HAND-RAISED BABY MANATEE CANOLA WINS HEARTS AT RIVER SAFARI

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

WHITE TIGER OMAR UNDERGOES BLOOD TEST

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.

Rise and Shine with Kai Kai & Jia Jia at Panda Party Week 2014

River Safari launches new behind-the-scenes experience
with exclusive opportunity to visit giant pandas at their den

Participants preparing Kai Kai & Jia Jia’s bamboo breakfast in River Safari’s new Panda Rise and Shine programme which will be launched during Panda Party week. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE.
Participants preparing Kai Kai & Jia Jia’s bamboo breakfast in River Safari’s new Panda Rise and Shine programme which will be launched during Panda Party week.
PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE.

Singapore, 27 August 2014 – Go behind-the-scenes with giant panda keepers for an exclusive opportunity to visit Kai Kai & Jia Jia at their dens with Panda Rise & Shine, a programme launched in celebration of River Safari’s Panda Party which commemorates the pandas’ birthdays and second year in Singapore.

During this learning journey, participants get to enter the park before it opens for some quality time with Kai Kai & Jia Jia. They will observe keepers serving the bears their pre-breakfast snack and the morning routine of physical checks, weighing and target training.

This premium programme is the first of its kind in River Safari that brings participants to the Giant Panda Forest back-of-house areas such as the pandas’ dens, kitchen and bamboo storage room. Participants of Panda Rise & Shine will assist keepers in preparing Kai Kai & Jia Jia’s bamboo breakfast and create enrichment toys for the furry duo. Through a personalised guided tour, participants will gain deeper insights into the bears, their diet and home in River Safari.

River Safari’s new Panda Rise and Shine programme, which will be launched during Panda Party week, provides participants with up-close encounters with Kai Kai & Jia Jia, including moments when they undergo target training with their keepers. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE.
River Safari’s new Panda Rise and Shine programme, which will be launched during Panda Party week, provides participants with up-close encounters with Kai Kai & Jia Jia, including moments when they undergo target training with their keepers.
PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE.

Ms Lok May Kuen, Director, Education, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said: “As part of the upcoming Panda Party week that celebrates Kai Kai & Jia Jia’s birthdays and second anniversary in Singapore, we introduce Panda Rise & Shine, a new programme that offers an up-close encounter with the pandas. This programme allows participants to witness the special bond between keepers and pandas, as well as an opportunity to understand how we take care of this endangered species. We hope that participants will leave with a greater appreciation not just for giant pandas but all threatened wildlife. ”

The learning journey concludes with breakfast at Mama Panda Kitchen. In addition to an exclusive t-shirt and goodie bag, participants will get to bring home professionally taken photos to remember the special experience.

The Panda Rise & Shine programme is available at S$350, inclusive of River Safari admission*. This exclusive experience can accommodate a maximum of 6 people, and is suitable for participants aged 7 years and above. Participants below 13 years of age must be accompanied by a paying adult. More information can be found online at http://education.riversafari.com.sg/behindTheScenesTours.html.

The new behind-the-scenes experience is part of the activities visitors can look forward to at River Safari’s Panda Party, which aims to increase public awareness on the plight of giant pandas and the efforts to save them. Wildlife Reserves Singapore works closely with global experts in the area of conservation and research of giant pandas in China.

*Admission does not include boat rides in the park.

LIGHT THE WAY FOR GIANT PANDAS WITH RIVER SAFARI THIS SEPTEMBER

Panda Party aims to increase conservation awareness through week-long interactive programmes and a new behind-the scenes tour

pandaparty

Singapore, 14 August 2014 – Plant pledges and ‘grow’ a bamboo forest for pandas, sign up for a new behind-the-scenes experience, read about Kai Kai and Jia Jia’s adventures in Singapore, and be part of a Panda Lantern Parade – these are some of the activities visitors can look forward to at River Safari’s Panda Party, which aims to increase public awareness on the plight of giant pandas and the efforts to save them.

Panda Party 2014 marks the second anniversary of giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia in Singapore, and celebrates Jia Jia turning six on 3 September and Kai Kai turning seven on 14 September. This year’s theme “Light The Way” highlights the threats that pandas face and encourages individuals to take actions to ensure a brighter future for this iconic animal.

Ms Claire Chiang, Chairman, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said, “As ambassadors of one of the world’s most endangered species, giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia have brought joy to many visitors in the last two years. We hope the love for pandas can be transformed into initiatives to protect the species, and help light the way for their future. The Panda Party is an excellent occasion to invite the public to celebrate with a cause and be inspired to protect not just pandas, but threatened wildlife all around the world.”

Aside from the one million visitors who come to River Safari annually, the park aims to spread conservation messages beyond its gates. This year, giant panda mascots will be making special appearances at two CapitaMalls to spread the festive cheer and collect conservation pledges to spur the public into action.

To kickstart the festivities during the Panda Party week, River Safari will organise a private birthday bash for Kai Kai and Jia Jia on 5 September. This occasion will also mark the launch of a new children’s book that tells the adventures of the two pandas in Singapore. In addition to invited guests, 50 lucky members of the public will be able to partake in this event which includes a Panda Lantern Parade to shine lanterns of hope for the future of giant pandas.

During the Panda Party week from 6 to 14 September, visitors to River Safari can expect a line-up of festivities from free guided tours at the Giant Panda Forest to interactive show & tell sessions where they will get the opportunity to feel a panda skull replica and get a whiff of panda poop. Visitors can also plant pledges to help symbolically ‘grow’ a lush bamboo forest for the bears. Kids can enjoy panda art and craft, from face painting to clay modelling activities.

To commemorate this year’s Panda Party, River Safari will launch a new behind-the-scenes tour where participants can get up-close with pandas before the park opens and assist keepers in preparing breakfast for Kai Kai and Jia Jia. This premium experience brings participants to back-of-house areas such as the pandas’ dens, kitchen and bamboo storage room.

As part of the festivities during the Panda Party week, visitors can bring home a free panda lantern with purchases at River Safari’s retail and F&B outlets. In addition to this birthday treat, visitors can look forward to new panda-licious treats such as Panda Chocolate Mousse and wild discounts on panda merchandise.

1. Pandamonium at CapitaMalls (August)
Bask in the pre-party atmosphere this August as pandamonium hits selected CapitaMalls managed by CapitaMalls Asia, CapitaLand’s shopping mall business. CapitaLand is the Presenting Sponsor and Conservation Donor of the Giant Panda Collaborative Programme. Panda mascots Kai Kai and Jia Jia will be making public appearances to surprise panda fans with lots of birthday treats, including a chance to win instant tickets to the Panda Party in a lucky draw and a contest for the best-dressed panda outfit. Members of the public are invited to make conservation pledges, from conserving fuel by taking public transport to refraining from using products that may endanger animals. Shoppers can also take home free panda masks* and partake in a Panda Parade!

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*While stocks last

2. Exclusive Panda Party Launch Event (5 September)
Light up with us as we launch Panda Party week with an evening of exclusive celebration at River Safari. 50 lucky visitors will get to share a special moment with our VIPs (Very Important Pandas) with giant birthday cakes and exciting performances. The highlight of the evening is a festive Panda Lantern Parade where visitors will shine lanterns of hope for the future of giant pandas.

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3. Panda Party Week at River Safari (6-14 September)

All About Pandas

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All New Panda-Themed Bites

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Wild Discounts on Panda Merchandise

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For more information, visit pandas.riversafari.com.sg 

RIVER SAFARI LAUNCHES INAUGURAL BEHIND-THE-SCENES TOURS FOR VISITORS

– Two exclusive programmes launched in June to take visitors on learning journeys.

Singapore, 14 May 2014 – For the first time, visitors can have a glimpse of the inner workings of River Safari with the launch of two new behind-the-scenes programmes. Titled Fishy Business and Be a Panda Researcher, these programmes are packed with hands-on experiences that present a unique perspective on Asia’s first and only river-themed wildlife park and its animal residents.

Participants exploring behind-the-scenes for a first-hand look at the life support system of the world’s largest freshwater aquarium at River Safari. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE.
Participants exploring behind-the-scenes for a first-hand look at the life support system of the world’s largest freshwater aquarium at River Safari. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE.

Panda fans can learn more about the park’s famous residents, giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia, as well as their wild cousins in Be a Panda Researcher. Through a series of investigative tasks at various activity stations, participants will get down and dirty to ‘dissect’ panda poo and appreciate the hard work that goes into meeting Kai Kai and Jia Jia’s special dietary needs. By examining paw prints and other markings, they will also gain insights into how researchers track pandas in the wild and implement conservation measures to save these endangered bears from extinction.

Participants preparing food for the park’s aquatic residents as part of the Fishy Business programme, one of the two inaugural behind-the-scenes tours launched at River Safari. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE.
Participants preparing food for the park’s aquatic residents as part of the Fishy Business programme, one of the two inaugural behind-the-scenes tours launched at River Safari. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE.

Those game for some Fishy Business can venture deep into the underbelly of the Amazon Flooded Forest exhibit and discover what the aquarists do to keep the animal residents in the pink of health. Participants will explore the massive life support system of the world’s largest freshwater aquarium, conduct water tests and prepare food and enrichment for river giants such as the manatees and arapaimas. The finale to the programme is a visual spectacle of the silver arowana, also known as the water monkey, leaping out of the water to strike at its prey during special feeding sessions.

Ms May Lok, Director, Education, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said: “Many a times visitors are curious about our work, and our team is also eager to share the passion and joy in the day-to-day care for our 6000 animals. Be a Panda Researcher and Fishy Business are the first behind-the-scenes tours in River Safari we have curated for the public. We hope visitors who participate in these programmes will walk away with a deeper understanding on the park and its animal residents, and a greater appreciation of freshwater ecosystems.”

Be a Panda Researcher and Fishy Business programmes are each available at S$39 for adults and S$29 for children, inclusive of River Safari admission*. Be a Panda Researcher can accommodate a maximum of 60 people while Fishy Business can accommodate a maximum of 30. Both tours are recommended for children 9 years and above. Reservations can be made online at http://education.riversafari.com.sg/whatshap.html. The two programmes are launched in commemoration of 50 years of tourism development and promotions in Singapore.

*Admission does not include Amazon River Quest boat ride.

EGGS AND CHICKS EGGS-PERTLY PAMPERED AT JURONG BIRD PARK

BREEDING AND RESEARCH CENTRE MAKES PUBLIC DEBUT

Scarlet macaw hatchling in a temperature and humidity-monitored brooder (left) and a five day old greater flamingo being fed at the Breeding and Research Centre. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Singapore, 14 May 2012 – The Breeding and Research Centre (BRC) at Jurong Bird Park is where life begins for some of the Park’s resident birds. The moment eggs arrive at the BRC up to the time chicks hatch and are weaned, they receive eggs-pert tender loving care and literally, pampering, from the Centre’s officers.

This is also the first time in 24 years that the Centre is open for walk-in public viewing. Previously, the BRC was only accessible via organised tours through the Education or Operations teams.

“By showcasing to guests what goes on behind-the-scenes at the BRC, we hope to inculcate in them a deeper appreciation of avian wildlife, and for guests to have a better understanding of our conservation efforts. We are very proud of the successes the BRC has had. We have bred some critically endangered species like the Bali starling and blue- throated macaw and other very significant species such as the black palm cockatoo, hyacinth macaw, red-fronted macaw and the red-tailed black cockatoo, all of which certainly enhance the off-site conservation population of these magnificent birds,” said Mr Raja Segran, General Manager, Jurong Bird Park.

Two incubation rooms, two nursery rooms, three weaning rooms, one each for parrots, aquatic birds and other species, and a kitchen are the eight areas through which guests can take a peek at the eggs and chicks as they mature through life’s stages.

Each of the incubation rooms contain three incubators. At maximum capacity, each room can accomodate up to 180 eggs, each awaiting their turn to hatch. The nursery rooms are where the chicks go immediately after hatching. Chicks are placed in temperature and humidity-controlled brooders, and this is where guests can see how these absurdly cute little helpless juveniles are fed.

When they are fully grown, chicks are transferred to the weaning room, where they are placed in cages to allow them to acclimatise to the area and each other. Here, they are taken care of until they are mature to join the rest of their family in the respective exhibits. The duckery and pheasant room, as their names suggest, are areas where water birds’ young and soft-billed young are placed until they are moved to the rest of the Park.

Guests to the BRC also get a chance to watch live streaming of avian nest activities at the breeding blocks, which are not publicly accessible. The Breeding and Research Centre opens to the public from 19 May, between 8.30am – 6pm daily. There is no additional charge to visit the Centre, but normal Park admission charges apply (Adult: $18 / Child: $12).