EXPERTS AIM TO SAVE ONE OF SINGAPORE’S MOST THREATENED UNIQUE SPECIES AT INAUGURAL ROUNDTABLE ON FRESHWATER CRAB CONSERVATION

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NParks, NUS, IUCN, and WRS among agencies collaborating to save endemic crabs, including Johora singaporensis which is among the 100 most threatened species in the world.

Singapore, 29 March 2014Johora singaporensis, commonly called the Singapore freshwater crab, is arguably one of the most threatened unique species of Singapore. To discuss ways to develop an overall plan for conservation of this species, experts convened in the inaugural Roundtable on Freshwater Crab Conservation which began with a two-day closed-door panel discussion, and concluded with a public forum on 29 March 2014.

The critically endangered Singapore freshwater crab (Johora singaporensis), is among the 100 most threatened species in the world. Found only in Singapore, it grows up to 3cm across the carapace, or the shell, and up to 5cm with the legs stretched out. It performs an important role in the proper functioning of hill streams by helping in nutrient recycling, and is potentially an indicator of pollution and climate change. PHOTO CREDITS: DANIEL NG

The critically endangered Singapore freshwater crab (Johora singaporensis), is among the 100 most threatened species in the world. Found only in Singapore, it grows up to 3cm across the carapace, or the shell, and up to 5cm with the legs stretched out. It performs an important role in the proper functioning of hill streams by helping in nutrient recycling, and is potentially an
indicator of pollution and climate change. PHOTO CREDITS: DANIEL NG

The four organisations involved are National Parks Board (NParks), National University of Singapore (NUS), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS). The inaugural Roundtable on Freshwater Crab Conservation is funded by the Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund.

First discovered and described in 1986, the Singapore freshwater crab (Johora singaporensis) is listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, and is among the 100 most threatened species in the world. This endemic species, only found in Singapore, grows up to 3cm across the carapace, or the shell, and up to 5cm with the legs stretched out. It performs an important role in the proper functioning of hill streams by helping in nutrient recycling, and is potentially an indicator of pollution and climate change.

The critically endangered Singapore freshwater crab (Johora singaporensis), is among the 100 most threatened species in the world. Found only in Singapore, it grows up to 3cm across the carapace, or the shell, and up to 5cm with the legs stretched out. It performs an important role in the proper functioning of hill streams by helping in nutrient recycling, and is potentially an indicator of pollution and climate change. PHOTO CREDITS: CAI YIXIONG

The critically endangered Singapore freshwater crab (Johora singaporensis), is among the 100 most threatened species in the world. Found only in Singapore, it grows up to 3cm across the carapace, or the shell, and up to 5cm with the legs stretched out. It performs an important role in the proper functioning of hill streams by helping in nutrient recycling, and is potentially an indicator of pollution and climate change. PHOTO CREDITS: CAI YIXIONG

“When I discovered and named this species in the 1980s, I had no idea that its future would be a matter of debate and concern some 25 years on,” said Professor Peter Ng of the Department of Biological Sciences at the NUS Faculty of Science. “It heartens me that so many people are now trying to save this ‘insignificant invertebrate’ from imminent extinction. It would indeed have been a dark tragedy if discovering the species all those years ago was merely a prelude to its extinction. I hope it is not.”

“Crabs such as Johora singaporensis are typically found in hill streams, which is a rare habitat in Singapore to begin with, being restricted to only the central part of the island,” added Assistant Professor Darren Yeo, who is also with the Department of Biological Sciences at the NUS Faculty of Science.

Decade-long monitoring of the populations of Johora singaporensis has revealed that these crabs have an environmental preference for relatively clean and fast-flowing streams in the highlands with a near neutral pH. Presently, the crab is found largely in Bukit Batok, Bukit Gombak and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. They can persist even in small fragmented habitats under the right conditions. Current conservation efforts include plans to establish a breeding programme, as well as an ongoing two-year research project launched in 2013 by NParks and NUS to study the conditions of the crabs’ existing habitats and possible remedial actions. As conservation efforts gain momentum, the next important milestone is to gather key stakeholders together to improve them.

The Roundtable on Freshwater Crab Conservation brings together key stakeholders involved in conservation of the iconic Johora singaporensis, for consolidation and dissemination of results of ongoing freshwater crab conservation efforts in Singapore. Foreign and local ecologists including researchers from the National University of Singapore and officers from the National Parks Board working on Johora singaporensis, as well as other members from Wildlife Reserves Singapore, Nature Society Singapore, Ministry of Defence, Singapore Land Authority, National Environment Agency, Public Utilities Board, and Urban Redevelopment Authority have all been invited to participate, brainstorm, contribute their unique perspectives, and help mould a future conservation plan for this species.

Dr Lena Chan, Director of National Biodiversity Centre, NParks, said, “NParks is committed to the conservation of our native freshwater organisms, particularly endemic species like the Singapore Freshwater Crab Johora singaporensis, Johnson’s Freshwater Crab Irmengardia johnsoni and Swamp Forest Crab Parathelphusa reticulata. We look forward to our usual amicable multi-agency co-operation which is crucial for the success of this conservation initiative.”

Dr Neil Cumberlidge, Chair of the IUCN SSC Freshwater Crab and Crayfish Specialist Group, and Dr Philip McGowan of the IUCN Species Survival Conservation Planning Sub-Committee will both participate in the Roundtable, adding valuable inputs to the design of the conservation plan. Dr McGowan said, “Effective conservation in today’s world has to balance the needs of species with those of people and their interests. Our approach has evolved to reflect that. The purpose of strategic planning is to understand what is driving the threats to the Singapore freshwater crab and then develop a holistic and realistic way forward that gives this iconic species the best chance of survival. Strategic planning on its own will not save the species, but the understanding and agreement that is part of the planning process, greatly improves its survival prospects.”

Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Chief Life Sciences Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore said, “Wildlife Reserves Singapore is continuously exploring ways we can work with field researchers, and contribute to the ex-situ conservation of Johora singaporensis. A possible method may be to establish a trial breeding project in River Safari for these native crabs, followed by the eventual reintroduction of the species into restored, rehabilitated streams.”

This Roundtable is also indicative of Singapore’s willingness and seriousness regarding the protection of its freshwater biodiversity and the ‘not-so-charismatic’ fauna.

ASIA’S FIRST GIANT RIVER OTTER BABY AMONG MORE THAN 400 BIRTHS AT WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

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Wildlife Reserves Singapore marks World Animal Day with tribute to babies born at Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari, River Safari and Singapore Zoo.

Singapore, 3 October 2013Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) marks World Animal Day with a presentation of furry, feathery and slithery babies born in Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari, River Safari and Singapore Zoo. The four parks saw more than 400 animal babies born between January and August this year, charming visitors with their adorable antics.

Among the most exciting births at WRS is that of Asia’s first giant river otter baby at River Safari. Born on 10 August, the unnamed male pup now weighs 1.6kg and measures 60cm. While it may be small now, giant otters can grow to an incredible length of 1.8m and weigh up to 34kg. River Safari is the first zoological institution in Asia to feature the endangered giant river otter, the largest of the world’s 13 otter species. Found only in South American river systems, giant otters are ferocious predators that hunt piranhas, anacondas and even caimans, earning them the title “river wolves”. Often hunted extensively for their fur and threatened by habitat loss, these river giants are now amongst the rarest otters in the world.

Since its birth on 10 August, Asia’s first giant river otter baby and his mother have been left alone in their den to bond. In a few weeks’ time, the pup will enter River Safari’s Amazon Flooded Forest exhibit where his parents will teach him how to swim. The parents, Carlos and Carmen, are from Germany’s Hamburg and Duisburg Zoo respectively, and arrived in Singapore in August 2012 as part of an animal exchange and breeding programme.

Since its birth on 10 August, Asia’s first giant river otter baby and his mother have been left alone in their den to bond. In a few weeks’ time, the pup will enter River Safari’s Amazon Flooded Forest exhibit where his parents will teach him how to swim. The parents, Carlos and Carmen, are from Germany’s Hamburg and Duisburg Zoo respectively, and arrived in Singapore in August 2012 as part of an animal exchange and breeding programme.

Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Chief Life Sciences Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said: “We have maintained an excellent record of success in our captive breeding programme, and visitors to our parks are often pleasantly surprised to find adorable animal babies. The landmark birth of Asia’s first giant river otter baby represents the culmination of efforts and dedication of our zoology team in adopting and maintaining the highest standards of husbandry. With increasing threats such as habitat destruction and poaching, captive breeding programmes play a pivotal role in conserving threatened species for our future generations.”

Malayan tapir Putri, born on 3 June, enjoys her forest floor playtime at Night Safari. The Malayan tapir is one of the most endangered animals in Southeast Asia. Populations are declining due to poaching and habitat loss from deforestation for agricultural purposes.

Malayan tapir Putri, born on 3 June, enjoys her forest floor playtime at Night Safari. The Malayan tapir is one of the most endangered animals in Southeast Asia. Populations are declining due to poaching and habitat loss from deforestation for agricultural purposes.

Aside from the birth of the giant otter, over 100 species were born or hatched in the four WRS parks, of which 37 are classified as threatened in the *IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. These include the orang utan, manatee, hyacinth macaw and Malayan tapir. Through the years, WRS parks have exchanged many of these animals with other reputable zoos for breeding purposes.

*International Union for Conservation of Nature

POLAR BEAR INUKA MOVES INTO NEW FROZEN TUNDRA EXHIBIT AT SINGAPORE ZOO

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First polar bear born in the tropics back with new neighbours, the raccoon dogs and wolverines.

Inuka, the first polar bear born in the tropics

Inuka, the first polar bear born in the tropics

Singapore, 29 May 2013 – The first polar bear born in the tropics, Singapore Zoo’s very own Inuka, moved into his new Frozen Tundra home today during a grand ‘housecooling’ party. The 2,700 sq metre exhibit features climate controlled resting areas, an expanded pool for Inuka to swim in, and two new sections for Inuka’s new neighbours: raccoon dogs and wolverines.

Modelled closely after the arctic habitat, some of the innovative features of Frozen Tundra that help replicate the chilly climate of the arctic include a new, larger pool filled with giant ice blocks so Inuka can enjoy refreshing swims, and an ice cave where he can retire to, to enjoy a polar siesta. Natural substrates have also been incorporated to provide him with a rich and varied home.

Frozen Tundra is the result of Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS)’s commitment to upgrade Inuka’s living space and also reinforce WRS’ vision of providing visitors with interactive and enriching wildlife exhibits that provide for greater knowledge of the natural world, including of the climate, wildlife and issues facing the arctic habitat.

“At Singapore Zoo, we remain committed to not only providing a fun and beautiful park where families can bond over the wonders of mother nature, but also to our vision of engaging and educating our visitors about the natural world, the animals that share our planet and their habitats. This is a core value of Singapore Zoo,” said Mr Lee Meng Tat, CEO, WRS. “Those values and goals go hand in hand with our deep love of our animal friends here at Singapore Zoo, and Inuka is a shining example of that love.”

Dr Lee Boon Yang, Chairman of SPH and SPH Foundation, officiated the launch ceremony of Frozen Tundra with Mr Lee and WRS board member Mr Chia Ngiang Hong. SPH Foundation is a long-time adopter of Inuka.

The launch of Frozen Tundra also showcases Inuka’s new neighbours, the raccoon dogs and wolverines. Raccoon dogs, also known as tanuki, are native to East Asia. Frozen Tundra’s raccoon dogs are named Pom and Poko and come from Japan’s Asahiyama Zoo.

Wolverines are the largest land-dwelling species of the weasel family. Native across the Northern Hemisphere, wolverines have adapted to a wide range of habitats. Frozen Tundra’s wolverines are a brother and sister pair named Boris and Ivana from Russia’s Novosibirsk Zoo.

The idea of creating a new habitat for Inuka was conceptualised in 2006, and Frozen Tundra was designed to not only give Inuka a bigger space but more importantly, create a new exhibit that provides visitors a window into the arctic world from which Inuka’s ancestors came from. Native to the Arctic Circle, polar bears are the world’s largest land carnivore and adult males can weigh up to 700 kg.

Classified as vulnerable by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), the bear occupies a narrow ecological niche and preys almost exclusively on seals. Polar bears hunt mostly on ice floes in winter months, and retreating sea ice due to global warming has resulted in the diminishing of their hunting grounds and food sources. If global temperatures continue to rise, polar bears may become extinct across most of their range within a hundred years.

Frozen Tundra opens daily to the public from 29 May 2013. Visiting hours are from 8.30am to 6pm.

Dr Lee Boon Yang, Chairman of SPH and SPH Foundation, officiated the launch ceremony of Frozen Tundra with Mr Lee and WRS board member Mr Chia Ngiang Hong. SPH Foundation is a long-time adopter of Inuka.

Dr Lee Boon Yang, Chairman of SPH and SPH Foundation, officiated the launch ceremony of Frozen Tundra with Mr Lee and WRS board member Mr Chia Ngiang Hong. SPH Foundation is a long-time adopter of Inuka.

Frozen Tundra is the result of Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS)’s commitment to upgrade Inuka’s living space and also reinforce WRS’ vision of providing visitors with interactive and enriching wildlife exhibits that provide for greater knowledge of the natural world, including of the climate, wildlife and issues facing the arctic habitat.

Frozen Tundra is the result of Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS)’s commitment to upgrade Inuka’s living space and also reinforce WRS’ vision of providing visitors with interactive and enriching wildlife exhibits that provide for greater knowledge of the natural world, including of the climate, wildlife and issues facing the arctic habitat.

The first polar bear born in the tropics, Singapore Zoo’s very own Inuka, moved into his new Frozen Tundra home during a grand ‘housecooling’ party on 29 May 2013. Frozen Tundra was designed to not only give Inuka a bigger space but more importantly, create a new exhibit that provides visitors a window into the arctic world

The first polar bear born in the tropics, Singapore Zoo’s very own Inuka, moved into his new Frozen Tundra home during a grand ‘housecooling’ party on 29 May 2013. Frozen Tundra was designed to not only give Inuka a bigger space but more importantly, create a new exhibit that provides visitors a window into the arctic world

Modelled closely after the arctic habitat, some of the innovative features of Frozen Tundra that help replicate the chilly climate of the arctic include a new, larger pool filled with giant ice blocks so Inuka can enjoy refreshing swims, and an ice cave where he can retire to, to enjoy a polar siesta.

Modelled closely after the arctic habitat, some of the innovative features of Frozen Tundra that help replicate the chilly climate of the arctic include a new, larger pool filled with giant ice blocks so Inuka can enjoy refreshing swims, and an ice cave where he can retire to, to enjoy a polar siesta.

ALL HAIL THE KINGS AT JURONG BIRD PARK

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JURONG BIRD PARK IS THE FIRST IN SOUTH EAST ASIA AND THE SECOND GLOBALLY TO SUCCESSFULLY BREED THE KING BIRD-OF-PARADISE

Two king bird-of-paradise hatchlings at 14 days old

Fully fledged king bird-of-paradise chicks being fed by the mother

Singapore, 19 July 2012Jurong Bird Park is the first in South East Asia and the second institution globally to successfully breed the king bird-of-paradise. Out of a clutch of two eggs, two chicks hatched on 18 May, bringing the total number of king bird-of-paradise at the Bird Park to five.

Jurong Bird Park first attempted to breed the king bird-of-paradise in 2010. That year, one egg by a breeding pair was found broken and the other was infertile. The inexperienced female king bird-of-paradise was also observed to be throwing eggs out of the nest box. Although the breeding pair was moved to an off-exhibit side aviary in 2011, successful hatchings were not to be achieved until a year later in 2012. Keepers decided to try something slightly different this year. They reused a nest box which already had a nest, abandoned by another female king bird-of-paradise. The present ‘mother’ accepted the nest and laid 2 eggs soon after.

Birds only breed in conditions they feel secure and comfortable in – and this species usually nests at heights of 3metres in the wild. In this instance, although the off-exhibit side aviary had less vegetation for camouflage, and the nest box was lower from the ground at 1.5metres, this breeding pair felt safe in the environment that Bird Park created for them.

“We are very proud to welcome not one, but two king bird-of-paradise hatchlings. Breeding and taking care of birds is not an exact science, and it took two years of dedication and keen observation by our keepers to achieve this. Although listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, restrictions have made it difficult to acquire more numbers of the king bird-of-paradise from New Guinea, so the two hatchlings will certainly add to the collection we have in Bird Park,” said Mr Raja Segran, General Manager, Jurong Bird Park.

Interestingly enough, the king bird-of-paradise is the smallest species of bird-of-paradise. Females are unadorned and a dull brown, while the males are crimson and white with bright blue feet and green-tipped fan-like-plumes on its shoulder. The two elongated tail wires are decorated with emerald green disk feathers on its tip. The king bird-of-paradise is distributed throughout lowland forests of New Guinea and nearby islands. This so-called “living gem” is the smallest and most vividly colored among birds of paradise. The diet consists mainly of fruit and arthropods. An extraordinary display is performed by the male with a series of tail swinging, fluffing of its abdomen white feathers that makes the bird look like a cottonball, and acrobatic pendulum displays.

BIG AND BEAUTIFUL BUNDLE BOUNDS INTO SINGAPORE ZOO

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BABY WHITE RHINOCEROS IS 13TH TO BE BORN HERE

SINGAPORE, 11 Jul 2012 — Singapore Zoo recently celebrated the birth of its 13th white rhino, an adorable and curious youngster named Jumaane.

Jumaane, which means “born on Tuesday”, arrived on 10 April this year, which of course, is a Tuesday. Weighing approximately 70kg at birth, he is undoubtedly one of the biggest bundles of joy Singapore Zoo has welcomed to date.

Jumaane (front) was born on 10 April 2012, weighing a hefty 70kg. At birth, rhino calves can weigh between 40-70kg. Over the years, he will grow to an estimated male adult weight of 2,300kg.

Baby Jumaane can be seen exploring or rolling around in the mud in his spacious exhibit at the Wild Africa region of the Zoo. His mother, Shova is always close by though, keeping a watchful eye on her precious baby.

Prolific yet protective: 28-year old Shova stays close by while her baby finds his footing around their exhibit. Jumaane is Shova’s seventh calf.

Baby Jumaane excitedly enjoys exploring his exhibit, which is landscaped to resemble the white rhino’s African habitat.

Crash course: Jumaane is already building bonds with the other rhino residents. Here, he is sharing a nosey moment with 2-year old female Kito, who was also born in Singapore Zoo [Note: A group of rhinos is known as ‘a crash of rhinos’]

White rhinos are considered near threatened in the wild on the IUCN’s* Red List of Threatened species. Together with the Indian rhino, it is the largest species of land mammal after the elephant. They are hunted for their horns, which some believe as having medicinal properties. In fact, the horns are actually made of keratin, the same type of protein that makes up hair and fingernails, and there has been no scientific evidence to suggest that they are a cure for anything.

Singapore Zoo currently has eight of these majestic creatures in its collection, and boasts the most number of white rhinos bred in a single zoo in Southeast Asia. Of the 13 babies born here, some have been sent to Indonesia, Australia, Thailand and Korea as part of the Zoo’s ex-situ conservation efforts through its worldwide exchange programme.

Meet the white rhinos during their daily 1.15pm feeding session—the first ever in Asia—and experience an up close and personal encounter with these giants.

*International Union for the Conservation of Nature
PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

NIGHT SAFARI CELEBRATES BIRTH OF RARE CLOUDED LEOPARDS

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- 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

BOUNCY BABIES ABOUND AT SINGAPORE ZOO’S AUSTRALIAN OUTBACK

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- MARVELOUS MARSUPIALS FROM DOWN UNDER DOING WELL ON OUR SUNNY ISLAND
- VISITORS CAN NOW ENJOY THE ENDANGERED GOODFELLOW’S TREE KANGAROO IN THEIR NEW EXHIBIT

Singapore, 29 May 2012 – Recent visitors to Singapore Zoo may have noticed some tiny tots hopping around, their watchful mothers not far off. Like our human toddlers, these furry new additions to Australian Outback are active and quite adorable, but make a lot less noise!

We’re proud to announce the arrival of four new babies to our marsupial family– two Eastern grey kangaroos and two Agile wallabies.

Little Bella peeping out curiously from mum’s pouch

Bella now, comfortably and confidently exploring the exhibit on her own

Close to one-year-old now, Eastern grey juvenile Bella is coping well despite having lost her mother, Boo Boo, earlier this year. In the first few days after Boo Boo’s demise, Bella was observed to be showing signs of depression, as the pair had naturally been very close. However, she’s bounced out of it and is now having a great time exploring her large, naturalistic exhibit with her newfound friends – three other Eastern grey kangaroos.

Another Eastern grey, Tayla, gave birth on 28 December 2011 and is now nursing a joey in her pouch.

Proud mum Tayla poses for the camera with baby’s head and limbs peeking out of her pouch.

Unlike other mammals, kangaroos and wallabies give birth to undeveloped babies, called joeys. The baby uses its more developed forelegs to make its way through the thick fur on its mother’s abdomen into the pouch. This journey takes about three to five minutes. Once in the pouch, it fastens onto one of its mother’s four teats and starts to feed. After about 190 days, it is ready to make a full emergence from the pouch.

Our youngest baby girl is curious and just a little shy

Another two Agile wallaby babies have joined us at Australian Outback too, bringing the total collection to 10. These shy but curious creatures, also known as sandy wallabies, can be seen resting in their exhibit most of the time, but sometimes wander up to guests and their keepers. One has been fondly christened “Krookie” due to its crooked tail, while the other younger addition has yet to be named.

“While the Eastern Grey kangaroo and Agile wallaby are not endangered species, their presence in our Zoo allows our visitors to see animals not usually found in our climate and learn more about wildlife in general. In the long run, we hope to cultivate a love for the environment and all creatures, endangered or not,” said Mr Alagappasamy Chellaiyah, Assistant Director, Zoology, Singapore Zoo.

When visiting our adorable babies, remember to also stop by the new Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo exhibit. Native to Irian Jaya and Papua New Guinea, our pair of Goodfellows, Kimbe and Mava came from San Diego Zoo (United States) and Zoo Krefeld (Poland) respectively, and are just getting used to visitors (and each other) as they explore their new environment.

Though slow and clumsy on the ground, Goodfellow’s tree kangaroos are bold and agile in trees, and have been known to jump from heights of 9m to the ground with ease. Kimbe, one of two in our collection, has fun scaling the trees in her exhibit.

Goodfellow’s tree kangaroos are classified as endangered in the wild by the IUCN*, and are mainly threatened by human activities such as hunting and encroachment on their habitats. They are characterised by their striking chestnut to red-brown colour, long golden-brown tail and two golden stripes which run down their backs.

Come down to Australian Outback and marvel at other mysterious creatures from Down Under, such as the cassowary and carpet python. Our Feed-a-Roo sessions, where guests can feed and interact with our kangaroos and wallabies, take place at 11:00am and 4:00pm daily.

*International Union for the Conservation of Nature

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.

KITTY CATS GALORE AT NIGHT SAFARI

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DOUBLE SURPRISE AS WORLD’S FIRST SAFARI PARK FOR NOCTURNAL ANIMALS WELCOMES BIRTH OF FISHING CATS AND BEARCATS

A pair of fishing cat kittens (left) and a pair of bearcat cubs (right) PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

24 April 2012 – The world’s first Night Safari recently celebrated the birth of a pair of fishing cats and bearcats. The fishing cats were born on January 13 while the bearcat litter joined approximately two weeks later, on January 26.

The young fishing cats, one male and one female, are currently being hand-raised to increase the kittens’ chances of survival, as their four-year-old mother is relatively inexperienced. At three-months-old, the kittens weigh approximately 3kg and are growing strong and healthy.

The two other cubs – both currently weighing 2.5kg – are binturongs, also known as bearcats. Over the years, the park has successfully bred 60 bearcats. This secretive animal has a face like a cat’s and a body like a bear’s. Despite its name, the bearcat is neither a bear nor a cat. It is actually a member of the civet family. Found primarily on treetops in the rainforest of south and southeast Asia, bearcats have a mixed diet of fruits, leaves, birds, carrion, fish and eggs.

Due to habitat destruction, the numbers of fishing cats and bearcats are declining in the wild. In addition to habitat loss, over-exploitation of local fish stocks threatens the survival of fishing cats. Bearcats are captured for the pet trade, and their skins and body parts are traded for traditional medicine in some Asian countries. Fishing cats are listed as endangered on the IUCN* Red List of Threatened Species while bearcats are classified as vulnerable.

Night Safari displays the bearcats and fishing cats in the Fishing Cat Trail.

Being one of the few cats that love water, fishing cats eat primarily fish but will also prey on crustaceans, frogs and snakes. The cat attracts fish by lightly tapping the water's surface with its paw, mimicking insect movements. It then dives into the water to catch the fish.

A curious fishing cat kitten explores its area. Fishing cats are commonly found near densely vegetated areas near the marshes, mangrove swamps and rivers of Asia.

In Malay, the bearcat is also known as “musang manis” – the word “manis” means sweet and this relates to the animal’s pleasant scent, which is said to smell like pandan leaves or popcorn. The bearcat is actually a civet, which is characterised by an elongated body and anal scent glands that produce secretions for scent marking.

A bearcat cub demonstrates its ability to hang upside down with its long, prehensile tail to grip on the tree branch. The tail is also equipped with a leathery patch at the end for extra grip.

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.

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