INCLUDES ENDANGERED SPECIES SUCH AS COTTON-TOP TAMARIN, PYGMY HIPPOPOTAMUS AND DOUC LANGUR
Singapore, 31 January 2011 – The year ended with a bumper brood of babies at the Singapore Zoo with nearly 300 births and hatchings in 2010, which include endangered species like the cotton-top tamarin, pygmy hippopotamus and the Douc langur.
Considered one of the world’s top 25 most endangered primates and classified as critically-endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the cotton-top tamarin is one of the few species that survives better in captivity than in the wild. Despite protection from the international laws, there are only about 2,000 adult cotton-top tamarins left in the wild in South America. Eleven cotton-top tamarins were born at the zoo last year. The park now has a thriving population of 30.
The Singapore Zoo also celebrated its sole pygmy hippopotamus birth for the year in October. This species is listed as endangered by the IUCN. Similar to the cotton-top tamarins, the survival of this reclusive mammal in captivity is higher than in the wild. With the latest addition, the Singapore Zoo now has four pygmy hippopotamus in its collection.
One of the most colourful primates, the Douc langur, known for its extremely striking appearance, is also considered endangered by IUCN. This species is endemic to Indochina and can be found in Lao, Vietnam and northern Cambodia. These primates suffer from intense levels of hunting for food and for use in traditional medicines. Destruction of its natural habitat is also a major threat to this species. Singapore Zoo saw four births last year and now has a population of 15.
Other animal babies welcomed in 2010 include the proboscis monkey, meerkat, manatee, spotted mousedeer, oriental small-clawed otter, Chinese stripe-necked turtle and Linne’s two-toed sloth, amongst the 44 species of births and hatchings.
“It has been very encouraging welcoming these newborns to our family of animals in the zoo, particularly those of an endangered status. WRS has enjoyed an abundant year of births and hatchings, and captive breeding is an important element of what we do for species conservation. With rising threats such as habitat loss, human encroachment and poaching, captive breeding programmes may be the only hope of saving some species for future generations,” said Mr Biswajit Guha, Director of Zoology at the Singapore Zoo.
The Singapore Zoo, operated by Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) which also runs the award winning Night Safari, Jurong Bird Park and the upcoming river-themed park, the River Safari, has a number of conservation research initiatives such as the captive breeding of proboscis monkeys and study of their dietary requirements, as well as hormonal analyses to chart the oestrous cycles. It continues to work with other zoos and wildlife institutions around the world to facilitate animal exchanges to expand the captive gene pool and increase the population of endangered animal species.