BE WHISKED AWAY BY FAIRY TALE MAGIC AT SAFARI BOO

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River Safari’s trick or treat event returns with new live-action performances, free admission for kids and an enchanting night with fairy tale characters

SINGAPORE, 8 October 2015 – Dress up the kids in costume ball finery for the cutest trick or treat event in town, and be mesmerised as little ones dance and mingle with fairy tale characters at River Safari’s annual Safari Boo this October.

Back for the second year, Safari Boo 2015 will see River Safari transformed into a fantastical wonderland where kids can go trick-or-treating, discover river monsters at twilight and enjoy two specially themed presentations, among other festivities. Children aged 12 years and below enjoy free admission from 6pm* on event nights.

Ms Isabel Cheng, Chief Marketing Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said: “Safari Boo’s merry-not-scary proposition provides an opportunity for families and children to have trick or treat fun without the fright, and gives little ones and adults a chance to play make-believe and dress creatively. We are thrilled by the strong turnout during its launch last year, and look forward to welcoming more visitors this year with more characters, interactive discovery stations, performances and animal encounters for an educational and fun night.”

Safari Boo 2015 features two all-new shows titled Furry Tales and Be My Guests Royal Ball. Furry Tales puts a twist on familiar tales such as Snow White and Puss in Boots. Animal superstars will thrill audiences with their natural behaviours and friendly characters will showcase creatures such as the slithery snake and owl, and debunk the myths surrounding them. For fun fairy tale pageantry, join Fairy Godmother at Be My Guests Royal Ball where the best dressed will be crowned in this music-filled spectacle for kids.

More than 150 visitors, including costume-clad kids from Tao Nan School, Zhangde Primary School and Between Two Trees Preschool attended a special preview of River Safari’s annual Safari Boo on 7 October 2015. In addition to trick or treat trails and fairy tale characters such as Geppetto and Pinocchio (above), Safari Boo 2015 features interactive discovery stations and free admission for children aged 12 years and below from 6pm.

More than 150 visitors, including costume-clad kids from Tao Nan School, Zhangde Primary School and Between Two Trees Preschool attended a special preview of River Safari’s annual Safari Boo on 7 October 2015. In addition to trick or treat trails and fairy tale characters such as Geppetto and Pinocchio (above), Safari Boo 2015 features interactive discovery stations and free admission for children aged 12 years and below from 6pm. Photo by: Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

As part of the Safari Boo festivities in October and November, visitors can come up-close with animals such as the ball python and great white pelican in a special animal presentation titled Furry Tales.  Photo by Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

As part of the Safari Boo festivities in October and November, visitors can come up-close with animals such as the ball python and great white pelican in a special animal presentation titled Furry Tales. Photo by Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

Learn how animals navigate the woods at night in Hansel & Gretel’s House of Fun and have a scaly encounter with the green iguana (above) at the Friends of the Sea Trick or Treat Trail. Back for the second year, Safari Boo 2015 features a line-up of adorable fairy tale characters, two all-new shows and free admission for children aged 12 years and below from 6pm. Photo by: Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

Learn how animals navigate the woods at night in Hansel & Gretel’s House of Fun and have a scaly encounter with the green iguana (above) at the Friends of the Sea Trick or Treat Trail. Back for the second year, Safari Boo 2015 features a line-up of adorable fairy tale characters, two all-new shows and free admission for children aged 12 years and below from 6pm. Photo by: Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

RIVER SAFARI SPRINGS SAFARI BOO CHILDREN’S DAY SURPRISE

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Safari Boo characters go to school to spread joy and trick-or-treat fun to over 60 kids from the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS)

More than 60 kids from the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) – Woodlands Gardens School were presented with an early trick-or-treat surprise in school on 1 October, with their school hall transformed with colourful livery and a burst of prancing fairy tale characters from River Safari’s Safari Boo. Held on the last two weekends in October, Safari Boo is River Safari’s merry-not-scary event for kids where families and kids can enjoy trick-or-treat trails, interactive discovery stations, special animal presentations and up-close encounters with river monsters at night. Photo by Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

More than 60 kids from the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) – Woodlands Gardens School were presented with an early trick-or-treat surprise in school on 1 October, with their school hall transformed with colourful livery and a burst of prancing fairy tale characters from River Safari’s Safari Boo. Held on the last two weekends in October, Safari Boo is River Safari’s merry-not-scary event for kids where families and kids can enjoy trick-or-treat trails, interactive discovery stations, special animal presentations and up-close encounters with river monsters at night. Photo by Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

SINGAPORE, 1 October 2015 – Ahead of Children’s Day, more than 60 kids from the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) – Woodlands Gardens School were presented with an early trick-or-treat surprise in school this morning. Instead of the usual school assembly, the kids entered a hall splashed with colourful livery and a burst of prancing fairy tale characters from River Safari’s Safari Boo.

Photo by Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

Photo by Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

The kids also got an opportunity to play make-believe and dress up in fancy costumes, with a little help from the Safari Boo crew. Photo by Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

Back for its second year after strong turnout in 2014, the merry-not-scary Safari Boo event will see River Safari transformed into a fantastical wonderland where kids will meet adorable fairy tale characters, go through a journey of wildlife discovery featuring trick-or-treat stations and enjoy two themed presentations, among other programmes.

Held on 23, 24, 25, 30, 31 Oct and 1 Nov, this year’s fairy tale theme will feature a line-up of fantastical characters from Pinocchio to the Little Mermaid. Children aged 12 years and below enjoy free admission from 6pm. More information can be found on www.safariboo.sg

Children’s Day came early to the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) – Woodlands Gardens School when River Safari brought Safari Boo to the school with opportunities for students to dress up, get their faces painted, and a live performance by Safari Boo characters. Held on the last two weekends in October, Safari Boo is River Safari’s merry-not-scary event for kids where families and kids can enjoy trick-or-treat trails, interactive discovery stations, special animal presentations and up-close encounters with river monsters at night. Photo by Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

Children’s Day came early to the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) – Woodlands Gardens School when River Safari brought Safari Boo to the school with opportunities for students to dress up, get their faces painted, and a live performance by Safari Boo characters. Held on the last two weekends in October, Safari Boo is River Safari’s merry-not-scary event for kids where families and kids can enjoy trick-or-treat trails, interactive discovery stations, special animal presentations and up-close encounters with river monsters at night. Photo by Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

NO BABY PANDA AT RIVER SAFARI…FOR NOW

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Vets and keepers confirm giant panda Jia Jia’s pseudopregnancy, a state common worldwide for pandas under human care

After multiple ultrasound scans and months of monitoring Jia Jia’s behaviours and hormone level, vets and keepers at River Safari concluded that the seven-year-old female is not pregnant and was undergoing pseudopregnancy.

After multiple ultrasound scans and months of monitoring Jia Jia’s behaviours and hormone level, vets and keepers at River Safari concluded that the seven-year-old female is not pregnant and was undergoing pseudopregnancy.

SINGAPORE, 23 September 2015 – Despite promising signs and after months of monitoring, River Safari’s female panda, Jia Jia, will not be delivering a cub this year. Based on scientific data gathered from her behaviours and hormone levels, the birthing window has now passed and panda caretakers concluded that the seven-year-old bear is not pregnant.

Jia Jia underwent artificial insemination on 18 April after an unsuccessful mating attempt with her male counterpart, Kai Kai. Since July, she was seen eating less bamboo, sleeping more and her hormone levels were increasing – all signs consistent with pregnancy or pseudopregnancy. Giant pandas commonly display pseudopregnancies and experts worldwide are often not able to determine pandas’ pregnancy status until a late stage.

Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Chief Life Sciences Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said: “Our team of vets and keepers were cautiously optimistic in welcoming a baby panda and while we cannot expect one this year, we are pleased and encouraged by the development of Kai Kai and Jia Jia. The past months have provided an invaluable learning experience for us in understanding the complex reproduction and biology of one of the world’s most charismatic species, and we hope for better results next year.”

Panda caretakers will review information and data collected in the last few months before the next breeding season for the bears begin around April. To get the pandas accustomed to physical contact with each other, keepers aim to bring the pandas together before the start of the mating season.

In addition, caretakers will continue to vary daylight hours and temperature in the Giant Panda Forest – a technique which successfully triggered the breeding cycles of the pandas in April this year. Pandas’ mating instincts are brought on by hormonal changes in response to seasonal variations such as temperature changes and increasing day length from winter to spring. To simulate this seasonal transition, the pandas will return to their dens earlier between October to March, and later between April to September.

BIRTHDAY SUSPENSE FOR GIANT PANDAS AT RIVER SAFARI

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Giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia celebrate birthdays and third anniversary in Singapore; Changes in Jia Jia’s hormones and behaviours keep caretakers on toes over possible pregnancy

Female panda Jia Jia, who was late for her birthday party, turns seven today. She enjoyed a colourful birthday cake made of ice, bamboo, apples and carrots at River Safari’s Panda Party. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE.

Female panda Jia Jia, who was late for her birthday party, turns seven today. She enjoyed a colourful birthday cake made of ice, bamboo, apples and carrots at River Safari’s Panda Party. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE.

SINGAPORE, 3 September 2015 – As she quietly celebrated her 7th birthday this morning, River Safari’s female panda Jia Jia continues to keep a little secret which has been keeping vets and keepers on their toes over changes in her behaviours.

In the past two months, panda caretakers have been playing a guessing game on whether the bear is pregnant or going through pseudopregnancy, a common state in which pandas exhibit hormonal and behavioural changes that indicate they are pregnant when they are not.

After the panda underwent artificial insemination on 18 April, caretakers, including a panda specialist from China, have been closely monitoring her behaviours and hormone levels, watching for signs of pregnancy. Since July, Jia Jia has been eating less bamboo, sleeping more, spending more time in her den and her hormone levels are increasing – all signs consistent with pregnancy or pseudopregnancy. Giant pandas commonly display pseudopregnancies and experts worldwide are often not able to determine pandas’ pregnancy status until a late stage.

Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Chief Life Sciences Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said: “Under the watchful eyes of our vets and keepers, both Kai Kai and Jia Jia continue to develop well in their Singapore home. Both reached sexual maturity for the first time this year and we are now tracking Jia Jia closely. We hope the data and knowledge gathered from the study of Kai Kai and Jia Jia will add to the global understanding of this endangered species, and contribute to the conservation of giant pandas.”

Vets and keepers have been conducting weekly ultrasound scans to detect a foetus but the results have been inconclusive. Panda caretakers could not detect any foetus based on a recent ultrasound scan on 31 August. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE.

Vets and keepers have been conducting weekly ultrasound scans to detect a foetus but the results have been inconclusive. Panda caretakers could not detect any foetus based on a recent ultrasound scan on 31 August.
PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE.

Since 23 July, vets and keepers have been conducting weekly ultrasound scans in an attempt to detect a foetus but the results have been inconclusive. The gestation period for a giant panda is typically five months, and the foetus only starts to develop a few weeks before birth.

Dr Serena Oh, Assistant Director of Veterinary Services, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said: “Her behaviours are in line with a rise in progesterone but it is not easy to confirm her pregnancy because the gestation period varies for each panda. Giant pandas have delayed implantation and it is difficult to see the small foetus during ultrasound scans. We can only definitively conclude she is not pregnant once her hormone levels return to normal and she has not delivered, but for now, it is still a guessing game.”

Classified as “endangered” with only 1,600 left in the wild, giant pandas are notoriously difficult to breed. River Safari’s pandas were brought together to mate in April, after vets and keepers had successfully triggered breeding behaviours through controlled lighting and temperature in Giant Panda Forest. As the mating session appeared unsuccessful, Jia Jia was artificially inseminated.

Vets and keepers will continue monitoring Jia Jia’s hormone levels and conduct ultrasound scans. The public can follow Jia Jia’s development via Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s Twitter account (@tweetWRS) with the hashtag #SGPanda.

Jia Jia’s mate, Kai Kai, was also presented with a cake today where he enjoyed the birthday treat in the company of 30 pre-school kids from PCF Zhenghua. The male panda will turn eight on 14 September.

The pandas’ birthdays will be marked with a Panda Party Week from 5 to 13 September, where both bears will receive daily treats as a form of enrichment. In addition, visitors can look forward to interactive booths to learn more about giant pandas, and get hands-on with arts and crafts. Visitors can also enjoy one-for-one promotions on exclusive panda merchandise, as well as panda-licious treats. To mark the pandas’ coming of age, children born in 2007 and 2008 enter River Safari for free in September. Free admission is extended to Singaporeans, permanent residents and long-term visit pass holders.

RIVER CRITTERS SEEK YOUNG ALLIES THIS JUNE HOLIDAYS

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A shoal of River Games, up-close animal encounters and admission discounts await explorers at River Safari

Take part in River Games this June school holidays and stand a chance to meet River Safari’s furry duo – beavers Justin and Selena – in a first-ever behind-the-scenes playtime session to learn more about these fascinating animals from a friendly guide. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE.

Take part in River Games this June school holidays and stand a chance to meet River Safari’s furry duo – beavers Justin and Selena – in a first-ever behind-the-scenes playtime session to learn more about these fascinating animals from a friendly guide. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE.

13 May 2015, SINGAPORERiver Safari will host River Games from 6 to 28 June and visitors can look forward to non-stop fun with animal-themed challenges, live game shows, up-close animal encounters, and unbeatable discounts on park admission.

Held on weekends, River Games offer brain-teasers for young minds as they play animal heroes, from saving drowning giant otter babies to helping crocodiles navigate through a maze to find their partners. Featuring various activity stations from remote-controlled games to carnival-style challenges, kids embark on a mission to help animal friends find their home, food and even protect the species.

Those hungry for more competition can participate in twice-daily game shows that test their wits on animal facts. Game show winners can revel in an unforgettable experience with binturong babies or two of River Safari’s furry couple – beavers Justin and Selena – in a first-ever behind-the-scenes playtime session where a guide will share more about these animals. Curious minds can get the guessing fun going with riddles splashed across the park and look forward to seeing animals receiving treats and toys designed to provide mentally and physically-enriching activities.

NTUC card holders enjoy special rates where kids (aged 3 to 12 years) enter at only $5 (usual price $18) with every adult admission ticket to River Safari. Singaporeans, permanent residents and employment pass holders enjoy 50% discount on River Safari tickets when purchasing Singapore Zoo or Night Safari tickets for visits on the same day.

Visitors looking for up-close animal encounters can join the park’s friendly guide in a River Trail and observe keepers feeding the animals, along with a live commentary on their diet and amazing natural behaviours. Lucky ones can also have a feel of some of the river critters during this trail!

JUNE HOLIDAY ACTIVITIES
Dates: 6-28 June (weekends only)
Time: 9am to 6.00pm (various timings)
Venue: River Safari (activities at various locations around the park)

GET YOUR GAME FACE ON & WIN WEEKLY PRIZES
Get your game face on in this Instagram contest and stand a chance to win River Safari passes and exclusive never-before animal encounters with binturong babies and beavers Justin and Selena!
1. Grab a loved one and show us your best game faces
2. Upload your photo on Instagram with #RiverGames2015
3. Get the most number of votes on www.rivergames.sg
*Terms and conditions apply for promotions. Visit http://www.riversafari.com.sg/eventspromos/promotions.html for details.

KEEPERS AND VETS PUT PANDAS IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE AT RIVER SAFARI

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Giant pandas Kai Kai & Jia Jia enter mating season for the first time; Panda caretakers successfully trigger breeding behaviours through controlled lighting and temperature in Giant Panda Forest

Giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia displayed breeding behaviours for the first time at River Safari and were brought together to mate in their den on Friday, 17 April. The 40-minute session did not appear to be successful, which is typical for first-time breeders as they may not know how to mate. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE.

Giant pandas Kai Kai & Jia Jia displayed breeding behaviours for the first time at River Safari and were brought together to mate in their den on Friday, 17 April. The 40-minute session did not appear to be successful, which is typical for first-time breeders as they may not know how to mate. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE.

SINGAPORE, 21 April 2015 Giant pandas Kai Kai & Jia Jia have officially crossed their first mating season, a cause for jubilation for caretakers at River Safari as the endangered bears are notoriously difficult to breed.

Kai Kai & Jia Jia’s development has been an interesting case for researchers as they are the first pair of giant pandas living so close to the equator. The pubescent pandas were suitable for pairing last year but did not show signs of readiness to mate. Pandas’ mating instincts are brought on by hormonal changes in response to seasonal variations, such as temperature changes and increasing day length from winter to spring.

River Safari’s keepers and vets have employed a number of measures since last November to trigger the breeding cycles of the pandas. These included varying the daylight hours and temperature in the panda exhibit to simulate the transition from winter to spring in the pandas’ homeland in Sichuan, China.

Pubescent panda Kai Kai started showing increasing levels of interest in Jia Jia following efforts by keepers and vets in altering exhibit conditions to trigger breeding behaviours. In early April, the giant pandas were frequently seen peering through the gap in the closed gate linking their exhibits, scent-marking their areas and bleating at each other. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE.

The pandas responded. Seven-year-old Kai Kai started bleating and scent-marking more frequently to attract six-year-old Jia Jia, who showed the first sign of coming into estrous on 5 April, marked by her swollen genital, restless behaviour and hormonal analysis that indicated she was in heat. The two bears were also frequently seen calling out to each other and looking through a closed gate linking their exhibit.

River Safari’s keepers and vets have employed a number of measures since November 2014 to trigger the breeding cycles of the pandas, and the bears responded well. Since 5 April, six-year-old female Jia Jia started showing signs that she was in heat. She was restless, pacing in the exhibit, rolling on the ground and attempting to breach the gate connecting hers and Kai Kai’s exhibit. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE.

River Safari’s keepers and vets have employed a number of measures since November 2014 to trigger the breeding cycles of the pandas, and the bears responded well. Since 5 April, six-year-old female Jia Jia started showing signs that she was in heat. She was restless, pacing in the exhibit, rolling on the ground and attempting to breach the gate connecting hers and Kai Kai’s exhibit. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE.

Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Chief Life Sciences Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said: “The latest development with Kai Kai & Jia Jia spells exciting times for panda researchers. They are the first pair of giant pandas to live so close to the equator, and we have shown that we can provide the right conditions to elicit mating behaviours. Maintaining a sustainable population of these critically endangered animals under human care is a crucial part of their conservation plan.”

On the evening of 17 April, both pandas were brought together for the first time in their dens for natural mating. The 40-minute session did not appear to be successful, which is typical for first-time breeders as they may not know how to mate. A decision was made to carry out artificial insemination to increase Jia Jia’s chances of conceiving.

As it became evident that the giant pandas were ready for pairing, on 17 April, keepers brought Kai Kai and Jia Jia together for the first time in an attempt at natural mating. Kai Kai curiously sniffed Jia Jia during their first introduction without barriers. Previously, both pandas have never been in close physical contact with each other. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE.

As it became evident that the giant pandas were ready for pairing, on 17 April, keepers brought Kai Kai and Jia Jia together for the first time in an attempt at natural mating. Kai Kai curiously sniffed Jia Jia during their first introduction without barriers. Previously, both pandas have never been in close physical contact with each other. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE.

Dr Serena Oh, Assistant Director of Veterinary Services, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said: “Panda reproduction is a notoriously complex process, with females ovulating once a year, in which they are fertile for only 24 to 36 hours. Jia Jia’s hormones started falling on Friday and we needed to move quickly to artificial insemination due to the short window when female pandas are able to conceive.”

On 18 April, male panda Kai Kai was brought into the Wildlife Healthcare and Research Centre for a health check, followed by electroejaculation which is a technique commonly used for semen collection. To ensure a higher chance of conception, the dedicated team of veterinarians and giant panda keepers carried out artificial insemination after an unsuccessful mating session. From left to right (foreground): Head Veterinarian Dr Serena Oh, male panda Kai Kai, Senior Veterinarian Dr Abraham Matthews and Veterinarian Dr Anwar Ali. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE.

On 18 April, male panda Kai Kai was brought into the Wildlife Healthcare and Research Centre for a health check, followed by electroejaculation which is a technique commonly used for semen collection. To ensure a higher chance of conception, the dedicated team of veterinarians and giant panda keepers carried out artificial insemination after an unsuccessful mating session.
From left to right (foreground): Head Veterinarian Dr Serena Oh, male panda Kai Kai, Senior Veterinarian Dr Abraham Matthews and Veterinarian Dr Anwar Ali. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE.

She continued: “In the next few months, we will continue to monitor Jia Jia’s hormone levels and conduct ultrasounds to determine if she is pregnant. We will wait and hope for the best.”

In an attempt to increase her chances for a baby panda, Jia Jia was brought into the Wildlife Healthcare and Research Centre for artificial insemination. The vets will monitor Jia Jia for signs of pregnancy in the next few months. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE.

In an attempt to increase her chances for a baby panda, Jia Jia was brought into the Wildlife Healthcare and Research Centre for artificial insemination. The vets will monitor Jia Jia for signs of pregnancy in the next few months. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE.

The gestation period for a panda is typically five months, and one or two cubs are usually born.

HAND-RAISED BABY MANATEE CANOLA WINS HEARTS AT RIVER SAFARI

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Aquarists provide round-the-clock care for abandoned calf Canola and re-introduce her to manatee family

Neglected by her mother after birth, manatee calf Canola (foreground) can now be found swimming with the rest of the manatee herd at River Safari’s Amazon Flooded Forest exhibit after receiving round-the-clock care and successful reintroduction by her human caregivers. PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Neglected by her mother after birth, manatee calf Canola (foreground) can now be found swimming with the rest of the manatee herd at River Safari’s Amazon Flooded Forest exhibit after receiving round-the-clock care and successful reintroduction by her human caregivers. PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Singapore, 8 April 2015 – The 33kg abandoned calf in River Safari’s Amazon Flooded Forest had to be watched 24 hours for the first few days, fed every two to three hours during the first three months, and re-introduced gradually to its family – a Herculean task that the team of aquarists dived into to give the baby, named Canola, a fighting chance to live.

Born on 6 August last year, Canola is the offspring of the Flooded Forest’s largest manatee – 23-year-old Eva which measures 3.5m and weighs more than 1,100kg. For unknown reasons, Eva abandoned her latest calf despite having successfully raised eight offspring in the past. Eva is also a proud grandmother of two.

To ensure that animals in River Safari retain their parental behaviours, zoologists strive to have the parents raise their offspring. In the case of Canola, there was no other option but to have aquarists hand-raise the newborn.

Deputy Head Aquarist Keith So bottle-feeds manatee calf Canola with a special milk formula infused with canola oil when she was abandoned by her mother after birth at River Safari’s Amazon Flooded Forest. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Deputy Head Aquarist Keith So bottle-feeds manatee calf Canola with a special milk formula infused with canola oil when she was abandoned by her mother after birth at River Safari’s Amazon Flooded Forest. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Mr Wah Yap Hon, Curator, Zoology, River Safari, said: “Hand-raised animals tend to imprint on their human caregivers. The babies will attach themselves to, and learn certain behaviours from their human foster parents, and may not have a chance to bond with their family or other members of their species. In the case of Eva and Canola, we stepped in as a last resort to ensure the survival of this precious baby.”

Similar to caring for a human baby, hand-raising an animal baby requires planning and hard work. For Canola, it involved bottle-feeding every two to three hours from 8am to 10pm daily for the first three months. To increase her fat intake and substitute her mother’s highly nutritious milk, Canola was given a special milk formula infused with canola oil, which inspired her name. To ensure Canola’s safety, the aquarists moved her to a shallow holding pool to minimise the risk of other manatees crowding her and making it challenging for her to rise to the water’s surface to breathe.

Neglected by her mother after birth, manatee calf Canola undergoes a weekly weigh-in at a holding pool in River Safari where aquarists also measure her body length to monitor her growth. Canola’s last recorded weight was a healthy 74kg. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Neglected by her mother after birth, manatee calf Canola undergoes a weekly weigh-in at a holding pool in River Safari where aquarists also measure her body length to monitor her growth. Canola’s last recorded weight was a healthy 74kg. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

“Under the doting care and great team effort of her human caregivers, Canola steadily gained weight and hit all the important developmental milestones of a healthy calf. By December, Canola started swimming with the rest of the herd in the main aquarium, forming close bonds with her species,” said Wah.

Deputy Head Aquarist Keith So conducts a physical check on manatee calf Canola at River Safari’s Amazon Flooded Forest, the world’s largest freshwater aquarium. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Deputy Head Aquarist Keith So conducts a physical check on manatee calf Canola at River Safari’s Amazon Flooded Forest, the world’s largest freshwater aquarium. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Since February, Canola’s caregivers have gradually cut down on her milk intake to four feedings a day to accommodate her increasing diet of vegetables. Manatees 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.

Manatees are listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN* Red List of Threatened Species. Their numbers have declined in the last century due to hunting pressures, entrapment in commercial nets and collisions with propellers and motorboats. Through captive breeding, River Safari hopes to contribute to the population of threatened freshwater species such as the manatee. Canola’s birth is an important one as it contributes to the captive populations of manatees in zoological institutions.

Manatee calf Canola (left), which has been melting the hearts of River Safari’s aquarists since August last year, is set to charm visitors now that she is exploring the Amazon Flooded Forest exhibit together with the manatee herd. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Manatee calf Canola (left), which has been melting the hearts of River Safari’s aquarists since August last year, is set to charm visitors now that she is exploring the Amazon Flooded Forest exhibit together with the manatee herd. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

River Safari’s manatee herd of 12 comprises five males and seven females, making it one of the largest collections of manatees among zoological institutions. These slow-moving mammals can be found swimming gracefully amongst giant trees alongside other aquatic species, such as the arapaima and red-tailed catfish, in the world’s largest freshwater aquarium at the Amazon Flooded Forest.

* IUCN: International Union for the Conservation of Nature

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