, the chick is fed crop milk produced by both genders. Once the chick is older, both parents will forage for food for the young. Ground doves are very caring, often preening each other and their chicks. They will also sun bathe together, strengthening the bond communally.

“To have 10 Luzon bleeding heart pigeon progenies available for release over a short span of two years is a remarkable achievement. This project was initiated with the aim of contributing to the recovery of this species in its natural habitat, and we look forward to developing more conservation projects for other endemic Philippine species. The success and the knowledge gained paves the way for Jurong Bird Park to engage in other similar regional conservation projects.” said Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Chief Life Science Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

A pair of Mindanao bleeding heart pigeons arrived in the Bird Park from San Diego Zoo in September 2013, as part of an exchange programme. Although this pair was not known to be prolific breeders, they adjusted well to their new home and that a few weeks after their arrival, they laid one fertile egg, which hatched after an 18-day incubation period. Another fertile egg was laid just before Christmas last year, which also yielded a chick.

A first-ever breeding of Mindanao bleeding heart pigeons in Jurong Bird Park, seen here at Heliconia Walk with a three month old chick.

A first-ever breeding of Mindanao bleeding heart pigeons in Jurong Bird Park, seen here at Heliconia Walk with a three month old chick.

A two-pronged scientific approach involving husbandry and diet was taken towards the successful breeding of the Luzon and Mindanao bleeding heart pigeons. The Luzon bleeding heart pigeons were placed in an off-site aviary with minimal human contact, while a specialised diet with increased protein levels was provided for added nutrients during breeding season. Although the Mindanao bleeding heart pigeons were placed in a visible public enclosure, the aviary was properly landscaped, which provided the birds with a heightened sense of security necessary for breeding. Similarly, they were also given a protein-rich diet during breeding season.

In addition to the successful hatchings, Jurong Bird Park will welcome two pairs of golden heart doves from Germany for breeding and conservation purposes. Endemic to Papua New Guinea, these birds are uncommon in institutions as it is a challenge obtaining birds from New Guinea due to governmental restrictions.

Come to Jurong Bird Park this February to see the Luzon bleeding heart pigeons at the South East Asian Exhibit, and the Mindanao bleeding heart pigeons at Heliconia Walk. Two pairs of golden heart doves will be on display from April at Window on Paradise. For more information, please visit www.birdpark.com.sg

GIANT PANDAS ARRIVE SAFELY IN SINGAPORE

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Singapore, 6 September 2012 – Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) today announced that the two giant pandas from China have arrived safely. The giant pandas, Kai Kai (凯凯) and Jia Jia (嘉嘉), touched down at Changi Airport on board a Singapore Airlines Cargo Boeing 747 freighter at 8.20am after a five-hour flight.

“We are delighted that Kai Kai and Jia Jia have reached Singapore safe and sound. It is an honour to be entrusted with two of China’s national treasures and their arrival symbolises the strong ties and deep friendship between Singapore and China. It is an exciting time for tourism in Singapore, with the opening of new attractions like the River Safari. Kai Kai and Jia Jia will certainly generate great interest and excitement for visitors and Singaporeans alike. We will continue to strengthen our tourism value proposition with new and diversified tourism offerings to grow the tourism sector,” says Mr Teo Ser Luck, Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry.

“With this captivating species as one of the main attractions at River Safari, we are anticipating at least 850,000 visitors annually. Through this collaborative programme with China Wildlife Conservation Association, WRS now has another opportunity to boost greater interest in the area of wildlife conservation by bringing visitors up close to the two giant pandas and hopefully inspiring them to care for threatened wildlife ecosystems around the world”, said Ms Claire Chiang, Chairman of WRS.

CapitaLand Limited, one of Asia’s largest real estate companies with a strong presence in China for over 15 years, has pledged a conservation donation to support the 10-year collaborative programme.

Mr Liew Mun Leong, President and CEO of CapitaLand Group, and Director of CapitaLand Hope Foundation, said: “CapitaLand’s role as the Presenting Sponsor and Conservation Donor of the Giant Panda Collaborative Programme resonates with the Group’s core values of ‘People’ and ‘Community’. The programme provides an excellent platform to enhance cultural exchange and understanding between Singapore and China, and promote wildlife conservation education, CapitaLand is committed to sustainability in all our development projects in the geographies we operate and we are pleased to be part of this meaningful effort to conserve and share the beauty of wildlife with our future generations.”

Singapore Airlines, Official Airline Sponsor, has provided transportation for the pandas as well as air tickets for training and exchange programmes involving the team of panda caretakers’ from both Singapore and China.

“Singapore Airlines is pleased to have transported Kai Kai and Jia Jia comfortably to Singapore. We warmly welcome them to their new home at the River Safari, and are privileged to be playing our part in this significant conservation initiative,” said Mr Goh Choon Phong, CEO, Singapore Airlines.

Upon landing, the giant pandas were received by Mr Teo Ser Luck, Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry and representatives* from the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Singapore; State Forestry Administration of the People’s Republic of China; CapitaLand Limited; CapitaLand Hope Foundation; Singapore Airlines; Temasek Holdings; Singapore Tourism Board; and Wildlife Reserves Singapore, who gathered at the cargo area to welcome the bears. Subsequently, the giant pandas were whisked away in a temperature-controlled truck to their quarantine enclosure in River Safari while the guests continued with the welcome ceremony at the Jet Quay CIP facility at Changi Airport.

During the ceremony, WRS Chairman Ms Claire Chiang presented VIP (Very Important Panda) passes to representatives from the State Forestry Administration of the People’s Republic of China, symbolic of the pandas’ new status as residents of River Safari.

Over at the entrance of River Safari, a crowd of close to 1000 guests and WRS staff were waiting expectantly at the driveway. They cheered enthusiastically as the truck containing the precious pandas approached, led by an escort jeep, six lion dancers and two panda mascots in the likeness of Kai Kai and Jia Jia.

Within 3 hours of landing in Singapore, Kai Kai and Jia Jia were smoothly transferred into their quarantine dens with careful coordination by the Chinese giant panda specialists and WRS zoology and veterinary teams. The team shared that the pair were calm and relaxed throughout the operation.

The giant pandas will be quarantined for a month before being released into their exhibit to explore and familiarise themselves with their new surroundings. Visitors can look forward to visiting Kai Kai and Jia Jia at the giant panda exhibit this December.

Kai Kai and Jia Jia will be in Singapore for 10 years as part of a joint collaboration between China Wildlife Conservation Association and WRS to raise public awareness on wildlife conservation and develop a breeding programme for these endangered animals. There are fewer than 1,600 giant pandas left in the wild. The pair of giant pandas also emphasises the close diplomatic relations between Singapore and China.

Singapore is the ninth country to receive giant pandas from China since 1994.

SQ7168 reveals the precious cargo it’s carrying, two crates containing Kai Kai and Jia Jia, the giant pandas

Panda welcoming party (from left): Mr Ng Chin Hwee, Executive Vice President Human Resources & Operations, Singapore Airlines Chairman SIA Cargo; Ms Zhang Hong Yan, Deputy Director, State Forestry Administration of the People’s Republic of China; Mr Lionel Yeo, Chief Executive, Singapore Tourism Board; Mr David Heng, Senior Managing Director, Investment, Temasek Holdings; Mr Goh Choon Phong, CEO, Singapore Airlines; Mr Liu Yawen, Deputy Director, State Forestry Administration of the People’s Republic of China; Mr Dai Bing, Charge D’affairs, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Singapore; Mr Teo Ser Luck, Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry; Ms Claire Chiang, Chairman, Wildlife Reserves Singapore; Mr S R Nathan, former President of Singapore; and Chairman, CapitaLand Hope Foundation; Mr Ng Kee Choe, Chairman, CapitaLand Limited; Mr Liew Mun Leong, President and CEO, CapitaLand Limited; Ms Jennie Chua, Director, CapitaLand Hope Foundation; Mr Xiao Jiang Hua, Cultural Counsellor, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Singapore; Mr Lee Meng Tat, CEO, Wildlife Reserves Singapore are all smiles as they welcome Kai Kai and Jia Jia to Singapore.

Giant key for the giants’ exhibit: Mr Liew Mun Leong, President and CEO, CapitaLand Limited presents a key to Mr Liu Yawen, Deputy Director, State Forestry Administration of the People’s Republic of China. CapitaLand Limited, as the Presenting Sponsor and Conservation Donor of the Giant Panda collaborative programme, has pledged a conservation donation to support the 10-year collaborative programme.

Kai Kai and Jia Jia, the giant panda mascots, lapping up the adoration of the public as they wait for the giant pandas’ arrival at the entrance of River Safari.

Safe and sound: River Safari keepers watch as Kai Kai, one of the pair of giant pandas from China, indulges in his first taste of bamboo after being moved into his den. The two giant pandas will undergo a month long quarantine and will be conditioned to their new habitat before going on public display in December this year.

GIANT PANDAS ARRIVING SINGAPORE SEPTEMBER 6

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From left: Giant pandas Kai Kai (male) and Jia Jia (female). PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Singapore, 15 August 2012 – Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) today announced that the two giant pandas from China will be arriving in Singapore on 6 September 2012.

The giant pandas from Ya’an Bifengxia Panda Base will be flown to Singapore on board a Singapore Airlines Cargo Boeing 747 freighter and are expected to touch down at Changi Airport at 8.20 am. The two pandas, named Kai Kai (凯凯) and Jia Jia (嘉嘉), will be housed at the Yangtze River zone of the upcoming River Safari, along with other endangered wildlife from China such as the giant salamander and the red panda. The pandas will add new buzz and excitement to the tourism and leisure landscape, for Singaporeans and visitors.

“After many months of careful planning and preparation, we are happy to welcome the giant pandas to Singapore and to their new home at River Safari. The arrival of Kai Kai and Jia Jia marks the start of an exciting panda research and development opportunity and we look forward to working closely with the Chinese experts to enhance overall understanding on giant panda conservation,” said Ms Claire Chiang, Chairman of WRS.

To ensure that the giant pandas are comfortable during their five-hour flight, the aircraft’s temperature will be set to the bears’ natural habitat conditions and ‘in-flight meals’ will also be provided in the form of bamboo, fruit and water. The pandas will be transported in special crates that offer ventilation and adequate space to move about in relative comfort. A team of keepers and vets from WRS and Ya’an Bifengxia Panda Base will be accompanying the giant pandas throughout their journey.

After landing, the giant pandas will receive a celebratory welcome at the airport and will then be moved into a temperature-controlled truck for their journey to River Safari. There, the pandas will be moved into their den block to begin a month-long quarantine. After completing the quarantine process, they will be released into their exhibit to explore and familiarise themselves with their new surroundings before going on public display. Visitors can look forward to visiting the giant panda exhibit in December.

Kai Kai and Jia Jia will be in Singapore for 10 years as part of a joint collaboration between China Wildlife Conservation Association and WRS to raise public awareness on wildlife conservation and develop a breeding programme for these endangered animals. There are fewer than 1,600 giant pandas left in the wild. The pair of giant pandas also emphasises the close diplomatic relations between Singapore and China.

CapitaLand, the Presenting Sponsor and Conservation Donor of the Giant Panda collaborative programme, has pledged a conservation donation to support the 10-year collaborative programme to promote giant panda conservation; and Singapore Airlines is the Official Airline Sponsor of these gentle animals.

Singapore will be the ninth country to receive giant pandas from China since 1994.

Note: Further details will be given closer to the giant pandas’ arrival date.

HEARTS BLEED FOR THE BLEEDING HEART AT JURONG BIRD PARK

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A Luzon bleeding heart pigeon in the South East Asia Aviary, characterised by the splash of vivid red in the centre of the white breast. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Singapore, 17 April 2012 – Two pairs of Luzon bleeding heart pigeons flew into Jurong Bird Park a month ago, as part of an agreement signed with Avilon Zoo (Philippines) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Part of an ex-situ conservation and breeding programme instituted by the Bird Park, progenies will be released to the wild on the Polillo Islands in Philippines.

After the mandatory month long quarantine, the release of one pair of pigeons to the South-East Asia Aviary today will be witnessed by the Philippine Ambassador to Singapore, Ambassador Minda Calaguian-Cruz, and they will join the Park’s individual Luzon bleeding heart pigeon. The other pair of pigeons will be housed in a secluded, off-site breeding aviary where they will have the necessary privacy and attention of the officers at the Breeding and Research Centre (BRC).

“The Philippines deeply appreciates the commitment of Jurong Bird Park to assist in saving one of the country’s endangered species of wild birds. This collaborative project between the Philippines and Singapore is the first conservation breeding programme for the bleeding heart pigeons outside the Philippines and since the passage of the Philippines’ Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001. It is also the first ex-situ conservation project involving Philippine endemic species in the ASEAN region. We look with great interest towards the progress of this project, which aims to contribute towards the recovery and perpetuation of bleeding heart population in the Philippines and hopefully, the start of more conservation partnerships for nationally and regionally important wildlife resources. Hopefully, we can also share with the public a view of this wild bird species,” said Her Excellency, Ambassador Minda Calaguian-Cruz.

“We were concerned to hear that the wild population of the Luzon bleeding heart pigeons is under some threat. This is the first agreement the Bird Park has signed with an institution in Philippines, and we are excited to have more bleeding heart pigeons here. We currently have 16 species of pigeons in our collection, and have been breeding them successfully via parental natural incubation and artificial incubation. With our proven expertise in avian life, we are quietly confident that we will be able to release the progenies to Polillo Island in the future, helping to increase their numbers in the wild,” said Mr Raja Segran, General Manager, Jurong Bird Park.

The Luzon bleeding heart pigeons get their name from a splash of vivid red right in the centre of their white breast, with a reddish hue extending all the way down to their belly. A quiet and shy ground dweller from the primary and secondary rainforests of the central and southern parts of Luzon, and on the neighboring Polillo Islands in Philippines, this species is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN. Their numbers in the wild are under threat from the locals, who trap them for their meat, while their unique appearance also make them a prime target for the pet trade.

Her Excellency, Philippine’s Ambassador Minda Calaguian-Cruz looks on as a Luzon bleeding heart pigeon steps out into its’ new home at the South East Asia Aviary.

Her Excellency and Ms Isabella Loh, Chief Executive Officer, WRS, peer intently as the Luzon bleeding heart pigeons are released.

NIGHT SAFARI CELEBRATES FESTIVE SEASON WITH BIRTH OF BABY GIRAFFE

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Singapore, 20 December 2011 – The world’s first Night Safari welcomed a lanky surprise this festive season – a 1.88m tall baby giraffe born on December 5, 2011.

The male calf got on his feet just moments after a six-foot drop from his mother, Dobeni, which gave birth standing up. The birth is the first after three years. The 75-kg baby, which is still unnamed, is the third South African giraffe born at the Night Safari. His father, Pongola, and mother Dobeni are also proud parents of female giraffe Kayin, that was born at the park in 2008.

“We hope that the birth of this South African giraffe sub-species at Night Safari will continue to increase the gene pool of the species for global zoological institutions through animal exchanges and breeding programmes,” said Mr. Subash Chandran, Assistant Director, Zoology, Night Safari.

Although the giraffe is classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Least Concern, its range in Africa has been reduced due to habitat degradation. There are nine subspecies of giraffe, which differ in size, coloration, pattern and range. Some subspecies are classified as endangered.

“In the wild, young giraffes often fall prey to lions, leopards and hyenas. It is estimated that only a small percentage of baby giraffes reach adulthood. We are happy to see that our healthy calf is suckling from its mother and galloping in its yard. The first few weeks are very important milestones in a giraffe’s growth,” said Mr. Chandran.

Giraffes are the tallest land animals, growing to a height of between 4.7m and 5.3m. The tallest giraffe in the world recorded a height of 6.1metres. Females are usually shorter than their male counterparts. Being crepuscular, they are active at dawn and dusk and sleep approximately four hours a day. With a flexible upper lip and a long tongue, the giraffe can extend its tongue as far as 53cm to grasp its food of mainly acacia leaves.

Being social animals, wild giraffes exist in loose herds of 10 to 20 individuals. Unknown to many, giraffes, despite their lanky necks, share a similar number of neck bones with humans and mice — seven.

Visitors can visit the baby giraffe at its Night Safari exhibit by February 2012. For more
information on the giraffes at the Night Safari, please visit http://www.nightsafari.com.sg

21-year-old South African giraffe, Dobeni, gently nuzzles her 1.88m tall baby at the Night Safari.

Night Safari’s latest giraffe calf suckles from his mother, 21-year-old Dobeni.

An affectionate mother, Dobeni gently strokes her newborn at the Night Safari. Dobeni stands at approximately 4m in height.

NIGHT SAFARI CELEBRATES A RARE FIRST WITH THE BIRTH OF TWO CLOUDED LEOPARDS

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Singapore, 29 June 2011Night Safari, the world’s first wildlife park for nocturnal animals, recently celebrated the first birth of its clouded leopards, an endangered wild cat. The arrival of the pair of cubs is a major achievement for Night Safari as clouded leopards are notoriously difficult to breed. The high frequency of aggression between the two genders of the beautifully patterned predator sometimes results in the death of the female during mating in wild populations.

Named for the cloud-like spots on its coat, the clouded leopard is a medium-sized wild cat found primarily in lowland tropical rainforest habitats throughout Southeast Asia, Nepal and southern China. Listed as ‘vulnerable’ under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list of threatened species, little is known about the behavior or population numbers of the wild species because of their enigmatic nature.

The parents of the new arrivals, father Tawan and mother Wandee, arrived from Thailand’s Khao Kheow Open Zoo two years ago. Since then, keepers at the Night Safari have been hoping to kick start a breeding programme between the two and has been waiting for them to reach breeding age.

Mr Kumar Pillai, Director of Zoology at Night Safari said: “The park has been studying various ways of increasing the success rate of captive breeding of clouded leopards for some time now, such as introducing the pair at an early age to promote bonding and lessen aggression. We have also paired an older female with a younger male as she will be more experienced and capable of defending herself. We are very pleased that our efforts have paid off with the birth of not just one, but two clouded leopard cubs.”

Wild populations of clouded leopards are fast declining as a result of the loss of habitat and are highly sought after in the illegal wildlife trade for their skin and bones. Globally, there are fewer than an estimated 10,000 mature individuals in the wild, with no single population numbering more than 1,000.

This further increases the pressure on wildlife institutions to establish viable captive breeding programmes.

The Night Safari is run by Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), which also operates award winning parks Jurong Bird Park, Singapore Zoo and the upcoming river-themed wildlife park, River Safari. All three parks are actively involved in the captive breeding of endangered species and take part in coordinated global breeding programmes with reputable zoological institutions around the world. To date, WRS has successfully bred endangered wildlife such as the Bali Mynah, white rhinoceros and the Red-shanked douc langur.

INDERA THE SUN BEAR’S JOURNEY TO THE WEST

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EXCHANGE PROGRAMME WITH UK’S RARE SPECIES CONSERVATION CENTRE WILL BOOST CAPTIVE BREEDING OF THE ENDANGERED SPECIES

Singapore, 28 June 2011Singapore Zoo’s juvenile Malayan sun bear has arrived safe and sound in the United Kingdom and has made himself right at home at the Rare Species Conservation Centre (RSCC) in Kent.

Within minutes of settling in, the one-year-old was already eating fruit. Being young and adventurous, the curious sun bear also explored his new enclosure by sniffing out every nook and cranny, and was climbing and playing with enrichment devices almost immediately after being introduced to his new home.

Indera’s new ‘mate’ at the centre’s sun bear exhibit is Charlotte, a four-year-old female born in Cologne Zoo in Germany. Keepers at RSCC hope to kick start a breeding programme with the pair when Indera reaches sexual maturity in the next two years.

“Charlotte, however, was at first apprehensive about Indera and showed some aggression towards him. However, the little one stood his ground and rose on two feet to show he was not going to be intimidated. Such confidence is rarely seen in young sun bears and staff at RSCC have high hopes for him as a mate for Charlotte,” said Todd Dalton, Director of RSCC.

His journey to the UK was arranged in the summer to help him adapt more easily to the new surroundings. Both bears have a temperature controlled ‘house’ in the exhibit which keeps them warm in the winter.

Indera’s transfer from Singapore Zoo to RSCC is part of an exchange programme between the centre and Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), which also manages Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari and the upcoming River Safari. These animal exchanges boost genetic diversity by ensuring the survival of captive populations of endangered species.

Sun bears are found primarily in the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia. Though relatively diminutive in size and cuddly-looking, these animals can be aggressive in the wild, and are among the most dangerous creatures in the forest. Humans pose the biggest threat to their existence – deforestation and logging have led to their habitat loss. They are also poached for their parts, e.g. fur, paws, or bile, and many young sun bears are trapped for the illegal pet trade. International laws have made any commercial trade in the bear or its body parts illegal, and they have been listed as a species ‘vulnerable’ to extinction.

Besides WRS’ ongoing breeding programme, it has also been involved in overseas research and conservation projects, including a field research project in the Danum Valley region of Sabah to gather data on the ecology of the sun bear and its prospects for survival in disrupted forest habitats.

Photo courtesy of Balazs Buzas and Rare Species Conservation Trust - Indera explores his new home.

Photo courtesy of Balazs Buzas and Rare Species Conservation Trust - Like all adventurous young bears, Indera sniffs out his environment.

Photo courtesy of Balazs Buzas and Rare Species Conservation Trust - Indera plays with the various enrichment devices in his enclosure.

NIGHT SAFARI’S BABY ELEPHANT READY TO GREET VISITORS

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Singapore, 4 April 2011 – This April, Night Safari visitors will get to see the park’s first baby elephant in nine years, when the five-month-old calf makes his first public appearance. Born on 23 November last year, this latest addition to Night Safari’s brood of endangered Asian elephants has been named ‘Nila Utama’, after the Sumatran prince Sang Nila Utama, who founded the kingdom of Singapura in 1324.

The bold and inquisitive elephant was sired by Chawang, the sole bull elephant at Night Safari, which is managed by Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS). Now 125cm tall and weighing a hefty 318 kg, it is the first elephant to be born at both Night Safari and Singapore Zoo in almost a decade. Visitors can witness the close bond between mother and baby at the Asian elephant exhibit from April onwards.

“Our four-month-old calf is growing up to be strong, curious, and independent. He is not afraid to leave his mother’s side to explore his surroundings and we have seen the little one even getting into the pool of water himself. Nila Utama is like our very own ‘Singapore son’ and we are excited for Singaporeans and tourists to get acquainted with him. WRS hopes his birth will go towards sustaining and increasing the population of Asian elephants both in captivity and in the wild,” said Ms Fanny Lai, Group CEO of WRS.

Nila Utama is the 11th addition to the family of Asian elephants at WRS, which also runs the Jurong Bird Park, Singapore Zoo and the upcoming River Safari. His mother, Sri Nandong, has raised two other males, Sang Raja (‘noble one’) in 1999 and Sang Wira (‘brave one’) in 2001.

WRS runs successful breeding programmes across all its parks, and has done particularly well with breeding endangered animals such as the pangolin, Malayan sun bear, the orang utans and many others. It works with global partners to increase the gene pool of captive animals through various exchange programmes. For example, Chawang’s semen has been sent to zoos in Australia to help facilitate artificial inseminations with elephants there.

The population of Asian elephants in the wild is dwindling fast – even more so than their better recognised counterpart, the African elephant. An estimated 30,000 to 50,000 are left in the forests of India, Sri Lanka, Laos, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Habitat loss poses the most serious threat to the future of these magnificent creatures, as a large part of their native homes are being logged and cleared for urban and agricultural development resulting in human – elephant conflict. WRS is working with Wildlife Conservation Society in mitigating this in Sumatra, Indonesia.

Photo courtesy of Bjorn Olesen

Photo courtesy of Bjorn Olesen

MEET “KAI KAI” (凯凯) AND “JIA JIA” (嘉嘉) – SINGAPORE’S GIANT PANDAS

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WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE ANNOUNCES NAMES CHOSEN FROM NATIONWIDE SEARCH

Singapore, 16 March 2011 – After a six-month-long nationwide contest, the names of Singapore’s two most highly anticipated soon-to-be ‘permanent residents’ have been selected from nearly 1,000 entries submitted by the public last year. A distinguished judging panel has picked “Kai Kai” (凯凯) and “Jia Jia” (嘉嘉) as the new names for the two Giant Panda cubs as they bear special significance of the close relationship between Singapore and China. The names “Kai Kai” (凯凯) and “Jia Jia” (嘉嘉) won by a clear majority of the judges’ votes.

The seven-person judging panel consisted of representatives from different agencies and organisations, namely Mr Chen Jiang, Cultural Counsellor, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Singapore; Professor Tommy Koh, Ambassador-at-Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ms Aw Kah Peng, Chief Executive, Singapore Tourism Board; Professor Wang Gungwu, Chairman, East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore; Mr Liew Mun Leong, President and CEO, CapitaLand Group; Ms Jennie Chua, Chief Corporate Officer, CapitaLand Limited; and Ms Claire Chiang, Chairman, Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

“Kai Kai”, the name for the male giant panda, was chosen as it means ‘victorious’ in Chinese (as in 凯旋, 凯歌) and is a testament to the 20 triumphant years of Sino-Singapore relations. For the female giant panda, ‘Jia Jia’ which means beautiful and fine, is a reflection of the excellent ties between Singapore and China. On another level, the Chinese character ‘Jia’ (嘉) was used in the old Chinese reference for Singapore (星嘉坡) and the phonetic pronunciation of ‘Jia’ is equivalent to the Mandarin pronunciation of the Chinese character ‘加’, which is not only an integral part of Singapore’s current Chinese name (新加坡), but also means ‘to add’ – representing the wish to expand the giant panda family in Singapore through a successful breeding programme at WRS.

“We can refer to our giant pandas by name, and that is an exciting development for us, especially since these names were submitted by Singaporeans. These are meaningful and beautiful names, chosen to reflect the symbolic ties we have with China, and the future these pandas will have in Singapore. People here have shown tremendous support for our giant panda conservation programme and we hope the community will continue to demonstrate their commitment to wildlife conservation,” said Ms Claire Chiang, Chairman, WRS.

Added Mr Chen Jiang, Cultural Counsellor, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Singapore: “The bond between Singapore and China is one that is built on mutual trust and respect, and the two giant pandas are an expression of that close friendship. They also mark the commitment to conserve and safeguard the existence of these endangered animals.”

Mr Lim Chin Beng, Chairman of CapitaLand Hope Foundation, the philanthropic arm of CapitaLand, said: “These symbolic names reflect the strong bilateral relationship between Singapore and China over the last 20 years, and will further strengthen the close friendship and economic ties between the two countries going forward. The Giant Panda collaborative programme will raise cultural exchange and understanding between Singapore and China, and also promote wildlife conservation education among the young. It is against this backdrop that CapitaLand, as a responsible corporate citizen in Singapore and China, is proud to be the Presenting Sponsor and Conservation Donor of the programme.”

The duo – a three-year-old male and his two-year-old female companion – will arrive in Singapore next year, as part of a joint collaboration between WRS and China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA) to raise awareness for the conservation of these gentle creatures, and the development of a breeding programme for these critically endangered animals. The pandas also represent the close diplomatic relations between Singapore and China. Singapore is the seventh country to receive giant pandas from China since 1994.

The person whose entry was picked by the judges is a 38 year old Singaporean, Ms Angeline Fong, who will receive a complimentary three-night stay at any Ascott serviced residence worldwide, an exclusive preview of the giant panda exhibit when it opens in 2012, and other attractive prizes.

The two furry black and white envoys are due to arrive in early 2012 and will be housed at WRS’ upcoming attraction, the River Safari, Asia’s first river-themed park. Visitors at the River Safari will be able to observe the giant pandas up close in an environment similar to that of their natural habitat, naturally landscaped with a lush bamboo forest, shallow streams, trees and boulders for the animals to explore and play.

Giant Pandas are among the rarest bear species in the world with less than 1,600 left in the wild. They are classified as endangered under the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species. The population of giant pandas in the wild continues to dwindle due to the loss and destruction of their natural habitat.

For more information, please visit www.riversafari.com.sg

Jia Jia - the female Giant Panda

Kai Kai - the male Giant Panda

RED-FRONTED MACAWS AND HORNBILL CHICKS ADD TO THE JOY THIS BREEDING SEASON AT JURONG BIRD PARK

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Singapore, 12 July 2010 – It’s a full house, as far as the breeding season goes, at the Jurong Bird Park, with successful hatchings by four different species of birds, one of which is highly endangered. 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, recently hatched four red-fronted macaws, a great pied hornbill, an oriental pied hornbill and a black hornbill. The hatchings are part of an on-going award-winning breeding programme at the park, which is dedicated to the conservation of avian species.

“We are thrilled to welcome a nest-full of chicks into the park. The last hatching for the red-fronted macaw was 10 years ago. This time round, we had the rare occasion of having four eggs in one clutch, and we have successfully hatched all four eggs, which is quite an achievement,” said Mr Raja Segran, General Curator, Jurong Bird Park. “To add to the joy, we also welcomed three hornbill chicks, which greatly aid our ex-situ conservation efforts for these enigmatic species. Our award-winning breeding programme is a clear demonstration of our role and capabilities in the preservation of avian biodiversity.”

The red-fonted macaw is a highly endangered parrot species native to the mountainous area of south-central Bolivia. They are captured for the illegal pet trade and coupled with rapid habitat destruction, there are only a few hundred of them left in the wild.

Breeding season for the hornbills takes place annually from November to May the following year. Visitors to the Bird Park during this time may be able to catch a glimpse of the sealed-in nestbox, which typically signifies that the female hornbill and her eggs are in there. A narrow slit is left for the male hornbill to feed the female and eventually the chicks, until the female and chicks break out of the sealed-in nestbox. The great pied hornbill is the heaviest Asian hornbill and is notoriously difficult to breed in captivity, due to their extreme selectivity for mates, as well as the long and strong pair bonds they form. It is listed as a threatened species because of hunting and habitat loss. The oriental pied hornbill was last sighted in Singapore more than 150 years ago, but it was only recently that they were once again sighted in 1994. They are the only truly wild hornbills found here. The black hornbill is a common species of hornbill found in various parts of Asia, such as Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

A recipient of many firsts, the Bird Park was the first globally to successfully breed the black hornbill in captivity in 1995. The Bird Park was also the first in the world to breed the Twelve-wired Bird of Paradise in captivity and received the Breeders’ Award from the American Pheasant and Waterfowl Society in 2001.  They were also a recipient of the Conservation & Research Award for Oriental Pied Hornbill Conservation Project by IV International Symposium on Breeding Birds in Captivity in 2006.

Courtesy of Bjorn Olesen - Our newly hatched red-fronted macaw hatchlings

An oriental pied hornbill at Jurong Bird Park

A row of black hornbills at Jurong Bird Park

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