SINGAPORE ZOO RECEIVES BOOST TO ALDABRA GIANT TORTOISE CONSERVATION BREEDING PLAN

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Tortoises a precious gift from Mauritius to Singapore to mark
new air corridor between the two countries

Images 1 and 2: Casela (left) and Coco (right), two Aldabra giant tortoises, are a valuable addition to the Singapore Zoo’s living collection, and will boost the park’s breeding programme to increase the species’ captive numbers. The pair was presented as a gift from Mauritius to Singapore, to mark the new air corridor that opened between the two republic states late last year.
PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Singapore, 17 March 2016Singapore Zoo is looking forward to making headway on its conservation breeding programme for Aldabra giant tortoises with the addition of two valuable specimens on 12 March 2016. The female tortoises were a gift from Mauritius to Singapore to mark the new air corridor that opened between the two republic states late last year.

Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam received a painting of the Aldabra giant tortoises from Mauritius Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism and External Communications Charles Gaëtan Xavier-Luc Duval to mark the occasion.

Originating from Casela World of Adventures in Mauritius, the tortoises, named Casela and Coco, are currently housed in Singapore Zoo’s quarantine facility where they will remain for a month. They will then be moved to the Aldabra giant tortoise exhibit permanently to join their fellow species, and prepare for future breeding opportunities.

Casela was named after Casela World of Adventures, while Coco draws her name from coconuts, a prominent feature of Mauritian beaches.

Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Chief Life Sciences Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said: “Aldabra giant tortoises are among the longest-lived animals on the planet, individuals can live to well over 100 years but sadly the species is threatened with extinction in the wild. We warmly welcome the addition of Casela and Coco to our existing herd of six giant tortoises as they will be a great boost to our breeding programme for this charismatic gentle giants.”

Aldabra giant tortoises are listed as vulnerable under the IUCN* Red List of Threatened Species. These giants are characterised by a thick dome-shaped carapace and feed on vegetables. One of the largest giant tortoise species in the world, a fully-grown specimen can weigh up to 250kg. The two newly-arrived ladies weigh approximately 110kg each.

The Aldabra giant tortoise, which originates from the island of Seychelles, is the only remnant of some 18 species of tortoises that once thrived in the Indian Ocean region. They were introduced to Mauritius after a recommendation from eminent naturalist Charles Darwin in the late 19th century.

* IUCN stands for International Union for Conservation of Nature

Images 1 and 2: Casela (left) and Coco (right), two Aldabra giant tortoises, are a valuable addition to the Singapore Zoo’s living collection, and will boost the park’s breeding programme to increase the species’ captive numbers. The pair was presented as a gift from Mauritius to Singapore, to mark the new air corridor that opened between the two republic states late last year.
PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE ZOO VET HELPS KING COBRA SHED ITS SKIN

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Dr Abraham Mathew, senior vet at Singapore Zoo and Night Safari, carefully removing the slough of a king cobra. The male cobra, which arrived at the Singapore Zoo three months ago, was under quarantine at the time and had problems removing its shed so the vets stepped in to assist. Snakes shed their skin to allow for growth, as well as to remove parasites along with their old skin. The king cobra is the world’s longest venomous snake, and can grow to a length of about 5 metres. Despite its size and reputation for ferocity, it is not aggressive and only attacks when startled, provoked or protecting its eggs. It is one of the few snakes that preys almost exclusively on other snakes.

Dr Abraham Mathew, senior vet at Singapore Zoo and Night Safari, carefully assists a male king cobra which had some trouble removing its shed. The snake had been under quarantine at the time, but has since been transferred to the Singapore Zoo’s Reptile Garden, where it is now on display. Visitors can also see Komodo dragons, Aldabra giant tortoises, rhino iguanas and false gharials at the Reptile Garden. King cobras are the only snakes known to build nests. Females guard the eggs until just before they hatch. Young king cobras are black with striking yellow lateral stripes.