SINGAPORE ZOO PLEDGES TO KEEP FROGS LEAPING AHEAD OF EXTINCTION

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INTRODUCTION OF FROG KIT AIMED AT CELEBRATING AND RAISING AWARENESS OF FROGS AMONG LOCALS

Singapore, 28 February 2012 — This Leap Year, Singapore Zoo is jumping into action with the introduction of a Frog Kit, aimed at creating awareness and generating interest in local biodiversity, with a focus on our native amphibian friends such as the four-lined tree frog and common greenback species.

During the trial phase, the Frog Kit was distributed to several international and local schools and has received positive feedback from children as young as six. Students from the Canadian International School had a perfect score and successfully released 10 four-lined tree froglets into the pond at Singapore Zoo’s Tropical Crops plantation last March, after looking after them for about five weeks.

The Frog Kit allows its caretakers a first-hand experience of the frog’s intriguing metamorphosis – from egg to tadpole to froglet to adult frog. By being a part of its life cycle, both adults and children will hopefully develop a greater appreciation for these creatures and the wonders of nature.

They may not be the best animals to cuddle up with, but frogs do have a part to play in helping man, as pest control through their diet of insects, such as mosquitoes. Frogs can also tell us if an environment is healthy. Their permeable skin easily absorbs toxic chemicals, which means they are sensitive to very slight changes in the environment. Therefore, if anything drastic happens to frog populations around us, it is an indication that something is wrong in our biosphere as a whole.

The Frog Kit also ties in with the Primary School Science syllabus topic of animal life cycles, and Singapore Zoo hopes more local schools will embrace the kit in the coming months.

This initiative is part of a worldwide event called Leaping Ahead of Extinction: A celebration of good news for amphibians in 2012, coordinated by Amphibian Ark (AArk) to coincide with Leap Day on 29 February. The AArk is a joint effort of three principal partners: the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), the IUCN/SSC* Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG), and the IUCN/SSC Amphibian Specialist Group (ASG).

To date, 51 institutions from 17 countries have confirmed their participation in this global event, which focuses on promoting successes in the conservation of amphibians in captivity and in the wild, especially highlighting projects that involve the release of frogs into the wild.

Last weekend, Singapore Zoo’s “Leap Here!” event which featured frog-related interactive games attracted close to 750 children between 7-12 years. If you’re visiting the Singapore Zoo on Leap Day this year, look out for additional frog information at Fragile Forest.

For more information on other Leap Year events around the world, visit www.amphibianark.org/leap-day-2012/.)

*IUCN/SSC: International Union for the Conservation of Nature/Species Survival Commission

Students from the Canadian International School wished their froglets well as they were released into the pond at Singapore Zoo’s Tropical Crops Plantation last year

Young guests guessing the number of ‘frog eggs’ in the clduring last weekend’s Leap Here! event at Singapore Zoo

MEET THE SECRETIVE AND SHY TODDY CAT AT NIGHT SAFARI

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NIGHT SAFARI OPENS ONE OF ITS LATEST EXHIBITS TO BRING THE PUBLIC CLOSER TO THESE NATIVE CRITTERS

Singapore, 4 November 2011 – If you spot one of these shy and furry creatures right at your doorstep, don’t be alarmed. They are native, nocturnal animals called common palm civets, locally known as toddy cats, which live in our forests and parks. Five of these adorable toddy cats are currently on display at the Night Safari, boosting its collection of endangered native animals and enabling visitors to learn more about this species.

Visitors can now observe the toddy cats and their nocturnal foraging behaviour in a huge enclosure simulating a ‘kampong’ scene. To reflect the species’ history in Singapore, the exhibit features chicken coops, coconuts and baskets, which convey a typical village feel. The ‘kampong house’ is made of real thatched roofs and house plants that are commonly found in villages such as banana trees, serai and tapioca.

The toddy cat – known as musang in Malay – is one of the last wild carnivores which can still be seen around residential areas in Siglap and forests in Bukit Timah, the Central Catchment, Pulau Ubin and Pulau Tekong. They range in parts of South Asia and Southeast Asia. The animal earned its name from its apparent liking for the sap from palm trees that is used to produce the alcoholic drink, ‘toddy’.

The toddy cat enclosure covers a total area of over 126 m2 and is one of the latest exhibits to open at the Night Safari.

“We would like visitors to leave our parks with increased knowledge and awareness of wildlife conservation through our animal exhibits. In this case, we hope they will appreciate some of our native species such as the common palm civets, so as to minimise human-animal conflict in our urban environment. It is important that we preserve the natural wildlife of Singapore for future generations to come,” said Mr. Kumar Pillai, General Manager of Night Safari, which is operated by Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), together with Singapore Zoo, Jurong Bird Park and the upcoming River Safari.

Another unique feature of the exhibit is that it has an educational interpretive where visitors can learn more about the plight of this wild resident of Singapore, whose natural habitat has been encroached by humans through the years. It also showcases items associated with the animal such as packets of kopi luwak, one of the world’s most expensive coffee beans produced from coffee berries that pass through the toddy cat’s digestive tract. Known to be excellent climbers with a preference to stay in trees, these Night Safari residents will also enjoy climbing up and down three finely crafted tree trunks and vines.

WRS is currently working with various governmental organizations such as the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore and National Parks Board to rehabilitate and relocate captured toddy cats. We have rehabilitated and released a total of 57 civets since 2009. More recently, WRS is looking into radio-collaring civets to be released into the wild to study their range, survival and integration of this species in the new habitat.

The Night Safari had collaborated with the National University of Singapore to study the toddy cat population, specifically in the Siglap and Opera Estate areas. The project aimed to educate and encourage residents to live harmoniously with these creatures of the night. Recently, a team from Night Safari also conducted a talk on these native animals to students at Temasek Junior College.

Toddy cats are native animals that are distinguished by their shaggy grey hair, the three rows of black markings on their bodies and the black mask that goes across their eyes and noses.

Visitors at the Night Safari can now observe the toddy cats and their nocturnal foraging behaviour in a huge enclosure simulating a “kampong” scene

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