RARE BLUE AND BLACK PARROT BEAUTIES MAKE THEIR DEBUT AND CALL JURONG BIRD PARK HOME

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Blue-throated macaw hatchling. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Singapore, 21 May 2012 – Two critically endangered blue-throated macaws, three red-tailed black cockatoos and four endangered hyacinth macaws have hatched at the Jurong Bird Park’s Breeding & Research Centre (BRC). These nine breeding successes, ages ranging from three to nine months, are part of the Bird Park’s carefully managed breeding programme.

The blue-throated macaw siblings are the first ever hatchlings of this species at the Park. They hatched on 17 and 23 December last year after an incubation period of 26 days at the BRC, which is a dedicated area to ensure the welfare, breeding and promulgation of birdlife. Weighing in at 14 g and 15 g at hatching, blue-throated macaws are difficult to breed in captivity, as compatibility is an important requirement for them with regards to the environment and their breeding partner.

It took seven years of persistent research by the avicultural team at the BRC and the Avian Hospital before two fertile eggs were laid, and even more care went into ensuring that the chicks had a diet optimised for their species and their growth. When they hatched, they were fed with baby formula and were gradually introduced to a diet of various fruit such as apples, pears, papayas, and bananas, nuts such as walnuts, macadamia nuts and sunflower seeds at three months.

Although listed as Least Concern on the IUCN, the red-tailed black cockatoo is prohibited from export from Australia, making this species extremely rare in captivity. This is also the first time Jurong Bird Park has successfully bred them in captivity. The three siblings hatched in three different clutches last year, with one egg per clutch on 2 August, 9 September and 20 October.

Before fertile eggs could be laid, endoscopy was performed by the veterinarian to ensure that the breeding pair was healthy, and was ready for breeding. The BRC team also changed the nest for them by providing the birds with a log with a cavity, instead of a wooden nest box. The birds are now in the new Australian themed exhibit at Parrot Paradise, which houses seven cockatoo species endemic to Australia.

Hyacinth macaws were last bred in the Bird Park in May 2010. This breeding season, three clutches of four eggs produced four sibling chicks hatching between November 2011 and April 2012. Similarly with the red-tailed black cockatoo, endoscopy was also carried out prior to breeding. For the parents of these chicks, a veterinary check revealed that their fat intake needed to be increased to get the birds in prime breeding condition, so walnuts and macadamias were added to their diet during the breeding season.

“We are so thrilled to have a 100% success rate with the blue-throated macaw, red-tailed black cockatoo and the hyacinth macaw this breeding season. In particular, there are only about 100 – 150 blue throated macaws left in the wilds of north-central Bolivia, and we hope that they will be valuable additions to the global captive breeding population of blue-throated macaws,” noted Mr Raja Segran, General Manager, Jurong Bird Park.

WHEN TWO’S A COUPLE AND THREE’S NOT A CROWD

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JURONG BIRD PARK CELEBRATES LATEST CUDDLY ADDITION TO ITS AFRICAN PENGUIN COLONY

Singapore, 05 October 2011 – Less than a year after moving to a new home, a pair of African penguins are proud parents of a feisty penguin chick. The couple, who were originally residents of Singapore Zoo, started breeding and nesting soon after relocating to their new home in Jurong Bird Park.

The cuddly chick was hatched on 22 August 2011 and at just 10 days old, weighed 425g; a desirable weight for an African penguin hatchling. Unlike adult penguins, a hatchling usually dons a grey juvenile plumage after its first moult of feathers which occurs between its second and third month of life.

“We are delighted to welcome Bird Park’s first African penguin chick. Birds normally breed when they feel safe, happy and secure in their environment. Although the penguins have been here for only 9 months, they have already acclimatised to their new environment under the watchful eye of the keepers. The hatchling is the first for the five-year-old female penguin, Mate,” said Mr Raja Segran, General Manager, Jurong Bird Park. “While Mate and the male African penguin, Captain, have very good chemistry, they required some help from our keepers when it came to nesting at their new home at the Park.”

As part of the husbandry procedures in the Bird Park, avian keepers provided sand and hay as nesting materials to encourage them to breed. Diet also plays an important part, and all the above, coupled with tender loving care from the keepers, were key in making the African penguins feel comfortable and secure to engage in breeding.

Previously categorised as ‘Vulnerable’ under the IUCN Red List for bird species, African penguins are now recognised as an endangered species. The decline in the population is attributed to lack of food due to over-fishing in surrounding waters. Other reasons include hunting by predators and egg-collecting.

Commonly found in the offshore islands along the coast of South Africa and Namibia, these penguins are also widely known as Jackass penguins because of their donkey-like bray. Easily seen with black stripes and spots similar to the Humboldt penguin, African Penguins are the only penguin species which are adaptable to temperate climates.

The Penguin Coast, consisting of an outdoor and an indoor exhibit spanning 1,600 metres, is home to six penguin species at the bird park. The indoor climate-controlled den features the Humboldts, Rockhopper, Macaroni, Fairy and King Penguins, while African Penguins bask in the outdoor enclosure.

Mate and Captain

Mate and Captain

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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