First polar bear born in the tropics celebrates birthday in true Singapore style
Singapore, 26 December 2014 – Inuka, the first polar bear born in the tropics, turns 24 today at Singapore Zoo.
Inuka’s birthday celebration started bright and early as keepers presented him with a giant ice kachang* cake made of the bear’s favourite food like salmon, blueberries, watermelon and strawberries topped with whipped cream.
In the wee hours of 26 December 1990, Inuka was born in his mother’s den at Singapore Zoo and keepers have referred to him since as their ‘best Christmas present ever’. At 24, Inuka is well into his senior years and lives comfortably in his Frozen Tundra home which features climate-controlled resting areas and a large pool for him to swim in.
*Ice kachang is a dessert popular in Singapore, traditionally comprising ice shavings, syrup, and sweet treats like red beans, sweet corn and jelly.
New system deemed to provide higher degree of safety; Overhaul to be implemented in phases
Singapore, 15 December 2014 – Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) will be phasing in the protected contact elephant management system for all elephants in Night Safari and Singapore Zoo over the next few years.
When fully in place, all staff training and interaction with elephants under the protected contact system will be conducted through a physical safety barrier. The protected contact management system is based on positive reinforcement where animals are motivated by rewards such as food.
The two parks will be among the first zoological institutions in Asia to implement the protected contact management system for all elephants in its collection. Among the modern zoo community, this method is currently deemed to be the safest way to manage elephants while ensuring proper animal care and welfare.
Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Chief Life Sciences Officer, WRS, said, “The decision to adopt the protected contact management system was made after an internal review by our elephant managers and healthcare experts, who found that this system of management offers a safer work environment for the elephant keepers. Importantly, the new system will continue to allow our keepers access to the elephants for their daily care, although separated by a safety barrier.”
The complete implementation of the protected contact system will take three to five years as it will involve major redesign and construction of the elephant exhibits, back-of-house facilities as well as re-training of our elephants and elephant keepers.
The first phase of moving towards the protected contact system will be the cessation of programmes involving direct visitor contact with the elephants. From 5 January 2015, elephant rides and other activities where elephants are taken out of their exhibits will cease at the zoo. This is to allow the elephants to spend more time in the exhibits and to socialise among themselves.
Visitors to Singapore Zoo will still be able to enjoy the Elephants at Work and Play show (available twice daily at 11.30am and 3.30pm), and take part in elephant feeding sessions which happens after each show.
Dr Cheng continued, “Providing meaningful interactive opportunities with our animals is one of the most valuable services we bring to our visitors. Our new elephant exhibits will be designed to enable up-close encounters, and give us the chance to offer new behind-the-scenes experiences.”
Birth of two more cubs makes it a dozen babies in total for prolific Asian lion pair;
Only 300 Asian lions remain in India’s Gir Forest, the only place where they are found in the wild
Singapore, 9 December 2014 – As a sweet finale to Night Safari’s 20th anniversary this year, endangered Asian lion residents Khapat and Amba gifted the park with two Asian lion cubs, making them the 11th and 12th babies to be born to their prolific parents.
Born on 27 September, the tawny male and female pair was sexed, microchipped and given a round of vaccinations during their veterinary checkup in late November. Visitors can look out for them in upcoming months, when they will be introduced to their older siblings in the Asian lion exhibit along Night Safari’s tram route. For now, they are spending time bonding with mom in the cubbing den at a back of house facility.
Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Chief Life Sciences Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said: “It’s always heartening to welcome new babies into our collection, especially at a time when many of the world’s wildlife species are being threatened as a direct result of human-related activities. These births are a valuable addition to an assurance colony of Asian lions under human care, and will help to safeguard against extinction in the wild.”
The Asian lion is a separate subspecies from the African lion. Listed as endangered under the IUCN* Red List, it is smaller in size and sports a less significant mane compared to its African cousin. Most of the wild Asian lion population is found in India’s Gir Forest, a protected sanctuary where about 300 of these magnificent animals roam. Additionally, close to 340 Asian lions live in zoos. Night Safari has 13 lions in its pride, the fourth largest collection under human care.
Night Safari hopes that it will be able to contribute to Asian lion numbers, both wild and under human care, through its captive breeding programme. To date, Night Safari has successfully bred twelve Asian lion cubs, one of which was sent to Denmark’s Aalborg Zoo last June, as part of an animal exchange programme.
Award-winning Night Safari, the world’s first safari park for nocturnal animals, officially celebrated her 20th anniversary in May this year.
*IUCN: International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Seventh installment of popular run will be double the fun, with dedicated days
for competitive and fun runners over the weekend of 7 and 8 February 2015
Singapore, 3 December 2014 – Safari Zoo Run 2015 will be an even wilder affair compared to previous years, with activities spread across two days for the first time in the run’s seven-year history.
Next year’s run will see competitive runners racing on 7 February while 8 February will be the fun run where the runners will also get the opportunity to participate in a ‘Best Dressed Runner’ contest and get a chance to enjoy a whole host of carnival festivities.
The races, both competitive and fun, will transport runners past animal exhibits through meandering paths lined by greenery in Night Safari and Singapore Zoo.
Safari Zoo Run was conceived to commemorate Singapore Zoo’s famous matriarch and one of Singapore’s most adored personalities — Ah Meng the Sumatran orang utan. The iconic personality died of old age in February 2008.
Avid runners can look forward to competitive races such as the 12km or 6km Safari Zoo Challenge on 7 February. The top three winners in each of the competitive categories will stand to win prizes worth up to $300.
Little ones between 4-8 years of age can encourage their parents to sign up for the 2.8km Parent & Child Run, while kids between 8-12 years can take part in the 2.8km Fastest Kid race. Families looking to bond over a healthy walk amidst nature can enjoy a more leisurely pace with the 6km Safari Zoo Fun Run. All family-friendly activities are scheduled for 8 February.
For the first time in the run’s history, fun runners will be able to enjoy a Safari Zoo Run Carnival after their race, where festivities, such as a bazaar, mascots’ meet and greet sessions, fun fair stations, educational stations, and exciting performances await.
Each participant will receive an exclusive dri-fit Safari Zoo Run singlet or T-shirt (worth $24.90) and other attractive goodies including discounted admission to Night Safari or a chance to stroll through River Safari in the evening. In addition, all runners will walk away with an exclusive animal-motif finisher medal and a one-day entry to Singapore Zoo on the day of the run.
Early bird registration is now open until 31 December 2014. For more information, log on to www.safarizoorun.com.sg. Part of the proceeds from the Safari Zoo Run will go towards the care of threatened animals at Night Safari and Singapore Zoo.
Details at a glance
Dates and times : Safari Zoo Challenge
7 February 2015 (Saturday)
4.00pm – 7.00pm
Safari Zoo Fun Run
8 February 2015 (Sunday)
Races : 9.00am – 12.00pm
Carnival : 10.00am – 3.00pm
Venue : Night Safari and Singapore Zoo
80 Mandai Lake Road
* Child defied as 3-12 years old
** Free race participation for children below 3 years old. No runners’ entitlement for children below 3 years.
First feathered residents move into soon-to-be-opened Wings of Asia aviary
SINGAPORE, 4 December 2014 – Four critically endangered Bali mynahs, whose numbers add up to fewer than 50 in the wild, were among the first feathered residents to move into the new Wings of Asia aviary at Jurong Bird Park.
The Bali mynah, or Bali starling, is found only in the Bali islands of Indonesia and can be identified through its clear white feathers, black-tipped wings and vivid blue skin around its eyes. The declining numbers are primarily attributable to unsustainable, illegal trapping for the pet trade and rapid habitat destruction.
To conserve the species, Jurong Bird Park has been working with the Bali-based Begawan Foundation on a breeding and exchange programme to boost the population and enhance the gene pool of Bali mynahs raised under human care.
In the next few weeks, over 300 feathered residents will be moved into their new homes. Visitors to Jurong Bird Park will soon get to marvel at Asia’s rarest and most exotic birds with the unveiling of the Wings of Asia aviary in late January 2015.