WORLD’S RAREST BLUE MACAWS IN SINGAPORE

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Native to Brazil, blue macaws to be conservation ambassadors for their kind; Jurong Bird Park a member of group working to save the critically endangered Spix’s Macaw from extinction.

Image (LEFT): The endangered Lear’s Macaw—on a 10-year loan to Jurong Bird Park—is distinguishable by its yellow teardrop-shaped marking near its beak. Image (RIGHT): The critically endangered Spix’s Macaw—is likely extinct in the wild with just over 150 individuals left under human care worldwide in dedicated facilities. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE, 3 November 2017 — Singapore is now home to two of the world’s rarest macaw species—the Spix’s Macaw and the Lear’s Macaw.

With the arrival of these conservation ambassadors, Jurong Bird Park will be the only zoological park in the world where visitors will be able to appreciate all three existing species of the blue macaw family—including the park’s existing Hyacinth Macaw collection—and learn about the efforts being made to save them from extinction. The Glaucous Macaw—the last member of the blue macaw family—has not been sighted since the 1960s and is believed to be extinct.

The critically endangered Spix’s Macaw, also known as the Little Blue Macaw, is believed to be extinct in the wild, with the last confirmed sighting in 2005, and there are just over 150 individuals left under human care worldwide. It is the same blue macaw which inspired the Rio movie series, and whose breeding programme is currently managed by Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation, in Qatar, the Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots, in Germany and Fazenda Cachoeira, in Brazil. The Lear’s Macaw is listed as endangered, and has about 1,300 individuals left in the wild. The Hyacinth Macaw is currently in Jurong Bird Park’s collection, and is listed as vulnerable.

Jurong Bird Park received one Spix’s Macaw and two Lear’s Macaws each from Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation and the Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots. These birds will be ambassadors for their species, and for the conservation programme that strives to save them from extinction.

Jurong Bird Park is also a member of the Spix’s Macaw Working Group for the recovery and conservation of this species in the wild, along with six other members: Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation, a branch of the Ministry of the Environment in Brazil; the Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation—Lubara Breeding Centre; the Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots; Parrots International and Fazenda Cachoeira.

In 2016, a Memorandum of Understanding was inked between members of the Working Group, with Jurong Bird Park committing to provide support in establishing a breeding and release facility in Brazil—the species’ native homeland—with the ultimate aim of reintroducing the species into the wild. The reintroduction is targeted for 2021 and all the institutions are making a great effort to make this dream possible.

Since then, Jurong Bird Park has been playing an active role in the implementation of the conservation strategy for these species together with the partners, and in preparation for the arrival of the blue macaws, had sent animal care staff to the Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots to learn about care and husbandry for these very important feathered friends.

The Spix’s and Lear’s Macaws are on a 10-year loan agreement, with their debut in Jurong Bird Park marking the golden jubilee of diplomatic relations between Brazil and Singapore.

Visitors can look forward to visiting the blue macaws at Jurong Bird Park’s Parrot Paradise exhibit from 22 November onwards. At the exhibit, visitors will also be able learn more about the Spix’s Macaw Conservation Action Plan and Reintroduction Programme, spearheaded and led by the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation.

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SINGAPORE ZOO WELCOMES 21st WHITE RHINO CALF

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Robust baby up and walking within an hour of birth; First male calf in five years

Image 1 (left): Donsa, Singapore Zoo’s 32-year-old female white rhino proudly shows off her calf. This is Donsa’s 11th baby and one of seven white rhinos at the wildlife park. Altogether, 21 white rhinos have been born in the zoo, some of which have been sent to zoos in Australia, Indonesia, Korea and Thailand as part of a global animal exchange programme.

Image 2 (right): The yet-to-be-named calf stays close to mom Donsa at Singapore Zoo’s back of house rhino facility. Visitors to the park will be able to see him in a few months, when he is ready to join the rest of the herd. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Singapore, 28 September 2017Singapore Zoo’s prolific 32-year-old white rhino Donsa quietly delivered her eleventh calf in the wee hours of 6 September, and by the time her keepers arrived for work within an hour of the birth, the healthy male calf was already taking his first wobbly steps.

With 20 rhino births under their belts, keepers knew Donsa was due to deliver, and had prepped the birthing den two days before, in anticipation of the new arrival.
The yet-to-be-named calf currently spends time bonding with mom in the back of house facility. An energetic lad, the young one enjoys being scratched with an extended brush.

Keepers use this opportunity to get him comfortable to their presence. These sessions also pave the way for future medical training: conditioning that allows animals to be examined and given simple treatment without being stressed.

Singapore Zoo is home to seven of these majestic creatures, and the latest addition is the first male born in five years after a string of females. Of the 21 babies born here, some have been sent to Australia, Indonesia, Korea and Thailand as part of the Zoo’s ex-situ conservation efforts through its worldwide exchange programme.

Although Donsa and baby are not in the public eye yet, you can meet Hoepel the proud father, and the other white rhinos, during their daily 1.15pm feeding session—the first ever in Asia and one of Singapore Zoo’s signature programmes—and experience an up close and personal encounter with these giants.

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 poached for their horns, which some believe as having medicinal properties. In fact, the horns are made of solid keratin, the same material in hair and fingernails, and there has been no scientific evidence to suggest that they are a cure for anything.

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Image 3 (left): Although barely three weeks old, Singapore Zoo’s white rhino calf already knows what he loves—being scratched! Keepers indulge him in this activity as part of early conditioning, which allows him to be comfortable around keepers and less resistant to touch during future medical procedures. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

*International Union for the Conservation of Nature

ASIAN SONGBIRD TRADE CRISIS SPECIALIST GROUP FORMED TO TACKLE CONSERVATION THREATS

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Specialist group is first of its kind, and is part of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission

Image (left): Bali Mynahs are listed as critically endangered due to the illegal cage bird trade. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE
Image (right): Songbirds on sale at a market in Jakarta, Indonesia. PHOTO CREDITS: TRAFFIC

Singapore, 25 September 2017 – Threatened songbirds in the region will now have the voice of the first Asian Songbird Trade Specialist Group to join the chorus against the illegal and unsustainable cage bird trade.

Formally recognised by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission (IUCN SSC) in May 2017, the Asian Songbird Trade Specialist Group (ASTSG) is dedicated solely to preventing the imminent extinction of songbirds threatened by unsustainable trapping and the trade. This is the first multidisciplinary specialist group, and prior to its formation, there was no official conservation body under the IUCN SSC focusing on songbirds and the threats arising from its illegal trade.

Together with other global experts, Wildlife Reserves Singapore played a key role in driving the formation of the ASTSG – a natural progression from the Songbird Crisis Summits in 2015 and 2017— also hosted by Wildlife Reserves Singapore—and will implement the conservation strategy and action plans discussed at these important meetings. This is also the first time an institution in Singapore is hosting a specialist group under the IUCN SSC.

Southeast Asia is home to more than 850 bird species. Keeping songbirds is seen as a social status symbol, with demand also arising from cultural practices—such as religious releases and songbird competitions. As a result, the region sees huge demand for domestic and international bird trade, involving countless individuals of hundreds of species. Many of these are now facing catastrophic declines.

David Jeggo, Chair of the ASTSG said: “The songbird trade conservation issue is highly complex, with many different perspectives and challenges. A coordinated effort under this Specialist Group would create synergies by bringing together a range of subject matter experts to find solutions to reverse the growing threat to songbird species and improve the conservation status of all the species involved.”

Currently, conservation efforts are broadly centred around in situ research into wild populations; genetic research; trade monitoring and legal protection; ex situ conservation breeding programmes; and education and community engagement. These five themes form sub-groups are led by vice-chairs in the ASTSG.

Vice-chair (Trade and Legislation) – Christopher Shepherd, Wildlife Trade Expert, Canada
Vice-chair (Field Research) – Stuart Marsden (Manchester Metropolitan University, U.K.)
Vice-chair (Genetics) – Frank Rheindt (National University of Singapore, Singapore)
Vice-chairs (Ex-situ Breeding and Reintroductions) – Luis Neves (Wildlife Reserves Singapore, Singapore) & Andrew Owen (Chester Zoo, U.K.)
Vice-chair (Education and Community Engagement) – Ria Saryanthi (Burung Indonesia, Indonesia)

Wildlife Reserves Singapore also contributes in other capacities towards songbird conservation, including education and community outreach activities, as well as through the conservation breeding of various threatened species of songbirds at Jurong Bird Park. Wildlife Reserves Singapore also supports two songbird conservation projects in Bali and Java, Indonesia, where the critically endangered songbirds are bred and reintroduced into the wild.

This press release coincides with the timely launch of European Association of Zoos and Aquaria’s two-year ‘Silent Forest’ campaign, aimed to support and raise awareness of conservation efforts of Southeast Asian songbirds threatened by trade, and by extension the ASTSG’s objectives.

WORLD’S RAREST MACAWS TO DEBUT AT JURONG BIRD PARK

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Jurong Bird Park will be the only public zoological institution where visitors can view all three remaining blue macaw species – Spix’s, Lear’s, and Hyacinth macaws.

Image (LEFT): Believed to be extinct in the wild, the critically endangered Spix’s macaw is distinguished within the blue macaw family by its size (it is the smallest) and elegant grey-blue plumage. (RIGHT): The endangered Lear’s macaw sports a bright yellow eye ring with a rich green-tinged cobalt blue plumage.
PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE, 24 August 2017 — Come end-November, local and international visitors will be able to get a glimpse of two of the world’s rarest macaws—the Spix’s macaw and the Lear’s macaw—in Jurong Bird Park, Asia’s largest bird paradise.

With the addition of these two species to the Hyacinth macaws that already reside in the park, Jurong Bird Park will be the only public zoological institution in the world where guests can view the complete blue macaw family. The Glaucous macaw—the last member of the blue macaw family—has not been sighted since the 1960s and is believed to be extinct.

The Ambassador of the Federative Republic of Brazil, His Excellency Flávio Soares Damico, said: “In 2017, we celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations between Brazil and Singapore and we are very proud of the strong bilateral ties uniting us. Bringing both countries even closer together, we are happy to be part of the effort to introduce two birds native to Brazil to Jurong Bird Park—the Spix’s and Lear’s macaws. We look forward to the continuation of this initiative that will allow for the re-introduction of the two species in their natural habitat. This will be an important mark of this golden jubilee. Singapore has every reason to be proud of Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s commitment towards the protection and conservation of biodiversity. The macaws are in very good and able hands. I am sure that the public will enjoy this very welcome addition to the park.”

The critically endangered Spix’s macaw, also known as the little blue macaw, is believed to be extinct in the wild and there are just over 100 individuals left under human care worldwide. It is the same little blue macaw which inspired the Rio movie series.

Accompanying the Spix’s macaws will be the endangered Lear’s macaws, another member of the blue macaw family. Jurong Bird Park will welcome two Spix’s macaws and four Lear’s macaws.

In July 2016, Jurong Bird Park signed a Memorandum of Agreement together with partners—the Ministry of the Environment of Brazil, the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation, the Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation, the Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots, Parrots International and Fazenda Cachoeira—committing to provide funding and direct support to help establish a viable population of Spix’s macaws under human care, and ultimately to reintroduce this species into the wild.

Mr Mike Barclay, Group CEO, Mandai Park Holdings, said: “The Spix’s and Lear’s macaws are excellent emblems of our commitment to do our part to protect and conserve global biodiversity. We are honoured to be a partner in this effort to bring the Spix’s macaw species back from the brink of extinction, with the eventual hope to reintroducing them to the wild. We are also deeply humbled by the confidence placed in us to care for these precious birds.”

The Spix’s macaw is listed as critically endangered—believed to be extinct in the wild—with the Lear’s macaw classified as endangered, due to the illegal bird trade and habitat loss. Visitors can look forward to visiting the blue macaw exhibit from end November onwards.

JAZZY CELEBRATION AS MANATEE CANOLA TURNS THREE

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River Safari teams up with local jazz saxophonist Daniel Chia for a musical morning; Animal icon Canola is now 10 times heavier and one of the most affectionate manatees in Amazon Flooded Forest.

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Image 1: Born on 6 August 2014 to the largest manatee in the Amazon Flooded Forest exhibit, River Safari’s animal icon Canola celebrated her third birthday in style, with ‘live’ music and a two-metre tall cabbage cake, topped off with a ‘C’ for Canola. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Singapore, 26 July 2017 – The soulful sounds of jazz filled the Amazon Flooded Forest exhibit at River Safari early this morning, as invited guests were whisked away into a surreal experience, serenaded by rising local jazz saxophonist, Daniel Chia.

Amidst the soulful tunes of Cali Style and Life’s A Beach, over 60 invited guests caught a glimpse of the beautiful bond between River Safari’s herd of manatees and their human carers, as the manatees and aquarists dived in for a morning swim together.

Born in Singapore, River Safari’s animal icon Canola enjoyed her birthday celebration kampung style, involving her extended family, made up of her human carers, manatee tank mates and invited friends. As a birthday treat, aquarists presented a two-metre tall cabbage cake to Canola, which was met with much curiosity and delight by the entire manatee herd.

Canola was born in River Safari on 6 August 2014 around noon, and is the offspring of Eva, the largest manatee within the Amazon Flooded Forest exhibit. For unknown abandoned at birth and aquarists had to dive in to provide round-the-clock care for her, who required bottle-feeding every two to three hours during the first three months.

Despite a rough start to life, Canola has blossomed into a playful and affectionate manatee, often approaching aquarists to say hello when they go about their daily duties, or to ask for belly rubs. She has also developed a patient disposition, usually waiting for her turn to be fed high fibre biscuits – her favourite treat.

Canola weighed over 30kg at birth and today, she is 10 times heavier weighing in at around 300kg. Her best tank mates are Joella and Abel, and the trio can be often spotted having a friendly jostle for the aquarists’ affection.

Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Chief Life Sciences Officer and Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore said, “We are happy that River Safari’s animal icon Canola has overcome her early challenges in life, and is growing up healthy and happy with the manatee herd. As we celebrate her third birthday, our hope is that Canola will continue to thrive and inspire the community at large to act responsibly to keep rivers liveable for people and wildlife.”

Manatees are listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN* Red List of Threatened Species. There are currently five males and eight females in River Safari’s manatee herd.
*International Union for Conservation of Nature

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SINGAPORE ZOO CELEBRATES 44 WILD YEARS WITH A DURIAN FEAST FOR AH MENG AND FRIENDS

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Image 1: Singapore Zoo celebrated her 44th birthday with a durian fiesta for Ah Meng and friends. Orangutans (from left) Ah Meng, Chomel and Anita enthusiastically tear open their presents to get at the durian inside. As Singapore Zoo’s flagship species, the orangutans represented the park’s living collection in receiving the special gifts. PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE, 27 June 2017Singapore Zoo celebrated 44 years of wild encounters today with a feast fit for kings—the king of fruits that is. Both orangutans and humans alike were specially treated to a scrumptious feast of the pungent fruit, durian.

Singapore Zoo was officially opened on 27 June 1973, in Singapore’s early years of nation building, and is among the world pioneers of “open concept” zoos. Over four decades, Singapore Zoo is well-loved as the place where Singapore families spent countless leisurely days together to discover the wonders of wildlife and nature. Beyond our shores, Singapore Zoo earned a place among the best zoos in the world, and has attained a strong reputation for its conservation initiatives and breeding programmes.

As Singapore Zoo’s flagship species and animal icon, Ah Meng and her orangutan friends represented the Zoo’s living collection in the 44th anniversary celebrations.
Joining invited guests from their treetop homes, orangutans Ah Meng, Chomel, Putra, Anita and her new baby, received gifts of their favourite durians. The apes made quick work of the hard thorny shells and husked the durians with their bare hands and teeth, a task that would stump many humans.

After the apes got first dibs, the humans were quick to follow as selected Friends of Singapore Zoo and Friends of Wildlife members were invited to join in on the feast of durians and other tropical fruit. Invited guests also got up close and personal photo opportunities with the charismatic apes. For fans at home or overseas, the celebration was streamed via Facebook Live on Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s page for online fans to join in on the festivities.

Image 2_SZ44_WRSImage 2: Singapore Zoo’s animal icon Ah Meng charmed invited guests with her adorable antics as she chowed her favourite food, durian. Ah Meng was crowned Singapore Zoo’s animal icon on February 2016 and turned six in March.
PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

 

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Image 3: Twenty-year-old orangutan Chomel cannot get enough of durian as she licks her fingers clean. Invited guests watched in awe as the orangutans opened durians with their bare hands and teeth.
PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

 

Singapore Downton Abbey

 

Image 4: Invited guests got the chance for up close and personal photo opportunities with not just the orangutans, but also their dedicated team of keepers.
PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

 

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Image 5: The orangutans weren’t the only ones who got to enjoy fruits. Invited guests also feasted on durian and other tropical fruit in the presence of the charismatic apes.
PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

RIVER SAFARI GEARS UP FOR POSSIBLE PANDA PREGNANCY

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While it is too early to tell, Jia Jia’s keepers leave nothing to chance; Daily cub retrieval and urine collection conditioning conducted in preparation for a possible pregnancy

Singapore, 23 June 2017 – Jia Jia’s keepers have been hard at work since this year’s mating season ended for River Safari’s pair of giant pandas.

Kai Kai and Jia Jia were put together for natural mating on 30 March, following which artificial insemination was carried out to maximise the chances of breeding under human care. Professor Ng Soon Chye, an obstetrics and gynaecology specialist internationally renowned for his expertise in reproductive medicine, assisted River Safari’s veterinary team during the insemination process.

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Since then, the team of keepers at River Safari’s Giant Panda Forest have been conducting daily cub retrieval and urine collection conditioning sessions for Jia Jia in preparation for the possible arrival of a baby panda. Urine collection conditioning allows keepers to collect fresh and uncontaminated urine samples from Jia Jia to monitor her hormonal levels. A gradual increase in progesterone levels indicates a possible pregnancy or pseudo pregnancy. Getting Jia Jia used to handing her cub to the keepers allow her carers to conduct health checks, and to provide supplementary or foster care for the cub if required.

Keepers also started Jia Jia on a daily dosage of folic acid, a pre-natal and pregnancy supplement. River Safari’s team of vets and keepers are holding their breaths on Jia Jia’s pregnancy status. Giant pandas have delayed implantation during pregnancy and as such, vets cannot confirm a pregnancy until the later part of the panda’s gestation period, which in Jia Jia’s case, falls between August to September.

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