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

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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