From 29 March – 30 April 2013, Singapore Zoo invites all its Facebook fans to dust off their photo albums and share their favourite photo memory during a zoo outing to recount the zoo’s journey through the last 40 years.
Participants can enter the contest via the newly launched Singapore Zoo 40th anniversary celebrations microsite: zoo40.zoo.com.sg. It is open to everyone who is a Wildlife Reserves Singapore Facebook fan. Each fan may make unlimited submissions, but each photo can only be submitted once, and has to be accompanied by a caption to be eligible for a prize.* Winning photos will be unveiled on a photowall in June 2013.
Ten lucky winners will win a dining experience for two at Singapore Zoo’s Jungle Breakfast with Wildlife in June. Participants also stand to win Singapore Zoo admission tickets to re-live their memories in the park.
Singapore Zoo is one of four wildlife attractions managed by Wildlife Reserves Singapore, with the others being Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari and the upcoming River Safari. The Zoo is also a designated rescued wildlife centre by the governing authority.
Asia’s first and only river-themed wildlife park to feature rare and endangered animals from eight iconic river habitats; boat rides to be ready at a later date.
Singapore, 25 March 2013 – From 3 April, visitors can look forward to discovering the exotic wildlife found in eight iconic river habitats with the soft opening of River Safari.
The 12-ha River Safari is the newest addition to Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s portfolio of award-winning parks and will showcase animals from freshwater habitats inspired by eight of the world’s iconic rivers including the Mississippi, Nile, Mekong, Yangtze and Amazon rivers. The park will be home to over 150 plant species and 5,000 animal specimens representing 300 animal species, including one of the world’s largest collections of freshwater animals.
Among the unique aquatic and terrestrial animals featured in the park are endangered river giants such as the Giant Salamander, Giant Freshwater Stingray and Mekong Giant Catfish. River Safari is the only park in Asia to feature the Giant River Otter, the world’s largest otter that can grow up to 1.8 metres.
Ms Claire Chiang, Chairman, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said, “We look forward to welcoming visitors to River Safari and bringing them up-close to the fascinating wildlife that live in river habitats, which are disappearing faster than forest and marine environments. As the first and only river-themed wildlife park in Asia, River Safari aims to highlight the importance of freshwater ecosystems and inspire positive actions for conserving them. In addition, we also seek to play a part in global captive breeding programmes for endangered freshwater species.”
During the soft opening phase, visitors can walk through River Safari’s freshwater galleries and immersive exhibits, including the world’s largest freshwater aquarium at the Amazon Flooded Forest and the Giant Panda Forest. The park’s boat rides will not be available until later this year as they are undergoing technical adjustments.
River Safari opens daily from 9am to 6pm and tickets will be priced at S$35 (Adult), S$23 (Child between 3-12 years), and $17.50 (Senior citizen above 60 years). As the boat rides and some exhibits will not be ready until a later date, daily admission (refer to Appendix attached) during the soft opening phase will be priced at a discounted rate of S$25 (Adult), S$16 (Child between 3-12 years) and $12.50 (Senior citizen above 60 years). Visitors can purchase tickets at Singapore Zoo and River Safari’s ticket booth. River Safari extends free admission to beneficiaries of selected programmes by Voluntary Welfare Organisations (details on http://www.riversafari.com.sg).
From 3 April, visitors planning to see the giant pandas can do so only via River Safari. The current giant panda preview, which visitors pay a top-up fee in addition to Singapore Zoo admission ticket, will end on 31 March. Both pandas are housed at the Yangtze River zone that features the Yangtze alligator and the world’s largest amphibian – the Chinese giant salamander.
River Safari is designed and developed with the utmost concern for the environment, especially the Mandai Nature Reserve area where the park is situated. The park brings together the best in zoological architecture and design, with state-of-the-art exhibit artistry and technology to provide visitors with an immersive experience into the world of rivers and the landscapes they support. River Safari is the first attraction in Singapore to be conferred with the Building and Construction Authority’s Green Mark Platinum Award in the park category.
Gentle giants to be showcased at Amazon Flooded Forest exhibit.
Singapore, 13 March 2013 – Seven manatees were the first residents to move into the world’s largest freshwater aquarium at River Safari’s Amazon Flooded Forest exhibit.
A team comprising more than 20 zookeepers and veterinarians took two days to move the seven manatees – including two calves – from Singapore Zoo to their new home at River Safari’s Amazon Flooded Forest. The new exhibit showcases the annual flooding of the Amazon rainforest where fish and other creatures swim amongst giant trees. The manatees’ home at the world’s largest freshwater aquarium is four times bigger than their previous exhibit at Singapore Zoo.
Manatees are large, slow-moving aquatic mammals that can be found in coastal waters and rivers. They spend six to eight hours a day grazing on aquatic plants, which is why they are also known as sea cows. Adults typically consume 50-100kg of vegetation a day (equivalent to 10-15 percent of their body weight). Listed as vulnerable on the IUCN* Red List of Threatened Species, manatee numbers have declined throughout the last century due to hunting pressures and entrapment in commercial fishing nets. These gentle giants are often accidentally hit by motorboats.
Through captive breeding, River Safari hopes to contribute to the population of endangered freshwater species such as the manatee. The park now holds one of the largest collections of manatees among ISIS^ institutions with eleven manatees in total.
*IUCN – International Union for Conservation of Nature
^ISIS – International Species Information System
Number of wild Oriental Pied Hornbills in Singapore increase ten-fold since 2005 through joint conservation efforts.
Singapore, 08 March 2013 – In a global first, three Oriental Pied Hornbill eggs rescued from Pulau Ubin have been successfully incubated and hatched at Jurong Bird Park’s Breeding & Research Centre.
“This is the first time Oriental Pied Hornbills have been successfully artificially incubated, and it represents a big step in the conservation of these magnificent creatures native to Singapore and South East Asia,” said Dr Luis Carlos Neves, DVM, Assistant Director, Avian, Jurong Bird Park. “Oriental Pied Hornbills have very unique breeding behavior wherein the female seals herself into a tree cavity to lay eggs and raise the chicks. It is extremely challenging to artificially incubate these eggs, and it is rarely attempted. The fact that we have succeeded is good news for the global avian community as there is currently very limited data on these fascinating birds.”
The three rescued eggs had been abandoned by their mother. On 7 January, Rangers from National Parks Board (NParks) on Pulau Ubin found a nest with a broken seal, and after it was ascertained that the female hornbill had abandoned the nest, the eggs were sent to Jurong Bird Park where they were artificially incubated.
Jurong Bird Park welcomed the first hornbill chick hatchling on 25 January, weighing 22.6g. The second chick hatched 3 days later on 28 January, weighing 21.8g. The last chick hatched on 1 February, at 20g.
After the chicks hatched, they were fed six times a day, on a diet consisting of a mixture of fruit and dried insects. At a month old, they are fed thrice a day, but with an increase in fruit and commercial avian pellets.
Although listed as Least Concern on the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) red list, Oriental Pied Hornbills were not seen in Singapore for 140 years prior to 1994. The last sighting formally recorded was in 1855 by Alfred Russell Wallace. There were various inconclusive sightings over the following years. In 1994, a pair of wild hornbills was sighted on Pulau Ubin. Three years later, the first breeding record of hornbills was observed on Pulau Ubin. By 2005, there were about 10 individuals in the wild. That same year, a collaborative study between Jurong Bird Park, NParks and Singapore Avian Conservation Project was initiated with the intention to study the breeding and conservation of these birds.
With the knowledge gained from observing these birds in the Bird Park, artificial nest boxes were introduced to Pulau Ubin, which greatly increased the breeding of the Oriental Pied Hornbills. During the length of the five year project, Oriental Pied Hornbill numbers in the wild increased from around 10 individuals to 50 individuals. Today there are between 75 – 100 wild Oriental Pied Hornbills in Singapore.
“In addition to being able to marvel at these beautiful birds which are part of the Singaporean heritage, the significant increase in Oriental Pied Hornbill numbers in the wild means that Singapore has more natural fruit dispersers. These mid-sized birds regurgitate some fruit whole, while other fruit are dropped along the way before they are eaten. In this manner, the birds reach areas in Singapore which are untouched and even unknown, helping to re-populate the island with fruit trees,” noted Dr Luis Carlos Neves.
Jurong Bird Park has one of the largest collections of hornbills globally, with 17 species represented. The Park has 16 Oriental Pied Hornbills, some of which can be seen at the Hornbills & Toucans exhibit. During breeding season which takes place from November to March, cameras will be installed in the Oriental Pied Hornbill exhibit, and visitors can catch a glimpse of nesting activities through television screens placed at the exhibit.
Asia’s first and only river-themed wildlife park home to some of the world’s largest species of freshwater fish.
Singapore, 6 March 2013 – One of the many giants of River Safari – the Mekong giant catfish – moved into the soon-to-be-opened wildlife park today. This species is one of the world’s largest freshwater fish, capable of growing up to 3 metres in length and nearly 300 kilogrammes in weight.
Found mainly in the lower Mekong River in Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, the Mekong Giant Catfish is critically endangered as a result of human activities such as overfishing, pollution and the looming construction of hydroelectric dams. Experts estimate that the total population has decreased by 90% in the last decade, with only a few hundred individuals remaining in the wild.
As Asia’s first and only river-themed wildlife park, River Safari aims to create a greater awareness of freshwater habitat conservation by bringing visitors up close to fascinating animals – like the Mekong Giant Catfish – that are dependent on freshwater habitats. In addition, through captive breeding programmes, River Safari hopes to contribute to the population of endangered freshwater species.
Homegrown zoo among pioneers of open concept wildlife attractions.
Search is on for people who share Zoo’s 27 June birthday for special surprise.
Singapore, 5 March 2013 – Singapore Zoo, which ranks among the world’s best zoos, reaches another significant milestone this year as it turns 40; and the wildlife institution’s own growth and success story mirror closely that of the nation that bore it.
“As a young zoo in an equally young nation, turning 40 is monumental, and a time for us to both reflect and look ahead. We have learnt much along the way, and grown with our visitors who have come to appreciate and recognise our efforts in conservation, education, and recreation,” said Ms Claire Chiang, Chairman, Wildlife Reserves Singapore. “We hope, in our way of striving to provide exciting and meaningful experiences, we have managed to inspire in our visitors an appreciation of nature and wildlife.”
Built in the budding years of Singapore’s independence, Singapore Zoo was the brainchild of a very young team led by Dr Ong Swee Law. Although armed with little knowledge of zoos, their unreserved gusto and foresight propelled them ahead and Singapore Zoo has been a hit since its opening in 1973, with its pioneering open concept and its ‘people-friendliness’.
Over the years, Singapore Zoo became a major recreational and educational centre that grew up alongside the nation and her people, and the millions of tourists that arrive on the island. The zoo is an evergreen destination which many visitors discover as children with their parents or during school excursions. As years pass, they re-visit as parents when their own little ones are growing up, and eventually they return as grandparents with their grandchildren.
In 1994, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, then Senior Minister of Singapore, said, “The Singapore Zoo makes Singapore a better place for children and their parents.”
Echoing that sentiment even today, Ms Chiang continued, “Generations of Singaporeans have walked the paths of Singapore Zoo since we opened in 1973, supporting us and loving our family members like Ah Meng, Inuka, and Omar as their own. Many visited first as schoolchildren, then as adults with their own families. We are honoured to be a part of Singapore life, and we do hope that our visitors will continue the tradition of introducing their children, and even grandchildren, to the wonders of wildlife.”
To commemorate the momentous 40th year, Singapore Zoo will be rolling out celebratory activities from now till the end of the year. Among the most exciting is the search for people born on 27 June 1973 to join the Singapore Zoo Birthday Bash, 40% discounts off admission prices for people turning 40 in 2013, and more. Details of some of the upcoming activities:
The Wild Search for a 40th Birthday Buddy!: As part of the 40th birthday celebrations, Singapore Zoo is on the lookout for people who share her birthday on 27 June 1973. People born on that date are invited to email firstname.lastname@example.org and Singapore Zoo will invite them for a very special Singapore Zoo Birthday Bash, and take them on an exclusive tour with a zoo pioneer.
Turning 40 in 2013: From 1 March until 31 December 2013, Singaporeans and Permanent Residents who turn 40 this year can enjoy 40% off admission ticket prices for themselves and four other friends when they visit during their birthday month.
40th Birthday Bash Zoo Hunt: Over the 16-17 March school holiday weekend, the young (and young at heart) can take part in the 40th Birthday Bash Zoo Hunt. Participants get the chance to complete a trail that takes them through some of the Zoo’s most notable sites.