SINGAPORE ZOO’S PRIMATE KINGDOM WELCOMES PRINCE OF PEACE

1 Comment

28 IS THE MAGIC NUMBER FOR THE ENDANGERED DOUC LANGUR TROOP

Singapore, 3 Aug 2012 — Recent visitors to Singapore Zoo might have seen bright flashes of red, gold and grey flitting through the trees at Primate Kingdom. Eagle-eyed guests may even have seen a small, duller flash darting about, with a bigger ball of colour following close behind.

This is no trapeze artist at the Zoo, but a precocious new addition to the 15-strong Douc langur family that resides at Primate Kingdom. An, which means “peace” in both Vietnamese and Chinese, is the 28th successful birth that we have welcomed since 1988 and mum Sawadee’s second baby. Coincidentally, An arrived at our zoo on 28 April this year.

Baby An makes a leap for the next branch as mum Sawadee follows closely behind.

Though red-shanked Douc langurs are classified as monkeys, their multi-coloured coats (consisting red, black, white, grey and gold highlights), complete with blue eyes, have earned them the title of “costumed ape”.

At just slightly over three months old, Baby An’s body colouration is lighter than mum and the other adults. As he grows older, his coat will darken as his face lightens, achieving adult colouration at 10 months.

While the Douc langurs in Singapore Zoo enjoy a protected environment, ample food and a large, naturalistic habitat, the same cannot be said for their counterparts in the wild. Native to the rainforests of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, they are listed as endangered on the IUCN* Red List of Threatened Species.

Locals hunt this monkey for food and its body parts, which are used in the preparation of traditional medicines. The Douc langur’s beauty has also become its undoing as it is sometimes hunted to sustain the international pet trade. During the Vietnam War, its forest habitat was also destroyed by defoliating agents and bombs.

“It is fitting that we name this new baby after the word ‘peace’,” said Mr Alagappasamy Chellaiyah, Assistant Director, Zoology, Singapore Zoo, “It is our hope that humans eventually make peace with this species, and realise the importance of conserving, rather than killing them.”

Baby An hitches a ride with mum – baby Douc langurs cling to their mothers instinctively after they’re born, and achieve greater independence from them between 8-18 months of age.

Sawadee shares a quiet moment with her son while perched atop the vines of their habitat.

Singapore Zoo’s Primate Kingdom is home to 15 of these beautiful primates. Of the 28 babies born here, some have been sent to zoos overseas as part of the Zoo’s ex-situ conservation efforts through its worldwide exchange programme. In March this year, Wani, a female Douc langur, was sent to Yokohama Zoo on a breeding loan. She will be joined by another Douc langur later this year.

*International Union for the Conservation of Nature

PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

NIGHT SAFARI CELEBRATES BIRTH OF RARE CLOUDED LEOPARDS

1 Comment

- NOTORIOUSLY DIFFICULT TO BREED, THREE NEW CLOUDED LEOPARDS ARE BORN A YEAR AFTER THE PARK’S FIRST SUCCESSFUL CLOUDED LEOPARD BIRTH.

The three clouded leopard cubs are healthy and active.

Cubs are seen climbing on branches.

Singapore, 12 June 2012 – Barely a year since its first successful birth of clouded leopards, Night Safari recently welcomed another litter of clouded leopard cubs, one of the world’s rarest and secretive wild cat species. The three cubs that arrived on 14 April 2012 were born to parents Tawan and Wandee, who had their first litter in May last year.

Named for the cloud-like patterns of their coats which help them disappear into the shadows of the forest, clouded leopards are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity. These cats often exhibit very aggressive courtship behaviours which sometimes results in the death of the female during mating. It is estimated that less than 20% of captive clouded leopards have been successful at reproducing because the males tend to kill their females during mating.

This second birth is a result of a planned breeding program, which saw the introduction of Tawan and Wandee at an early age to promote bonding and minimise aggression. The mating pair arrived from Thailand’s Khao Kheow Open Zoo three years ago.

“We are very pleased that our efforts have paid off once again with the birth of this second litter. For a species of big cat facing many threats, every little kitten counts. We hope that this birth will go towards sustaining and increasing the population of clouded leopards both in captivity and in the wild,” said Mr. Subash Chandran, Assistant Director, Zoology, Night Safari.

Clouded leopards are the smallest of the big cats and their highly elusive nature, coupled with nocturnal lifestyle, mean that little is known about their population size and behaviour in the wild as they are very rarely seen. Listed as a vulnerable species by IUCN*, it is estimated that there are fewer than 10,000 individuals left in the wild. Clouded leopards are found primarily in lowland tropical rainforest habitats throughout Southeast Asia, Nepal and southern China. It is believed to be extinct in Taiwan. Population numbers are continuing to decline throughout their natural range due to habitat loss and poaching.

Well adapted to forest life, the clouded leopard has an exceptionally long tail – as long as its body – for balancing on trees. Their flexible ankles allow them to run down trees headfirst. Clouded leopards also have the longest canines of any feline, in proportion to their body size.

Night Safari displays clouded leopards at the Leopard Trail, one of the four walking trails in the park.

Mother Wandee watches over her cubs as they explore the surroundings.

A young clouded leopard

*International Union for Conservation of Nature

NIGHT SAFARI LION CUBS GET THEIR SHOTS

2 Comments

Singapore, 21 July 2011 – Three adorable lion cubs were born to Night Safari residents Khapat and Amba this March, and they recently had their booster ‘shots’ by the veterinary team.

The tawny three-month-olds were given a clean bill of health after a mandatory vaccination against respiratory and systemic infections. Their first health check took place two months after they were born on 21 March 2011, and they were given a general examination and microchipped for identification.

Similar to humans, animals can suffer from a variety of infectious diseases. Vaccinations are therefore essential in building immunity and prevention against diseases. This is especially important for the cubs when they are given outdoor access and placed on exhibit. Lion cubs usually get a booster shot when they are 12 weeks old and bi-annually thereafter.

“The practice of animal vaccination is recommended by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) is dedicated to continually improving standards of animal welfare based on the latest and best practices,” said Dr Serena Oh, Assistant Director, Veterinary, WRS.

The Asian lion is a unique subspecies that splits from the African lion. It is smaller in size and sports a less significant mane compared to its African cousin. Most of the wild Asian lion population is found in India’s Gir Forest, a protected santuary where about 300 of these magnificent animals roam. There are an additional 60 of them living in zoos. Under the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN), they are listed as ‘endangered’. One of the problems faced by the Asian lion in the wild is in-breeding which has resulted in weaker individuals. Through Night Safari’s captive breeding programme, WRS hopes to be able to increase the number of Asian lions both in the wild and in captivity. To date, Night Safari has successfully bred seven Asian lion cubs in captivity.

Vet staff doing a routine health check before administering the vaccine.

The cub is held down for the vaccination.

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

6 Comments

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

1 Comment

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.

GOODBYE SUN BEAR, HELLO WILD CATS!

3 Comments

Singapore, 29 April 2011Singapore Zoo visitors will soon have to be bid farewell to one-year-old Malayan sun bear, Indera. He will be making his way to the United Kingdom end May, where he will reside at the Rare Species Conservation Centre (RSCC), as part of an animal exchange programme.

Indera is the proud descendent of two generations of sun bears at the Singapore Zoo. Wildlife institutions around the world carry out animal exchanges to maximise genetic diversity and sustain captive breeding of the species. This helps to guarantee a captive population of the species should any natural or man-made disaster wipe out any one species in certain parts of the world.

The RSCC forms part of The Rare Species Conservation Trust which is a registered United Kingdom charity. It is home to the world’s lesser known rare and endangered species of animals and is an education and captive breeding facility. Other wildlife that reside at the RSCC include the extremely rare Bali starling, endangered Sambirano bamboo lemur and the New Guinea singing dog.

Found primarily in the rainforests of Southeast Asia, these elusive Malayan sun bears are the smallest yet most aggressive bear species and are classified as vulnerable in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list. Reliable estimates of sun bear populations are lacking.

In exchange for Indera, the Singapore Zoo will receive a pair of jaguarandi, a medium-sized wild cat which will be housed at the upcoming river-themed attraction the River Safari, and one fishing cat for the Night Safari.

Before Indera the young sun bear embarks on his new adventure, vets at WRS gave him a complete physical health check, including an x-ray, to ensure he is safe to travel.

Indera's health check

Indera's health check

Indera's health check

ROOTING FOR A REPTILE ROMANCE AT SINGAPORE ZOO

Leave a comment

KEEPERS RELOCATE FEMALE FALSE GHARIAL TO MEET POTENTIAL MATE

SINGAPORE, 27 Jul 2010 – It took the strength of more than 10 keepers at the Singapore Zoo to move a 3 metre long false gharial from her Bornean Marsh home early this month.

The 160kg reptile that has resided in the Zoo for the past 10 years was relocated to another exhibit because she was being bullied by a larger female. To keep the two females apart, keepers decided to move her to the Treetops Trail exhibit which is home to a 5m long, 600kg male. They hope the two massive crocodilians will take a liking to each other, and start breeding.

“By introducing these potential mates, we hope to diversify the gene pool and increase our numbers. Not much is known about the biology of this species in the wild. Currently, the estimated wild population is fewer than 2,500 individuals, so captive breeding could play a vital role in the recovery of this species” said Mr Subash Chandran, Curator, Singapore Zoo. Currently, Singapore Zoo houses 11 false gharials.

The false gharial or tomistoma, is a unique crocodilian that shares features with both the
Indian gharial and other crocodile species, including the saltwater crocodile. These reptiles have slightly thicker snouts compared to the Indian gharial, whose thin snout helps it catch fish underwater. Unlike the Indian gharial which feeds exclusively on fish, the false gharial also preys on small mammals such as monkeys and fruit bats. The false gharial is one of the largest crocodile species, reaching lengths of 5-6 metres and it also produces the largest eggs of any crocodile species.

Throughout zoos around the world, there has been little success with the captive breeding of false gharials. Following efforts to breed this species at the Singapore Zoo in recent years, mating of these unique crocodiles and egg laying by the females has been observed. However, the Zoo has yet to successfully hatch a baby false gharial.

The false gharial has a low population density and is classified as an endangered species. Once widely distributed in Indonesia, Malaysia and possibly Thailand, this species has declined throughout its range. Small remnant populations remain in Java and Peninsular Malaysia and there are low densities of the species in Sarawak, Sumatra and Kalimantan. The false gharial is now extinct in Thailand.

While the main threat to this species is habitat destruction, intensive hunting in some areas has also contributed to its decline. Other threats come from fishing practices, with false gharials either becoming tangled in fishing nets or losing their food source to local fisherman.

Singapore Zoo keepers hold the false gharial in place to calm and restrain the animal to ensure it doesn't injure itself or anyone around it

Singapore Zoo keepers moving the false gharial into a transportation container

Singapore Zoo keepers transporting the false gharial from the Bornean Marsh exhibit to the Treetops Trail

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 70 other followers