KEEPERS AND VETS IN RIVER SAFARI HOPEFUL FOR BABY PANDA

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Giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia, solitary by nature, came together for second try to have a baby panda

IMAGE 1 (left): Kai Kai and Jia Jia had been displaying courtship behaviour for weeks. Once the hormonal levels in Jia Jia’s urine samples indicated on 13 April that she was ready to mate, the two pandas were brought together in their dens for natural mating. The session was not successful, a situation not uncommon for young and inexperienced pandas. PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

IMAGE 2 (right): To help Jia Jia conceive, a decision was made to carry out artificial insemination. Assisting the vet team at River Safari was a team led by Prof Ng Soon Chye, an obstetrics and gynaecology specialist internationally renowned for his expertise in human reproductive medicine. PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE, 15 April 2016 Giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia have made their second attempt at parenthood over the last two days and if proved successful, River Safari will become home to a baby panda.

The giant pandas had started showing signs that they were entering mating season at the end of March. For weeks, the two pandas displayed classic courtship behaviour: Kai Kai was scent-marking his exhibit and chirping to get the female’s attention, while Jia Jia was sleeping more and when awake would be restlessly pacing about. These displays were encouraging signs to the keepers and vets that their methods of stimulating breeding cycles and interest had been successful.

Pandas’ mating instincts are brought on by hormonal changes in response to seasonal variations, such as temperature changes and increasing day length from winter to spring. River Safari’s keepers and vets have employed a number of measures since November to trigger the breeding cycles of the pandas. These included varying the daylight hours and temperature in the panda exhibit to simulate the transition from winter to spring in the pandas’ homeland in Sichuan, China.

In addition, keepers introduced each panda to the other’s exhibit and den, as well as placed them side by side for short periods of time so that the pair could smell each other’s scent. Their reaction would indicate their receptiveness to the opposite sex.  Urine samples from Jia Jia were also collected to check the hormonal levels which would also indicate when she is ready to mate.

On 13 April, both pandas were brought together in their dens for natural mating. The mixing session was not successful, a situation not uncommon for young and inexperienced pandas. A decision was made to carry out artificial insemination to help Jia Jia conceive. Assisting the vet team at River Safari was a team led by Prof Ng Soon Chye, an obstetrics and gynaecology specialist internationally renowned for his expertise in the reproductive medicine.

Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Chief Life Sciences Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said, “River Safari is part of a global breeding and research programme for the endangered giant panda. Our team of keepers and vets are committed to provide the best animal husbandry and healthcare possible to achieve this task; and our standard of care was recently affirmed by visiting panda fertility experts from China’s Ya-An Bifengxia Panda Base. The past few days have involved very intensive observation and monitoring of the pairs which culminated in the artificial insemination of Jia Jia. Our female panda is timid by nature and our focus now is on her after care.”

From now till about September, vets and keepers will have to wait to conclude if Jia Jia is pregnant through ultrasound scans. Giant pandas have delayed implantation during pregnancy and as such, vets cannot confirm pregnancy until the later part of the panda’s gestation period.

Image 3 - Lovelorn pandas_WRS

IMAGE 3 (left): Right before Kai Kai and Jia Jia were brought together to mate, they approached each other. Separated by the mesh between their dens, the lovelorn bears signaled their interest by sniffing and chirping at each other.

PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

 

Image 4 - Kai Kai and Jia Jia play fighting_WRS IMAGE 4 (left): After being brought together in their dens, Kai Kai and Jia Jia began play fighting, a natural behaviour that pandas display from young. Usually seen lazing about, the energetic rough housing was a stark contrast to their typical image. 

PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

ABANDONED CRITICALLY ENDANGERED BABY PANGOLIN SUCCESSFULLY HAND-RAISED AT NIGHT SAFARI

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Pangolin baby had 50 per cent chance of survival under human care;
Guests can find out more about the elusive creature at park’s upcoming keeper interaction programme

IMAGE 1 (left): Found weak, hungry, and wandering alone at Upper Thomson Road on 22 February this year, the abandoned critically endangered Sunda pangolin was taken to Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s rescued wildlife centre where vets made a desperate attempt to hand-raise him. To encourage his natural behaviour, the baby pangolin is taken for walks every morning and evening. Foraging exercises the critically endangered animal’s keen sense of smell and strong claws.

IMAGE 2 (right): The abandoned baby pangolin was bottle-fed kitten milk replacer (KMR), a substitute for his mother’s milk, before being introduced to ants’ eggs, which he now relishes. Eventually, the pangolin will progress to the captive diet, a protein-rich formula which includes minced beef, ants’ eggs, mealworms and insectivore supplements.

PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE, 7 April 2016 — Hungrily lapping up ants’ eggs, vigorously burrowing around his play tub and stubbornly clinging on to his caretaker’s arm despite being coaxed off—all heartening signs that the abandoned critically endangered baby Sunda pangolin was flourishing under the doting care of his human foster parents. This was a cause for celebration, for the robust creature today is a far cry from the wisp he had been weeks before.

Found weak, hungry, and wandering alone at Upper Thomson Road on 22 February, the four-month old pangolin was taken to Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s (WRS) rescued wildlife centre where vets made a desperate attempt to hand-raise him—a mammoth task as the delicate species generally does not thrive under human care.

The first and biggest challenge was his diet. While healthy, the baby rejected kitten milk replacer (KMR) as he was used to his mother’s milk. In addition, the scaly anteater was at a crucial point in his life of weaning off milk onto solid food, a diet of ants and termites. This change in diet caused intestinal issues and vets had to provide 24 hour care to the precious, critically endangered baby.

After a precarious one and a half week period, the pangolin proved resilient. He started drinking KMR four times a day and now relishes ants’ eggs. His milk intake has been reduced to twice daily and he is being eased into a specialised diet which the adult pangolins at Night Safari take.

Apart from diet, to encourage his natural behaviour, the baby pangolin is taken for walks every morning and evening on forested grounds. Foraging exercises the critically endangered animal’s keen sense of smell and strong claws.

Having grown from 776g to 1.1kg, the young pangolin’s makeshift quarters was upgraded to accommodate his growth. He now resides in the veterinary ward with a roomy tub for play and rest, complete with a large branch to climb on. When fully grown, a male Sunda pangolin can weigh up to 7.5kg.

Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Chief Life Sciences Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore said, “Successfully raising a Sunda pangolin from such a young age is a real achievement. This critically endangered species has notoriously low survival rates under human care, and this experience has given us invaluable knowledge on how to care for the species.”

Once the baby pangolin is independent and graduates to the captive diet, he will join the seven Sunda pangolins at Night Safari’s Fishing Cat Trail, two of which were born under human care. Night Safari opened the world’s first Sunda pangolin exhibit in 2009.

The Sunda pangolin is listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN* Red List of Threatened Species. Globally, all eight species of pangolins are threatened with extinction as a result of unsustainable illegal trade to supply human consumption and traditional medicine in East Asia. In Singapore, the Sunda pangolin is threatened with habitat loss and motor vehicle accidents. WRS is funding ecological and genetic studies of this species whose natural history is not well understood.

As part of WRS’ efforts to highlight the plight of this dwindling species, Night Safari will begin its new keeper interaction cum feeding programme in mid-May. During the session, a keeper will educate visitors on the pangolin’s history and situation in the wild while pangolin feeding takes place in the exhibit. Due to their secretive nature, few know about the world’s only scaly mammal, so the session will provide rare insights of this creature’s natural behaviour, such as climbing trees and foraging for food.

*IUCN stands for International Union for Conservation of NatureImage 3_Baby pangolin climbs tree_WRS

 IMAGE 3 (left): Learning to climb trees exercises the tree-dwelling Sunda pangolin’s strong claws and semi-prehensile tail (tails which are capable of grasping), which it uses to grip bark and scale trees. Having grown bigger and stronger, he has taken to wrapping his tail around his caregiver’s arm, unwilling to let go.

PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

 

 

 

 

Image 4_Snoozing baby pangolin_WRS

 

 

 

IMAGE 4 (left): The baby pangolin curls up as he snoozes soundly. He only learnt to curl fully on 3 March 2016, as pictured. Curling up into a tight ball is the pangolin’s best defense against predators but ironically its worst defense against human beings, as it allows poachers to easily pick it up and toss it into a bag.
PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Image 5_Baby pangolin eats ants eggs_WRS

IMAGE 5 (left): The pangolin’s caregivers add his favourite ants’ eggs to the captive diet to encourage him to take it, but the sneaky baby would pick out just the ants’ eggs and leave the rest untouched.
PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

 

WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE OFFERS FOUR PARKS FOR THE PRICE OF TWO* FROM APRIL ONWARDS

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Change in pricing structure sees better value on multi-park visits with significant reductions in prices

WRS_Storybook Visual (1)

Both local and foreign guests will be able to enjoy more affordable wildlife adventures at the four award-winning Wildlife Reserves Singapore parks—Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari, River Safari, Singapore Zoo—when the revised multi-park ParkHopper prices kick in this April. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE, 28 March 2016 – To encourage guests to visit more than one of its award-winning parks at a time, Wildlife Reserves Singapore will revise the price structure for its multi-park ParkHopper passes from 1 April 2016.

ParkHopper bundled admission tickets allow guests to visit two or four of its wildlife parks (Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari, River Safari, and Singapore Zoo) within seven days from the first park visit. Visitors opting for a four-park excursion will only need to pay $69, which translates to massive savings of $68 as opposed to purchasing single entry park admission tickets*. Those who prefer a two-park visit will save up to $19. Online purchases will receive a further 10 per cent discount on either bundled admission package.

* Four-park rate based on average price of single entry park admission tickets

Mr Mike Barclay, Chief Executive Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said, “Our four parks each have a distinctive character, and each offers a unique wildlife adventure. We hope that many of our guests will take advantage of our new ParkHopper pricing to enjoy interactions with our living collection in all four of our parks.”

In addition to revised ParkHopper rates, single entry tickets to the four parks will be adjusted. Singaporeans and Permanent Residents will enjoy lower priced tickets through online and onsite purchases throughout the year. There will be a 25 per cent discount for online purchases and a 15 per cent discount for onsite purchases across all four parks.

Senior citizen concessions of up to 60 per cent remain, with the addition of complimentary tram rides at Jurong Bird Park and Singapore Zoo, making it easier and more enjoyable for our golden generation to explore the parks.

Tram and boat ride tickets for both adults and children remain unchanged. Students on school excursions will continue to enjoy heavily subsidised rates of up to 80 per cent. WRS also provides complimentary admission for beneficiaries under WRS’ list of voluntary welfare organisations.

WRS charges are comparable to other leisure attractions in Singapore. Individuals and families keen to make multiple visits throughout the year can sign up for reasonably-priced membership packages.

RIVER SAFARI’S GIANT PANDAS LOOKING LOVELORN, SIGNAL START OF MATING SEASON

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Giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia ready for second attempt at making a baby panda;
Guests will not be able to see giant pandas for three days during the mating season

A lovelorn Kai Kai_WRS

With the approach of the giant panda mating season, visitors to River Safari’s Giant Panda Forest can expect to see lovelorn Kai Kai (seen above) and his mate Jia Jia displaying some courtship behaviour. Photo Credit: Wildlife Reserves Singapore

SINGAPORE, 23 March 2016  With the approach of the annual panda mating season, River Safari’s giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia are gearing up for their second shot at making a baby panda and guests at the park may observe some intriguing courtship behaviour from the pair.

Giant panda mating season is typically from February to May. As early as January, Kai Kai and Jia Jia have shown early signs that the breeding season was going to start soon.

In the coming weeks, visitors can expect to see male panda Kai Kai bleating in his exhibit and scent-marking more frequently. He may also display the flehmen response, a behaviour whereby an animal curls back its upper lip to sniff for pheromones to assess the breeding readiness of its mate. When mating season arrives, female panda Jia Jia will display restless behaviour and bleating to attract the attention of her mate.

Nine-year-old Kai Kai and eight-year-old Jia Jia entered mating season for the first time last April but both natural mating and artificial insemination had been unsuccessful. The experience, however, has armed River Safari’s team of veterinarians and keepers with a better understanding of the endangered bears’ notoriously complex reproduction process. For the coming mating season, vets and keepers have fine-tuned and employed techniques proven to be successful before in other zoos.

To enhance his performance ahead of the breeding season, Kai Kai has been dutifully doing his “sexercise” in his den for months. Panda keepers get Kai Kai to stand up on his hind legs for a few seconds at a time to strengthen his hind quarters. The exercise also serves to improve his stamina which would help to improve success rates during mating.

As with the year before, keepers have continued varying daylight hours and temperature at River Safari’s Giant Panda Forest. This simulates the seasonal transition from winter to spring in their homeland in Sichuan, China, triggering the breeding cycle of the pair—the first of their kind to live so close to the equator.

Kai Kai and Jia Jia also swapped exhibits and dens in January and February. Smelling the scent of another gender stimulates their mating instincts, encouraging hormonal changes.

At present, vets and keepers are carefully observing the behaviour of the two pandas as well as monitoring Jia Jia’s hormonal levels. Once the black and white duo are deemed ready, the pandas will be taken out of their respective exhibits for three days to allow natural mating in the dens. During this mating season of three days, guests to River Safari will not be able to see Kai Kai and Jia Jia in the Giant Panda Forest.

Vets have also collected Kai Kai’s semen for artificial insemination to increase the chances of breeding the pandas should natural mating be unsuccessful.

Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Chief Life Sciences Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said, “Kai Kai and Jia Jia are the first giant pandas to live so close to the equator and make an intriguing case study for researchers worldwide. We have learnt much about the care of this endangered species and their breeding behaviour in the last few years, and the team is ready to apply this knowledge and hope for a Singapore baby panda this year.”

 

SINGAPORE ZOO RECEIVES BOOST TO ALDABRA GIANT TORTOISE CONSERVATION BREEDING PLAN

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Tortoises a precious gift from Mauritius to Singapore to mark
new air corridor between the two countries

Images 1 and 2: Casela (left) and Coco (right), two Aldabra giant tortoises, are a valuable addition to the Singapore Zoo’s living collection, and will boost the park’s breeding programme to increase the species’ captive numbers. The pair was presented as a gift from Mauritius to Singapore, to mark the new air corridor that opened between the two republic states late last year.
PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Singapore, 17 March 2016Singapore Zoo is looking forward to making headway on its conservation breeding programme for Aldabra giant tortoises with the addition of two valuable specimens on 12 March 2016. The female tortoises were a gift from Mauritius to Singapore to mark the new air corridor that opened between the two republic states late last year.

Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam received a painting of the Aldabra giant tortoises from Mauritius Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism and External Communications Charles Gaëtan Xavier-Luc Duval to mark the occasion.

Originating from Casela World of Adventures in Mauritius, the tortoises, named Casela and Coco, are currently housed in Singapore Zoo’s quarantine facility where they will remain for a month. They will then be moved to the Aldabra giant tortoise exhibit permanently to join their fellow species, and prepare for future breeding opportunities.

Casela was named after Casela World of Adventures, while Coco draws her name from coconuts, a prominent feature of Mauritian beaches.

Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Chief Life Sciences Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said: “Aldabra giant tortoises are among the longest-lived animals on the planet, individuals can live to well over 100 years but sadly the species is threatened with extinction in the wild. We warmly welcome the addition of Casela and Coco to our existing herd of six giant tortoises as they will be a great boost to our breeding programme for this charismatic gentle giants.”

Aldabra giant tortoises are listed as vulnerable under the IUCN* Red List of Threatened Species. These giants are characterised by a thick dome-shaped carapace and feed on vegetables. One of the largest giant tortoise species in the world, a fully-grown specimen can weigh up to 250kg. The two newly-arrived ladies weigh approximately 110kg each.

The Aldabra giant tortoise, which originates from the island of Seychelles, is the only remnant of some 18 species of tortoises that once thrived in the Indian Ocean region. They were introduced to Mauritius after a recommendation from eminent naturalist Charles Darwin in the late 19th century.

* IUCN stands for International Union for Conservation of Nature

Images 1 and 2: Casela (left) and Coco (right), two Aldabra giant tortoises, are a valuable addition to the Singapore Zoo’s living collection, and will boost the park’s breeding programme to increase the species’ captive numbers. The pair was presented as a gift from Mauritius to Singapore, to mark the new air corridor that opened between the two republic states late last year.
PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE URGES PUBLIC TO TAKE A STAND AGAINST ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE

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Real-life inspired images and anecdotes of animals expose bleak nature of illegal wildlife trade;
Wildlife Reserves Singapore calls for public to take action

YouBuyTheyDie - Cockatoo

SINGAPORE, 10 March 2016 – Cockatoos stuffed in bottles to be smuggled as pets, and pangolin babies taken from their mothers’ wombs to meet the insatiable demand for exotic medicine and food delicacies—these are disturbing but true accounts of animals being transported for the illegal wildlife trade. By highlighting the fate of these animals in the second instalment of the You Buy, They Die campaign, Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) hopes to rally the public to take a stand against the illegal wildlife trade.

From 10 March to 6 April 2016, commuters taking buses and trains will come across harsh but realistic images of animals being transported for the illegal wildlife trade: cockatoos stuffed in plastic bottles where two out of five do not survive, and pangolins crushed against limbs and choking under mangled bodies. These visuals can be seen on train windows and bus stops around the island, as well as educational interpretive at Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari, River Safari and Singapore Zoo.

Dr Sonja Luz, Director, Conservation and Research, WRS, said: “The illegal wildlife trade is a multi-billion dollar business with devastating consequences for wild animal populations and ecosystems. Many species suffer greatly in the process. With this campaign, we hope to empower the public to take action and help us change their fate. Our ultimate goal is to stop the demand and that will only happen if everyone understands the problem, spreads the word and takes action by making informed decisions when offered wildlife or wildlife products.”

YouBuyTheyDie - Pangolin

To encourage engagement, the advertisements contain QR codes for commuters to scan with their mobile phones, immerse in a 360˚ experience that showcases the brutal smuggling process, and put an end to the cycle of death by declaring their pledges at ChangeTheirFate.sg. Those who pledge can immediately see the brighter future they have made for wildlife, with visuals of animals seen in their natural habitats and maintaining balance in the ecosystem.

Rising affluence, increasing purchasing power and globalisation all spell trouble for wildlife as the growing demand for exotic meat, body parts, traditional medicine, pets and luxury items, directly causes drastic declines in wildlife numbers.

Possible Singapore is the creative agency behind the campaign. The latest initiative is WRS’ second instalment of the You Buy, They Die anti-wildlife crime campaign launched in 2015 to educate the public on how their buying decisions can support the conservation of endangered wildlife. Members of the public who have information on illegal wildlife activities are advised to make a report immediately to the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA). In addition, they can also download the free Wildlife Witness App, created in partnership with the Taronga Conservation Society Australia and wildlife monitoring network TRAFFIC.

OVER 8,500-STRONG CROWD GO APE OVER NEW AH MENG AT SAFARI ZOO RUN 2016

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Ah Meng’s legacy lives on in granddaughter and annual run at Night Safari and Singapore Zoo; Safari Zoo Run 2016 marks public debut of newly crowned Ah Meng

Singapore, 27 February 2016 — Over 8,500 participants will pay homage to Singapore Zoo’s newly crowned animal ambassador Ah Meng over the weekend of 27 and 28 February 2016 as they race through the lush forested trails of Mandai in the eighth instalment of Safari Zoo Run, a race conceptualised to celebrate the life of the first Ah Meng.

Guest of Honour, Mr S Dhanabalan, Chairman of Mandai Safari Park Holdings, flagged off the first race before meeting with Ah Meng, who was officially crowned only one day earlier in a private event. Lucky runners also got a closer glimpse of the new queen of the jungle as she descended from her treetop throne.

Mr Mike Barclay, CEO of Wildlife Reserves Singapore, joined the action and ran alongside runners in the 10km competitive category. Families could enjoy the more manageable 5.5km run. Races on Day 2 include the 5.5km competitive and family runs, and 2.5km kids and family dashes. Participants over both days also get to enjoy appearances by animal mascots, educational show and tell sessions and animal photography opportunities after their races.

Safari Zoo Run was conceived eight years ago and celebrates the life of Ah Meng, Singapore Zoo’s iconic Sumatran orangutan, who died of old age in February 2008. Her popularity was so great that to many Singaporeans, the name Ah Meng is synonymous with orangutans. Singapore Zoo introduced a new Ah Meng, eight years after the first passed on, in hopes that her legacy will live on and her descendants can continue to be animal ambassadors to inspire people to care for orangutans and other threatened species.

A part of the proceeds from Safari Zoo Run 2016 will go towards aiding the conservation efforts of Singapore Zoo and Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

Image 1 - Safari Zoo Run 2016_WRSImage 1: Guest-of-Honour Mr S Dhanabalan, Chairman of Mandai Safari Park Holdings (extreme left), flags off Safari Zoo Run’s first run of the day – the 10km competitive race. He is accompanied by Ms Isabel Cheng, Chief Marketing Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore (third from left) and the Ah Meng mascot.

PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Image 2 - Safari Zoo Run 2016_WRSImage 2: Mr S Dhanabalan, Chairman of Mandai Safari Park Holdings (extreme right), meets Singapore Zoo’s freshly minted royalty, Ah Meng (second orangutan from left), who will carry on the legacy of her grandmother and be an ambassador for the park and her species. Looking on are Alagappasamy Chellaiyah, primate specialist, Singapore Zoo (second from right), and Kumaran Sesshe, head keeper, great apes, Singapore Zoo (third from right).

PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Image 3 - Safari Zoo Run 2016_WRSImage 3: Kumaran Sesshe, head keeper, great apes, Singapore Zoo, points out the new Ah Meng to excited participants who were taking a breather from their 10km race in this year’s instalment of the wildly popular Safari Zoo Run.

PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

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