CELEBRATING EARTH DAY WITH A PENGUIN PLAY DATE AT JURONG BIRD PARK

Themed ‘Don’t Dump It, Aquatic Creatures Deserve A Clean Home’, primary school children and youths lead the charge to spread penguin conservation messages at the park.

Singapore, 20 April 2013 – With Earth Day and World Penguin Day falling just three days apart, Earth Day at Jurong Bird Park is particularly meaningful for a group of children and youths who have become conservation ambassadors with a determined focus on spreading the message of “Don’t Dump It, Aquatic Creatures Deserve A Clean Home”, aimed at protecting penguins and other marine creatures.

Coming together for ‘A Penguin Play Date’, students from Greenridge Primary School (GRPS) and youth volunteers created two gigantic penguin art pieces made of recycled materials at Jurong Bird Park. These art pieces take the form of a 3-metre tall 2D silhouette, and a sliding penguin sculpture. In addition, 12 primary school children between the ages of 9-11 manned craft stations in the park to teach park visitors what they know about penguins and how to protect these birds by minimising waste.

GRPS students took a month to collect about 600 recycled bottles for the play date. The recycled bottles are in both art pieces. The penguin silhouette shows how something as innocuous as a kids’ beverage bottle can go a long way in creating an artistic statement for the species. The other art piece, a 1-metre tall papier-mâché sliding penguin depicts the bird sliding freely on ice, is a sight often seen in the Antarctic region.

“Penguins are very cute, and I’m sad that they can die when people throw plastics into the sea without thinking of the other creatures which live there. We hope people will help to protect the penguins,” said Angel Chua, Primary 6 student, Greenridge Primary School.

Inviting the public – particularly young children – to join their play date, the students set up craft stations to teach visitors how to make a simple penguin craft out of recyclable toilet rolls, which participants could bring home. Students completed each roll with a conservation message about penguins.

To equip these youth conservation ambassadors with knowledge about these charismatic birds, a highly interactive Penguins and Pals workshop was organised on 13 March. At this session, they learnt more about different penguin species, their diet, how they adapt to temperate climates and how penguins seem to ‘fly’ in the water. These students also visited two of the world’s five endangered penguin species that live in Jurong Bird Park – the African penguin and the Humboldt penguin. To inspire more students in GRPS about conservation and ensuring a clean home for penguins and other marine creatures, the students involved in the Earth Day project with Bird Park will share their experiences school-wide during a school assembly talk.

May Lok, Director, Education, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said, “To interest and inspire youths about wildlife, we work very closely with schools and over the last five years, more than 85,000 students have gone through workshops such as Penguin and Pals. A Penguin Play Date is the perfect example of how students, when empowered with the right knowledge and skills, can lead the charge to drive conservation messages to their peers and families, and encourage them to think of ways to protect the homes penguins and marine creatures. These youths are the most ideal conservation ambassadors.”

Jurong Bird Park has successfully bred the African and king penguins. Three endangered African penguin chicks have successfully hatched since December 2010, with the latest hatching on 14 March 2013. This chick is the first in Jurong Bird Park to have undergone successful artificial incubation at the Breeding & Research Centre (BRC). Five king penguin chicks have hatched since 2008, and the Park is the first institution in South East Asia to successfully breed this species in captivity.

Visitors will be able to view both the papier-mâché sculpture and the 2D silhouette for a month from 20 April at Penguin Coast.

For more information on Jurong Bird Park, please visit www.birdpark.com.sg

With Earth Day and World Penguin Day falling just three days apart, Earth Day at Jurong Bird Park is particularly meaningful for a group of children and youths who have become conservation ambassadors with a determined focus on spreading the message of “Don’t Dump It, Aquatic Creatures Deserve A Clean Home”, aimed at protecting penguins and other marine creatures.
With Earth Day and World Penguin Day falling just three days apart, Earth Day at Jurong Bird Park is particularly meaningful for a group of children and youths who have become conservation ambassadors with a determined focus on spreading the message of “Don’t Dump It, Aquatic Creatures Deserve A Clean Home”, aimed at protecting penguins and other marine creatures.
Inviting the public – particularly young children – to join their play date, the students set up craft stations to teach visitors how to make a simple penguin craft out of recyclable toilet rolls, which participants could bring home.
Inviting the public – particularly young children – to join their play date, the students set up craft stations to teach visitors how to make a simple penguin craft out of recyclable toilet rolls, which participants could bring home.
Jurong Bird Park has successfully bred the African and king penguins. Three endangered African penguin chicks have successfully hatched since December 2010, with the latest hatching on 14 March 2013.
Jurong Bird Park has successfully bred the African and king penguins. Three endangered African penguin chicks have successfully hatched since December 2010, with the latest hatching on 14 March 2013.

JURONG BIRD PARK ACHIEVES ANOTHER FIRST WITH SUCCESSFUL ARTIFICIAL INCUBATION OF GREAT PIED HORNBILLS

Singapore, 30 May 2011Jurong Bird Park, the world’s largest avian paradise, has scored a first yet again with the successful artificial incubation of two great pied hornbills, one of the most notoriously difficult species to breed in captivity. Eggs were carefully removed from the hornbills’ nest box this breeding season and incubated at the park’s Breeding and Research Centre (BRC). This was necessary as the breeding pair had cannibalised the chicks the previous year.

“While such cannibalisation behaviours are natural and common in hornbills, it differs from species to species. With the oriental pied hornbills, it is the survival of the fittest where the weakest hatchling is usually killed and eaten by the female,” said Dr Minerva Bongco-Nuqui, Curator, Jurong Bird Park.

To avoid a similar situation, avian keepers kept a close watch on the nesting pair, and quickly extracted their eggs the second week after laying. “Hornbills are generally very selective and monogamous when it comes to mating and take a while to breed as they would require a long time to bond. Conservation and captive breeding are crucial for great pied hornbills since they are losing their natural habitat because of rapid urbanisation and human activities,” she added.

Due to the size of this magnificent bird and its special nesting requirements, captive breeding is especially difficult as tree cavities need to be big enough. Hornbills have unique breeding characteristics as the female seals herself in the nest, leaving a tiny slit through which her male counterpart feeds her foraged or hunted food. She would remain sealed in the nest for up to three months, when her chicks are ready to fledge and leave the nest.

The pair has been together for over 10 years, and had their first offspring in 2006. Their two new chicks hatched in the BRC on April 14 and 20 respectively, and have been under the care of Mr Elden Gabayoyo, the Avian Management Officer in charge of the Centre.

“As these hatchlings were artificially incubated, we were very careful about their diet,” he noted. “In the first few days, they were fed with mice pinkies, papaya, vitamin supplements and Pedialyte for hydration. When they grow older, they will eat mealworms, crickets and fruit such as papaya and banana, and will eventually be moved to the exhibit when they can feed on their own.”

This is the first time the Jurong Bird Park has artificially incubated a hornbill species. The latest offspring brings the total number of great pied hornbills at the park to 17. They are one of the largest members of the hornbill family, and can live up to 50 years in captivity. They are found in the forests of India, the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra. Admired for their size and bright colours, they are prized for their body parts, e.g. beaks and heads are used as charms and souvenirs, feathers used in head dresses and flesh as medicine; hence the urgent need for greater conservation efforts for this and other hornbill species.