Singapore, 23 April 2010Wildlife Reserves Singapore, the parent company of award-winning attractions Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari and Singapore Zoo and the upcoming River Safari, recently welcomed its first pair of tanukis from Asahimaya Zoo, Japan. Tanukis are a subspecies of raccoon dogs native to Japan, and these beautiful canids mark the first animal exchange between WRS and Asahimaya Zoo under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the two parties last year.

To celebrate the partnership and welcome the tanukis, a gala dinner was hosted by Asahiyama Zoo and Wildlife Reserves Singapore last night. Notable guests included HE Mr Makoto Yamanaka, Ambassador of Japan to Singapore and Ms Fanny Lai, Group CEO of Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

Named Pom and Poko, the tanukis will be housed at a permanent exhibit in the upcoming River Safari, Asia’s first river-themed park. Significant to the Japanese culture, these beautiful animals have been a part of the country’s folklore since ancient times. Unfortunately, the tanukis’ silky coat has attracted the unwanted attention of furriers, and they have been commercially farmed since 1928. Even today, raccoon dogs are reportedly bred in cruel conditions and are often skinned alive. The practice has led to global campaigns against the use of raccoon dog fur in fashion.

The raccoon dog gets its name from its resemblance to the unrelated raccoon, and is native to East Asia. They were introduced into parts of Europe for hunting purposes in the early to mid-nineteen hundreds and are now considered an invasive species.

Pom, the male raccoon dog exploring his new home in Singapore
Poko, the female raccoon dog, resting during her quarantine period. They have long torsos and short legs with ears that protrude only slightly outside of their thick fur.
Courtesy of Bjorn Olesen - The raccoon dog is a member of the canid family and is indigenous to east Asia. Japanese raccoon dogs are known to produce sounds higher in pitch, sounding similar to cats.

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