YOUNG PRINCE OF NIGHT SAFARI TURNS ONE

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WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE’S BABY ASIAN ELEPHANT CELEBRATES BIRTHDAY IN STYLE

Singapore, 20 November 2011 – Nila Utama, the first elephant to be born at the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari in nine years, is making yet another small but deep footprint today as he celebrates his first birthday at an exclusive tea party.

The little elephant, lovingly referred to as ‘Nila’ by his keepers and who is named after the Palembang prince who founded the kingdom of Singapura, will receive a giant birthday cake made with carrots, wheat and ice, among other ingredients, while his guests will enjoy delicious elephant-shaped mini cakes and other tea-time treats during the celebration.

As part of the 2-hour programme, invited guests will be taken on a gourmet safari tram ride at the Night Safari, which stops at the Asian elephants exhibit where the party will be held. They will get to see the Nila and his family frolicking in the water and observe the close bonds between the elephants and their keepers.

“The birth of Nila Utama was a significant milestone for us as it underscored the importance of education and conservation of Asian elephants in the wild,” said Mr. Kumar Pillai, General Manager, Night Safari. “This mini event is not only a birthday celebration for Nila – it also highlights the success of captive breeding programmes like ours and the plight of these beautiful animals in the wild.”

Currently housed at the Asian elephants exhibit at the Night Safari, the birthday boy is an active calf and has his own unique quirks. Keepers noticed his strong sense of independence right from his birth. He is also inquisitive and fun-loving, and always relishing the chance to play with the logs or those along his path at the exhibit. He also likes to swim and wallow in the mud whenever he has the chance.

Nila was born on 23 November last year to mother Nandong and father Chawang, and is the 11th addition to the population of Asian elephants at Wildlife Reserves Singapore, which manages the Night Safari, Singapore Zoo, Jurong Bird Park and the upcoming River Safari. He was a whopping 151kg at birth, and at 11 months of age, is a healthy elephant weighing 544 kilograms and measuring 1.38 metres in height. Considered large for a newborn at 1.5 times the average size, Nila arrived after 3 hours of labour. He has two siblings – 12-year-old Sang Raja which is currently at Cologne Zoo, Germany, and nine-year-old Sang Wira which still resides at the Night Safari.

Asian elephants are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and is protected from international trade by its listing on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). They are more endangered than their better recognised counterpart, the African elephants and the threat of habitat loss is eminent for these creatures. The native homes of the Asian elephants are often being logged and cleared for urban and agricultural development. They are also often captured and killed by poachers for their tusks.

Asian elephants are found in the forests of India, Sri Lanka, Laos, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia. These gentle giants survive on a diet of grass, leaves, bark, roots and fruits. Many of them are widely domesticated and are used for forestry, harvesting, or ceremonial purposes. There are only an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 Asian elephants left in the wild today.

For more information on the Asian elephants at the Night Safari, please visit http://www.nightsafari.com.sg

One-year-old baby elephant Nila Utama takes a walk with his mother, Sri Nandong, at the Night Safari.

WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE AND TRAFFIC SOUTHEAST ASIA JOINTLY ORGANISE PANGOLIN CONSERVATION WORKSHOP

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FINAL CALL FOR PANGOLINS

Singapore, June 30, 2008Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) and TRAFFIC Southeast Asia jointly organised a three-day pangolin conservation workshop to be held at the Singapore Zoo, starting today, to discuss the perilous situation facing pangolin populations in Asia, as its survival comes under increasing threat.

Pangolins are poached for their meat, consumed as food and used in traditional medicines across the region. Its numbers in the wild are dwindling rapidly in Asia with regular seizures by the authorities in Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. A majority of the shipments resulting from illegal poaching are destined for China.

“WRS is extremely fortunate to have been instrumental in bringing together key-decision makers and conservationists from 14 countries and territories around the region, to discuss and make recommendations that will hopefully secure and protect the future of pangolins in the wild. Through our collaboration with TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, we are able to approach the issue of illegal pangolin trade, from a more comprehensive conservation perspective, that includes both enforcement and legislative angles. Our main hope is to catalyse the region into seriously conserving one of the most unique species of biodiversity which we call our own, and to ensure that this cascades into actionable initiatives in the pangolin’s range countries.” said Ms Fanny Lai, Group CEO, Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

Pangolins, or scaly anteaters, are the most numerous mammal species found in confiscated illegal wildlife cargoes throughout Southeast Asia. In 2000, a complete ban on international trade of pangolins was adopted by Parties to CITES.

The three-day workshop will discuss issues and challenges of pangolin trade enforcement in Asia, conservation, its ecology and biology as well as husbandry and management in zoological institutions.

Workshop participants reflect the diversity of the problems and threats facing pangolins, and represent government as well as non-governmental agencies responsible for wildlife trade management coming from as far as China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Brunei, Laos and Singapore. During the workshop, participants will also develop an action plan to help relevant enforcement agencies focus their efforts to halt the illegal pangolin trade.

Participants’ recommendations will be sent to the CITES Secretariat, the International Criminal Police Organisation (ICPO)-Interpol, the World Customs Organisation (WCO) and national focal points of the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN), to ensure a coherent approach to information and intelligence sharing on pangolin trade in the region.

“This meeting is vital to the future survival of pangolins. It is now or never for pangolins. The poaching simply has to stop,” said Ms Azrina Abdullah, Director of TRAFFIC Southeast Asia.

In February and March 2008 alone, a staggering 23 tonnes of pangolin carcasses and scales, the remains of approximately 8,000 animals—were seized in Hai Phong, Vietnam, in a single week.

The commonest species currently in trade is believed to be the Malayan pangolin (Manis javanica), found in Malaysia and Indonesia; populations elsewhere in Asia have been decimated. Recent pangolin seizures have even involved African species.

In China, tough penalties can be imposed on pangolin smugglers, with two men receiving suspended death sentences in November 2007 and fined a total of RMB3 million (USD400,000) whilst their accomplices received jail sentences ranging between 10 years and life.

WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE SEES AN INCREASE IN ANIMALS DONATED TO THE PARKS

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637 ANIMALS DONATED IN 2007

Singapore, May 16, 2008 – The total number of animals donated to the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari rose to 460 in 2007, a sharp increase from the 118 animals donated in 2006. Jurong Bird Park received a total of 177 donations in 2007.

The majority of these were either brought in by the police or confiscated by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA). Confiscations from AVA constituted a seven-fold jump from 25 to 175, over the previous year. The animals were mainly reptiles, and included star tortoises, green iguanas, fly-river turtles and Southeast Asian soft-shell turtles.

Donated animals are quarantined upon arrival, to prevent the potential spread of diseases to the rest of the parks’ animal collection. During the quarantine period, the animals are cared for and administered by the parks’ team of vets and keepers. The team inspects the animals for signs of injury and illness and provide them with a diet comprising appropriate food, nutritional supplements and medication, if necessary.

The need to feed and care for donated animals is a responsibility that the Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) institutions take in their stride. Designated as Singapore’s official wildlife rescue centres, the Jurong BirdPark, Night Safari and Singapore Zoo are able to provide expert specialist care to a spectrum of exotic animals that enter the facilities. Over the last three decades, WRS parks have cared for and rescued more than 10,000 animals from all over the world, including Singapore.

The expertise to provide this assistance comes with years of experience in handling over 4,000 animals and 7,000 birds on a daily basis through the running of the three parks. WRS enjoy excellent relations and maintain constant communication with zoological institutions all over the world to keep abreast of the latest veterinary know-how. Staff are regularly sent on numerous overseas learning attachments, ensuring we are able to deal with anything from tarantulas to orang utans.

Ms Fanny Lai, CEO of Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said, “We see many cases each year of exotic animals brought in and subsequently abandoned when the host family realises they do not have the necessary skills or resources to care for them. These animals can be extremely difficult to upkeep and I strongly urge members of the public and animal lovers not to buy or raise exotic animals as pets.”

Management of donated animals
WRS’ parks manage these donations and confiscations in a variety of ways. Integration into the parks’ animal collection is one method. For example, a 2-week old slow loris that was donated by the public in August 2007 was hand-raised and is now in Night Safari’s collection. Slow lorises are listed on CITES Appendix I, which means trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.

In August 2007, a total of 139 confiscated Southeast Asian soft-shell turtles were brought in. Thirty-two had to be euthanased and 107 housed in Singapore Zoo. Of these, 61 are now surviving and the population have since stabilised. These turtles are on CITES Appendix II, which includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilisation incompatible with their survival. Also listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, these turtles are considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.

Native wildlife that were donated to the parks, such as the pangolins, have been microchipped, rehabilitated and released back into the wild. Some exotic animals have also been repatriated to the various countries of origin or to other zoo collections to participate in breeding programmes. For example, 15 star tortoises were sent to Lisbon Zoo for display and breeding purposes in March this year. Another donated slow loris will be making its way to Augsburg Zoo in Germany this June. Two male-female pairs of white-handed gibbons were sent to Canada and Sri Lanka respectively in 2006. Two thousand star tortoises were sent back to India in 2002 and 15 shingle-back skinks, a green tree python and a crocodile skink were sent to Detroit Zoo for re-homing and breeding purposes.

WRS would like to urge the public not to import or keep exotic animals as pets. To reiterate, under The Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act (ESA) it is an offence to import and export any endangered species without a permit from AVA. It is also an offence to possess, sell, offer or expose for sale, or display to the public any of these species, if it has been illegally imported. Any person or company caught violating the ESA is liable to be prosecuted in Court and fined up to a maximum of S$50,000 for each animal or plant, and/or imprisoned for a term up to 2 years.

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