Singapore, 22 June 2010 – The Jurong Bird Park remains vigilant in their approach towards H5N1, by conducting annual avian flu (H5N2) vaccinations for the 600 species of birds in their collection. Flamingo Lake exhibit consists of 2 flamingo species, lesser and greater flamingos. Both native to Africa, the lesser flamingos number about 350 while the greater flamingos number about 250.
About 15 people (including 3 vets) were involved in this vaccination procedure for both flamingo species, which took the whole day.
Vaccinating the birds with the H5N2 vaccine increases the birds’ immune system by creating antibodies. With the increase in the immune system, there might be a decrease in mortality when faced with H5N1. Another line of defense against H5N1 lies in the presence of sentinel chickens in the exhibits. Sentinel chickens have no immunity and will fall sick very easily when faced with a disease. They are the first alert in the event of any plausible infection. The blood and faeces of these sentinel chickens are tested monthly for avian influenza.
The Bird Park also organizes annual bird flu drills, which simulate an actual outbreak as preparedness is key.
WOUND-HEALING THERAPY NORMALLY USED ON HUMANS HEALS MOTHER KOMODO
Singapore, 17 June 2010 – The Singapore Zoo, one of the four wildlife parks managed by Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), including the first river-themed attraction River Safari, has made veterinary history by undertaking Vacuum Assisted Closure® Therapy on a reptile in captivity. Yoko, one of the Zoo’s three komodo dragons, recently became the first reptile to receive a breakthrough treatment commonly used to promote wound healing in humans.
Yoko, the proud mother of the Zoo’s first successfully hatched Komodo dragon bred in Asia, outside of native Indonesia, had sustained a 16cm injury to her back while incubating a second batch of eggs last November. While laying her eggs in an underground burrow, Yoko wedged herself in a crevice of the cave and as a result, sustained abrasions to her dorsal or spinal region. The damaged tissue surrounding the injury started to degenerate and slough off leaving an open wound that was exposed to possible infection.
A team of experts at the Zoo’s Wildlife Healthcare and Research Centre, including surgeons from the Department of Hand & Reconstructive Microsurgery and the Division of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery, National University Hospital (NUH), vets and keepers, was quickly mobilised to treat Yoko.
Said Dr Serena Oh, Assistant Director, Veterinary, WRS: “We kept infection at bay with daily manuka honey dressings and antibiotics. A major challenge was the nature of the Komodo dragon’s skin. It does not have a subcutaneous layer of tissue that lies immediately below the top layer of vertebrate skin that would allow us to create a local skin flap to cover the wound. We needed a solution to generate tissue growth quickly with zero risk of infection”.
After consultation with several medical experts in the region, the team decided to use the V.A.C. Therapy System from KCI. Vacuum Assisted Closure®, or V.A.C.® Therapy has been clinically proven to treat serious or complex wounds through the use of negative pressure. The negative pressure creates a unique wound healing environment that has been shown to promote the wound healing process, reduce edema, prepare the wound bed for closure, promote the formation of granulation tissue and remove infectious materials.
According to Dr Lee Shu Jin, Consultant, Division of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery at NUH treating Yoko, V.A.C.® Therapy has been used worldwide to treat over 3 million human patients, but this was the first time it had been used on a reptile, particularly a Komodo dragon. She said: “Reptiles normally heal very slowly but we are very happy to report that Yoko made great progress in her recovery with V.A.C.® Therapy. She was also eating and moving normally throughout the entire process.”
Ms Fanny Lai, WRS Group CEO, said, “The successful treatment of Yoko was a result of teamwork between our veterinary and consultant expertise and the keepers. It was also made possible with our excellent clinical facilities at the Wildlife Healthcare and Research Centre. The veterinary team is responsible for the health of almost 4,000 animals at Singapore Zoo and Night Safari. Our demonstrated capabilities in wildlife medical treatment put us in the lead as a regional centre of excellence for wildlife veterinary healthcare and research in conserving global biodiversity.”
As part of an on-going tripartite collaboration between the Singapore Zoo, Lisbon Zoo in Portugal and Ueno Zoo in Japan, the Singapore Zoo is expecting yet another successful Komodo dragon hatching. On 11 November last year, the Zoo collected another viable egg that was laid by Yoko. The incubation period of Komodo dragons is usually nine months. The recent viable egg collected is likely to hatch sometime in August this year.
Meanwhile, the first young Komodo dragon, which hatched on 15 November 2009, is now close to seven months old. It is approximately 50cm in length, which is five times its size at birth. Weaned on a diet of pinkies (young mice), the little dragon’s diet is gradually changing to include small furred mice and strips of beef dusted with calcium.
Singapore, 15 June 2010 – Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) and CapitaLand have launched a nation-wide competition today to name the pair of Giant Pandas which will arrive in Singapore in 2011.
The pair of male and female pandas will be on loan to WRS from the China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA) as part of a 10-year joint collaboration to promote the conservation of Giant Pandas and kick-start a breeding research programme. WRS is the parent company of Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari, Singapore Zoo and the upcoming River Safari, which will be home to the pandas. CapitaLand, one of Asia’s largest real estate companies, is the Presenting Sponsor and Conservation Donor of the Giant Panda collaborative programme.
From now till 31 August 2010, members of the public can submit their entries for the two new furry black and white residents at www.pandas.com.sg. The names must be symbolic in meaning, reflect the close relationship between Singapore and China, and be easy to pronounce. Suggested names given for both male and female Giant Pandas must be in Chinese, with the option of an English, Malay or Tamil translation. Each entry comes with a participation fee of SGD $2, which will be donated in full to the Giant Panda Conservation Fund for the pandas’ upkeep.
The winning pair of names, to be announced in October 2010, will be picked by a panel of judges comprising representatives from the Singapore Tourism Board, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Singapore, WRS and CapitaLand. The winner will receive a complimentary three-night stay at any Ascott serviced residence worldwide, an exclusive preview of the Giant Panda exhibit when it opens in 2012 and other attractive prizes.
The River Safari, Asia’s first river-themed park and WRS’ fourth and latest nature attraction, will be home to the two Giant Pandas. Giant Pandas are the rarest members of the bear family and are considered one of the world’s most endangered animals. About 1,600 Giant Pandas are estimated to be left in the wild, and to ensure the existence of these endearing creatures, some 200 Giant Pandas have been placed in captive breeding programmes in wildlife parks across the world.
“The arrival of the Giant Pandas is a milestone for WRS and Singapore. We call upon the local community to welcome these gentle creatures by taking part in a nation-wide search for their names, to demonstrate our commitment to wildlife conservation and to celebrate the close ties between Singapore and China,” said Ms Fanny Lai, Group CEO of Wildlife Reserves Singapore.
Mr Liew Mun Leong, President and CEO of CapitaLand Group, said, “The Giant Panda collaborative programme will raise cultural exchange and understanding between Singapore and China and further strengthen the strong relationship between the two countries. It is against this backdrop that CapitaLand, as an active social investor in Singapore and China, is proud to be the Presenting Sponsor and Conservation Donor of the programme. This naming contest for the two Giant Pandas will raise conservation awareness of the Singapore public as we get ready to welcome these Chinese national treasures to Singapore next year.”