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

CONSERVATION OF PANGOLINS GIVEN HOPE AT INAUGURAL ‘SCALING UP PANGOLIN CONSERVATION’ CONFERENCE

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First ever conference by IUCN Pangolin Specialist Group and Wildlife Reserves Singapore to be a global voice in the protection and conservation of pangolins.

Pangolin and young

Pangolin and young

Singapore/London, 19 June 2013 – Wildlife Reserves Singapore and the International Union for Conservation of Nature Species Survival Commission (IUCN-SSC) Pangolin Specialist Group have come together to organise the first ever global conference on the rather shy, nocturnal pangolins which for years have been under threat from poachers for their meat and scales.

Themed ‘Scaling up Pangolin Conservation’, the four day conference from 24 – 27 June held at Night Safari aims to devise an overarching conservation strategy to improve their conservation efforts with specific and measurable initiatives, and to provide input into formal IUCN Red List assessments to reassess their status to further protect the species.

Professor Jonathan Baillie, Conservation Programmes Director at the Zoological Society of London and Co-Chair of the IUCN-SSC Pangolin Specialist Group said, “This is a landmark event in pangolin conservation, we will have 50 researchers from around the world gathered to set a road-map for conserving pangolins over the next decade. Especially important here is formulating ways to reduce demand for pangolins in Asia.”

While they may look like walking pine-cones, pangolins, or scaly-anteaters as they are also known, are one of the most trafficked mammals in Asia, and increasingly, in Africa. Globally, they are illegally traded in their tens of thousands each year.

This trade is primarily to China and Vietnam where they are considered a delicacy and their scales used in traditional medicines. In response to the magnitude of trade and other threats including loss of habitat and ill-considered land management practices, the IUCN-SSC Pangolin Specialist Group, an expert group of pangolin conservationists, was established in February 2012.

“Rapid action is urgently needed if pangolins in Africa and Asia are to be conserved given the rate at which they are being exploited for East Asian luxury markets,” commented Dan Challender, Co-Chair of the IUCN-SSC Pangolin Specialist Group and doctoral candidate at the University of Kent’s Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology.

The inaugural pangolin conference is part of Wildlife Reserves Conservation Fund’s (WRSCF) efforts to conserve endangered native wildlife. Since its inception in 2009, the Fund has supported various projects and conferences.

Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Chief Life Sciences Officer at Wildlife Reserves Singapore said, “For years WRS has been working on helping our critically endangered species locally, via research and captive breeding. We are very pleased to co-organise and host this event, bringing together the foremost pangolin experts in the world, striving to find a strategy that will help this group of unique animals globally.”

To further raise public awareness to the plight faced by the pangolins, a free for public seminar will be held on 28 June from 12.30pm – 4pm at the Forest Lodge in Singapore Zoo with a series of four talks by experts:

  1. Trade in wildlife for meat and medicines pushing Southeast Asian species towards extinction by Chris Shepherd, Acting Regional Director for TRAFFIC in South-East Asia
  2. From the IUCN SSC and new technology for addressing illegal wildlife trade by Jonathan Baillie, Conservation Programmes Director at the Zoological Society of London and Co-Chair of the IUCN-SSC Pangolin Specialist Group
  3. The pangolin trade in Asia by Dan Challender, Co-Chair of the IUCN-SSC Pangolin Specialist Group and doctoral candidate at the University of Kent’s Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology
  4. Pangolins of Singapore: In situ and ex situ conservation efforts by Razak Jaffar, Assistant Curator, Night Safari, Wildlife Reserves Singapore

As there are limited seats to the public seminar available, interested participants are advised to RSVP by 21 June to Yap Xinli at xinli.yap@wrs.com.sg.

Additionally, to extend the message on pangolin conservation even further to the visitors at Night Safari, an outreach programme has been planned. Visitors to Night Safari on 21, 22, 28 and 29 June will be able to hear more about pangolins from the keepers at a short 15minute session starting from 9.15pm at the Pangolin Exhibit along the Fishing Cat Trail. Over the years, Night Safari has fine-tuned captive management of these unassuming creatures and has achieved a global first: The world’s first institution successfully to breed and raise the Sunda pangolin in captivity.

The ‘SCALING UP PANGOLIN CONSERVATION’ CONFERENCE has been made possible thanks to the generous support of Wildlife Reserves Singapore, Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund, the Zoological Society of London, San Antonio Zoo, the Houston Zoo, TRAFFIC and Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong.

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.

SINGAPORE ZOO’S PRIMATE KINGDOM WELCOMES PRINCE OF PEACE

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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

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.

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