WORLD’S RAREST MACAWS TO DEBUT AT JURONG BIRD PARK

Jurong Bird Park will be the only public zoological institution where visitors can view all three remaining blue macaw species – Spix’s, Lear’s, and Hyacinth macaws.

Image (LEFT): Believed to be extinct in the wild, the critically endangered Spix’s macaw is distinguished within the blue macaw family by its size (it is the smallest) and elegant grey-blue plumage. (RIGHT): The endangered Lear’s macaw sports a bright yellow eye ring with a rich green-tinged cobalt blue plumage.
PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE, 24 August 2017 — Come end-November, local and international visitors will be able to get a glimpse of two of the world’s rarest macaws—the Spix’s macaw and the Lear’s macaw—in Jurong Bird Park, Asia’s largest bird paradise.

With the addition of these two species to the Hyacinth macaws that already reside in the park, Jurong Bird Park will be the only public zoological institution in the world where guests can view the complete blue macaw family. The Glaucous macaw—the last member of the blue macaw family—has not been sighted since the 1960s and is believed to be extinct.

The Ambassador of the Federative Republic of Brazil, His Excellency Flávio Soares Damico, said: “In 2017, we celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations between Brazil and Singapore and we are very proud of the strong bilateral ties uniting us. Bringing both countries even closer together, we are happy to be part of the effort to introduce two birds native to Brazil to Jurong Bird Park—the Spix’s and Lear’s macaws. We look forward to the continuation of this initiative that will allow for the re-introduction of the two species in their natural habitat. This will be an important mark of this golden jubilee. Singapore has every reason to be proud of Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s commitment towards the protection and conservation of biodiversity. The macaws are in very good and able hands. I am sure that the public will enjoy this very welcome addition to the park.”

The critically endangered Spix’s macaw, also known as the little blue macaw, is believed to be extinct in the wild and there are just over 100 individuals left under human care worldwide. It is the same little blue macaw which inspired the Rio movie series.

Accompanying the Spix’s macaws will be the endangered Lear’s macaws, another member of the blue macaw family. Jurong Bird Park will welcome two Spix’s macaws and four Lear’s macaws.

In July 2016, Jurong Bird Park signed a Memorandum of Agreement together with partners—the Ministry of the Environment of Brazil, the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation, the Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation, the Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots, Parrots International and Fazenda Cachoeira—committing to provide funding and direct support to help establish a viable population of Spix’s macaws under human care, and ultimately to reintroduce this species into the wild.

Mr Mike Barclay, Group CEO, Mandai Park Holdings, said: “The Spix’s and Lear’s macaws are excellent emblems of our commitment to do our part to protect and conserve global biodiversity. We are honoured to be a partner in this effort to bring the Spix’s macaw species back from the brink of extinction, with the eventual hope to reintroducing them to the wild. We are also deeply humbled by the confidence placed in us to care for these precious birds.”

The Spix’s macaw is listed as critically endangered—believed to be extinct in the wild—with the Lear’s macaw classified as endangered, due to the illegal bird trade and habitat loss. Visitors can look forward to visiting the blue macaw exhibit from end November onwards.

RIVER SAFARI’S GIANT PANDAS KAI KAI AND JIA JIA DRAW CLOSER TO 72 HOURS OF LOVE

This will be the pair’s third attempt at natural mating; Visitors will not be able to see giant pandas for three days during the mating season.

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ABOVE: Jia Jia takes an interest in Kai Kai (foreground). With the arrival of the giant panda mating season, visitors to River Safari’s Giant Panda Forest can expect to see Kai Kai and Jia Jia displaying courtship behaviour. PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE, 27 March 2017 – Ahead of the annual giant panda mating season—which typically occurs from March to May—veterinarians have given both River Safari’s giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia a clean bill of health during their annual check-up last month. The annual health check included x-rays of Jia Jia’s abdomen, collection of urine samples and a dental and eye check.

This will be the giant pandas’ third attempt at natural mating, and visitors at the park may observe some intriguing courtship behaviour from the pair from now till May. As early as February, Kai Kai and Jia Jia have shown early signs that the mating season was coming soon.

Ten-year-old Kai Kai and nine-year-old Jia Jia entered mating season for the first time in 2015 but both natural mating and artificial insemination had been unsuccessful. For the coming mating season, keepers have fine-tuned techniques to stimulate their mating instincts.

Kai Kai and Jia Jia’s exhibits were first swapped in November last year, two months earlier compared to previous mating seasons, when exhibits were usually swapped in January. This helps to encourage hormonal changes when smelling the scent of the opposite gender.

As withprevious mating seasons, keepers continued to vary daylight hours and temperature at River Safari’s Giant Panda Forest. This simulates the seasonal transition from winter to spring in their homeland in Sichuan, China, triggering the breeding cycle of the pair—the first of their kind to live so close to the equator.

Vets and keepers are carefully observing the behaviour of the two pandas as well as monitoring Jia Jia’s hormonal levels. Once Jia Jia’s oestrogen level drops, the giant pandas will be taken out of their respective exhibits for three days to allow natural mating in the dens. During these three days, visitors to River Safari will not be able to see Kai Kai and Jia Jia in the Giant Panda Forest.

Vets have also collected Kai Kai’s semen via electro-ejaculation for artificial insemination to increase the chances of breeding the pandas should natural mating be unsuccessful.

Jia Jia looking for Kai Kai on the other side of the crossing gate

LEFT: Jia Jia looking out for Kai Kai on the other side of the crossing gate. Female giant pandas only have a window of 24 to 36 hours to get pregnant, which makes reproduction for this black-and-white icon very difficult.

 

 

Male giant panda Kai Kai puts on a show for Jia Jia while she munches on bamboo

LEFT: Kai Kai putting on a show for Jia Jia, who sits munching bamboo. The cover of the crossing gate—which separates the pandas’ exhibits and is normally closed—was removed to allow them to steal peeks at each other and pique their interest ahead of mating season.

 

Jia Jia undergoing an eye check by veterinary opthalmologist Dr Rui Oliveira

LEFT: Jia Jia undergoing an eye check by veterinary ophthalmologist Dr Rui Oliveira, while Dr Abraham Mathew, senior veterinarian, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, looks on.

 

 

WORLD’S RAREST TORTOISES RACE AGAINST EXTINCTION AT SINGAPORE ZOO’S NEW TORTOISE SHELL-TER

New exhibit a naturalistic sanctuary for the tortoises to display natural behaviour and breed;
Zoo celebrates World Turtle Day with special Keeper Talks for guests

Image 1: Great care was taken in designing Singapore Zoo’s Tortoise Shell-ter, now home to some of the world’s most threatened tortoises such as the critically endangered Ploughshare Tortoise (pictured above).Only 200 mature specimens are left in the wild, and survive in a 12 square km patch in Madagascar. Their decline in recent years is a result of poaching for the illegal pet trade. The species is at extreme risk of extinction in the wild within 10-15 years. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE
Image 2: Singapore Zoo has been successful in the conservation breeding and maintenance of an assurance colony of Southern River Terrapins (pictured above). More than 50 terrapins have been bred since 2007. Assurance colonies refer to the safeguarding of an endangered species under human care, in case the wild population is wiped out. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Singapore, 20 May 2016 – Boosting Singapore Zoo’s efforts to save the world’s most threatened vertebrates from extinction is its newest exhibit—Tortoise Shell-ter. Guests at the park can now look forward to learning more about some of the world’s rarest tortoises and ongoing efforts to increase their dwindling numbers.

Tortoise Shell-ter showcases three critically endangered tortoise species—the Ploughshare Tortoise, Radiated Tortoise and Burmese Star Tortoise—making it one of Singapore Zoo’s exhibits with greater conservation and educational values. Other threatened species at the new attraction include the Elongated Tortoise and the Yellow-footed Tortoise. The naturalistic exhibits feature rock walls, habitat specific planting, and climate-controlled micro-habitats, including special lighting, heating with temperature gradient and humidity control, to create the ideal home away from home for these delicate species to thrive.

Some of these tortoises share their homes with other compatible reptiles, such as the Rock Monitor, Black and White Tegu, Green Iguana and Veiled Chameleon. This provides inter-species interaction, which is a great form of enrichment for the inhabitants, as well as providing a more interesting viewing experience to the guests.
In addition to featuring threatened species, Tortoise Shell-ter is also a sanctuary for some former-victims of the illegal wildlife trade, which have been confiscated and sent to Singapore Zoo, such as the Indian Star Tortoise.

In the wild, these land-dwelling reptiles’ shells (called carapaces) shield them against predators but they are no match for the combination of habitat loss and human exploitation, including unsustainable consumption and poaching for the illegal pet trade.
Aside from showcasing these chelonians at the Tortoise Shell-ter, Singapore Zoo also contributes to safeguarding the future of other threatened species of turtles through conservation breeding and the maintenance of assurance colonies. The latter refers to the safekeeping of endangered species populations under human care in case something happens to the already diminished numbers in the wild. Singapore Zoo has a good track record of breeding threatened chelonian species, both terrestrial (tortoises) and aquatic (turtles and terrapins) and has recently had the first hatching for the critically endangered Painted Terrapin. Other threatened species bred at the Zoo include the endangered Elongated Tortoise and Burmese Mountain Tortoise and the critically endangered Southern River Terrapin.

The park’s breeding programmes offer the possibility of reintroducing the animals to the wild whenever their safety can be ensured in their natural habitat. In addition, Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) actively supports on-site and off-site breeding and reintroduction programmes in a few Southeast Asian countries. It also collaborates with trade monitoring organisations to raise awareness on illegal wildlife trade of tortoises.

Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Life Sciences Officer, WRS, said: “Within the span of just one human generation, many turtle and tortoise species have been decimated to near extinction through our activities. We are working in the zoo as well as in their native habitats to prevent these ancient creatures from disappearing from earth altogether. Through the Tortoise Shell-ter we would like to highlight their plights to our guests and to engage them to join us in our effort to save the species.”

World Turtle Day, observed every 23 May, aims to celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises, and their disappearing habitats around the world. To commemorate World Turtle Day this year, Singapore Zoo has lined up three special Keeper Talks for guests to find out more about these rare tortoises and their plight in the wild. Visitors will get to see the wild residents participating in a host of enrichment activities, and get up close and personal with the Indian star tortoise, the most confiscated tortoise in Singapore.

WRS PARKS BECOME EVEN MORE ACCESSIBLE WITH IMPROVED MEMBERSHIP PROGRAMME AND NEW BUS ROUTE

New four park-in-one membership package promises greater savings for individuals and families;
Launch of trial bus service running from heartlands improves accessibility to wildlife parks in Mandai

SINGAPORE, 18 May 2016 – Wildlife enthusiasts can now spend unlimited time appreciating Mother Nature at all four Wildlife Reserves Singapore parks year round, with the introduction of a four-park-in-one membership that allows easy access to the popular attractions.

From as little as $119 to join WRS as a member, guests can visit all four attractions—Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari, River Safari and Singapore Zoo—countless times throughout the year. Members also benefit from a slew of incentives, such as weekday tram rides, retail and F&B discounts, and savings on parking fees. As a bonus, members who are senior citizens enjoy unlimited tram rides to make it more convenient for them to explore the parks.

Single park memberships have also been significantly reduced. Memberships start from $39 for Friends of Bird Park or River Safari, and $79 for Friends of Night Safari or Singapore Zoo. Family memberships feature more flexibility, and can include two adults and up to five children between 3-12 years old.

membership price

Detailed information at http://members.wrs.com.sg/

Ms Sherri Lim, Chief Park Operations and Revenue Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said, “Singapore has some of the best wildlife parks in the region. We hope to encourage more guests to make repeat visits by providing annual memberships that offer good value for single- or multi-park visits. Aside from being an excellent way for friends and families to bond over the natural world, we hope such visits will serve to further inspire them to value and conserve biodiversity.”

Further to the new annual membership programme, members and the public alike will have more reason to visit the wildlife parks with the launch of a trial direct bus service from the heartlands to Mandai.

From 28 May to 25 September 2016, Heartland Express—a trial direct bus service to Mandai—will be offered every weekend and selected public holidays, from Tampines (via Bedok) and Sengkang to Mandai. The decision was made in response to requests from the public to offer direct services from locations less well served by public transport.

heartland bus table
Table 1: Travel time and cost from North-East and East Singapore to Mandai wildlife parks Source for public buses and taxi information: Vertix Survey on Transportation Behaviour

The new Heartland Express bus service offers a vast reduction in travel time, with each trip lasting between 20 to 50 minutes. Operating from Tampines (via Bedok) and Sengkang, Heartland Express provides three trips each weekend and selected public holidays at 9am, 10am and 11am to the Wildlife Reserves Singapore parks located in Mandai. There will also be three trips back to the heartlands at 3pm/3.10pm, 4pm/4.10pm and 5pm/5.10pm. Each trip is fixed at $3, with children under 7 years travelling for free.

The Heartland Express bus service operated by Bus-Plus Services will undergo a four-month trial period, ending on 25 September, before a review is conducted to determine long term feasibility of the service. To ensure guests are guaranteed seats, tickets need to be pre-booked online, from 26 May onwards. Further details are available at zoo.com.sg/heartlandexpress

“Transport is a key consideration for our guests as they plan their day out to Mandai. We hope to improve this touchpoint with Heartland Express to enhance guest experience, and provide a fast, convenient, and smooth commute for people coming to Mandai, especially River Safari and Singapore Zoo, from the heartlands,” continued Ms Lim.