WHITE TIGER OMAR UNDERGOES BLOOD TEST

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Regular vet checks for Singapore Zoo’s 15-year-old white tiger to keep tabs on his health

Image 1: A team of three from the zoology and veterinary department of Wildlife Reserves Singapore (parent company of Singapore Zoo) preparing 15-year-old male white tiger Omar for a blood draw. Here, head vet Dr Serena Oh (right) prepares a syringe as junior keeper Hamidan Mislan holds steady the tail, while deputy head Keeper Kumar Vall (centre) distracts Omar on the other side of the conditioning chute with calming words and chunks of meat. Photo Credit: Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

Image 1: A team of three from the zoology and veterinary department of Wildlife Reserves Singapore (parent company of Singapore Zoo) preparing 15-year-old male white tiger Omar for a blood draw. Here, head vet Dr Serena Oh (right) prepares a syringe as junior keeper Hamidan Mislan holds steady the tail, while deputy head Keeper Kumar Vall (centre) distracts Omar on the other side of the conditioning chute with calming words and chunks of meat. Photo Credit: Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

Singapore, 29 January 2015 – The usually active white tiger Omar lay down quietly in his conditioning chute as deputy head keeper Kumar Vall spoke in calming tones and fed him meaty treats. On the other side of the chute, head vet Dr Serena Oh and junior keeper Hamidan Mislan quietly and quickly drew blood from the 15-year-old male tiger’s tail. The procedure, a blood draw to determine Omar’s health, was over in less than 10 minutes.

As Omar progresses into his senior years, keepers and vets are keeping a closer eye on the white tiger to ensure they stay on top of his healthcare needs. Blood test results showed that his liver and kidneys are functioning normally. He is also receiving treatment for keratisis in his left eye, a condition in which the cornea becomes inflamed or dry.

Image 2: About 3ml of blood was drawn from Omar through his tail. His blood test results revealed that he is generally in good health for a tiger well into his geriatric life stage. His liver and kidneys are found to be functioning normally. Photo Credit: Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

Image 2: About 3ml of blood was drawn from Omar through his tail. His blood test results revealed that he is generally in good health for a tiger well into his geriatric life stage. His liver and kidneys are found to be functioning normally. Photo Credit: Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

Unlike health checks for some of the zoo’s animals which require sedation, Omar’s was conducted through operant conditioning, a method that allows keepers to train and obtain desired behaviours from animals under their care. This technique is less stressful for the animal, keepers and vets when conducting veterinary and animal management procedures.

Image 3: The white tiger has been conditioned to respond to certain commands which allow zoo keepers and vets to perform regular check-ups without putting him through the stressful process of sedation. Here, Omar responds to deputy head keeper Kumar Vall’s hand signal to open his mouth to check on the condition of his gums and teeth. Photo Credit: Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

Image 3: The white tiger has been conditioned to respond to certain commands which allow zoo keepers and vets to perform regular check-ups without putting him through the stressful process of sedation. Here, Omar responds to deputy head keeper Kumar Vall’s hand signal to open his mouth to check on the condition of his gums and teeth. Photo Credit: Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

Through this method, Omar was conditioned to respond to commands such as sitting and opening his mouth, allowing zoo staff to keep an eye on his health more regularly while strengthening the bond between him and his keepers.

Popular with visitors, Omar has charmed visitors since arriving in Singapore Zoo on 6 April 2001. Born in Indonesia’s Taman Safari, Omar and his two sisters Winnie and Jippie arrived in Singapore when they were 19 months old. Winnie and Jippie have since passed on.

In the wild, tigers have an average lifespan of between 10 to 15 years while those in zoological institutions live 16-20 years on average.

JURONG BIRD PARK UNVEILS WINGS OF ASIA AVIARY

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Rejuvenated aviary houses one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of rare Asian birds;
Park welcomes 11 threatened species for conservation breeding

Guest-of-Honour Mr Desmond Lee, Minister of State for National Development, receives a key to Jurong Bird Park’s rejuvenated Wings of Asia aviary from Sassy the cockatoo.

Guest-of-Honour Mr Desmond Lee, Minister of State for National Development, receives a key to Jurong Bird Park’s rejuvenated Wings of Asia aviary from Sassy the cockatoo. (Photo Credit: Wildlife Reserves Singapore)

SINGAPORE, 21 January 2015 – Visitors to Jurong Bird Park can marvel at some of Asia’s rarest and most exotic birds with the unveiling of the Wings of Asia aviary today, in a ceremony officiated by Mr Desmond Lee, Minister of State for National Development.

With a collection of over 500 birds representing 135 species when complete, the rejuvenated aviary houses the largest diversity of birds in the park. It is home to one of the world’s most comprehensive and admired collections of Asian birds, including 24 threatened species such as the Bali mynah, Luzon bleeding-heart dove and black-winged starling. These species have been successfully hatched and raised as part of the park’s ongoing conservation breeding programmes.

Black-winged starling

Eleven of the 24 threatened species are new additions, with five being displayed for the first time in the park. These include the Javan green magpie, rufous-fronted laughingthrush and racquet-tailed parrot which are expected to arrive in the park soon. Plans are underway to kick-start a breeding programme for these birds whose numbers are declining rapidly in the wild due to habitat loss and degradation as well as excessive trapping for the cage-bird trade. Through conservation breeding, the park hopes to maintain and safeguard a sustainable population of these birds and eventually introduce selected species back into the wild, in their native lands.

Ms Claire Chiang, Chairman, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said: “Over the years, Jurong Bird Park has been actively involved in the conservation of Asia’s most precious birds, from boosting the numbers of threatened species to working with multiple agencies, to repopulating birds in their native habitats. The unveiling of Wings of Asia represents another feather in our conservation cap and we hope this crown jewel will inspire visitors to appreciate, understand and protect Asia’s winged wonders.”

Previously known as the Southeast Asian Birds Aviary, the 2,600 square-meter exhibit underwent a three-month makeover which included the expansion of its smaller aviaries, theming work, refreshed educational displays for visitors to learn about the different species of birds, and an overhaul of its aviary mesh for better viewing.

Visitors can look forward to special experiences such as feeding and chit-chat sessions with keepers to learn more about the feathered residents.