JURONG BIRD PARK ACHIEVES A GLOBAL FIRST WITH THREE WILD ORIENTAL PIED HORNBILL EGGS SUCCESSFULLY INCUBATED

Number of wild Oriental Pied Hornbills in Singapore increase ten-fold since 2005 through joint conservation efforts.

3 Oriental pied hornbill eggs were rescued from Pulau Ubin and brought to Jurong Bird Park. All three chicks eat 11, eight and four days old respectively. This is the first time globally OPH eggs from the wild have been successfully artificially incubated.
3 Oriental pied hornbill eggs were rescued from Pulau Ubin and brought to Jurong Bird Park. All three chicks eat 11, eight and four days old respectively. This is the first time globally OPH eggs from the wild have been successfully artificially incubated.
3 Oriental pied hornbill eggs were rescued from Pulau Ubin and brought to Jurong Bird Park. Chicks at 24 days old, 20 days old and 16 days old. This is the first time globally OPH eggs from the wild have been successfully artificially incubated.
3 Oriental pied hornbill eggs were rescued from Pulau Ubin and brought to Jurong Bird Park. Chicks at 24 days old, 20 days old and 16 days old. This is the first time globally OPH eggs from the wild have been successfully artificially incubated.

Singapore, 08 March 2013 – In a global first, three Oriental Pied Hornbill eggs rescued from Pulau Ubin have been successfully incubated and hatched at Jurong Bird Park’s Breeding & Research Centre.

“This is the first time Oriental Pied Hornbills have been successfully artificially incubated, and it represents a big step in the conservation of these magnificent creatures native to Singapore and South East Asia,” said Dr Luis Carlos Neves, DVM, Assistant Director, Avian, Jurong Bird Park. “Oriental Pied Hornbills have very unique breeding behavior wherein the female seals herself into a tree cavity to lay eggs and raise the chicks. It is extremely challenging to artificially incubate these eggs, and it is rarely attempted. The fact that we have succeeded is good news for the global avian community as there is currently very limited data on these fascinating birds.”

The three rescued eggs had been abandoned by their mother. On 7 January, Rangers from National Parks Board (NParks) on Pulau Ubin found a nest with a broken seal, and after it was ascertained that the female hornbill had abandoned the nest, the eggs were sent to Jurong Bird Park where they were artificially incubated.

Jurong Bird Park welcomed the first hornbill chick hatchling on 25 January, weighing 22.6g. The second chick hatched 3 days later on 28 January, weighing 21.8g. The last chick hatched on 1 February, at 20g.

After the chicks hatched, they were fed six times a day, on a diet consisting of a mixture of fruit and dried insects. At a month old, they are fed thrice a day, but with an increase in fruit and commercial avian pellets.

Although listed as Least Concern on the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) red list, Oriental Pied Hornbills were not seen in Singapore for 140 years prior to 1994. The last sighting formally recorded was in 1855 by Alfred Russell Wallace. There were various inconclusive sightings over the following years. In 1994, a pair of wild hornbills was sighted on Pulau Ubin. Three years later, the first breeding record of hornbills was observed on Pulau Ubin. By 2005, there were about 10 individuals in the wild. That same year, a collaborative study between Jurong Bird Park, NParks and Singapore Avian Conservation Project was initiated with the intention to study the breeding and conservation of these birds.

With the knowledge gained from observing these birds in the Bird Park, artificial nest boxes were introduced to Pulau Ubin, which greatly increased the breeding of the Oriental Pied Hornbills. During the length of the five year project, Oriental Pied Hornbill numbers in the wild increased from around 10 individuals to 50 individuals. Today there are between 75 – 100 wild Oriental Pied Hornbills in Singapore.

“In addition to being able to marvel at these beautiful birds which are part of the Singaporean heritage, the significant increase in Oriental Pied Hornbill numbers in the wild means that Singapore has more natural fruit dispersers. These mid-sized birds regurgitate some fruit whole, while other fruit are dropped along the way before they are eaten. In this manner, the birds reach areas in Singapore which are untouched and even unknown, helping to re-populate the island with fruit trees,” noted Dr Luis Carlos Neves.

Jurong Bird Park has one of the largest collections of hornbills globally, with 17 species represented. The Park has 16 Oriental Pied Hornbills, some of which can be seen at the Hornbills & Toucans exhibit. During breeding season which takes place from November to March, cameras will be installed in the Oriental Pied Hornbill exhibit, and visitors can catch a glimpse of nesting activities through television screens placed at the exhibit.

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

NINE IN 10 STARS OF NEWLY LAUNCHED HIGH FLYERS SHOW HATCHED AND RAISED IN JURONG BIRD PARK

Singapore, 2 January 2013 – The breeding programme at Jurong Bird Park has been such a success that at least 95% of all the birds in the new High Flyers Show are hatched and raised in the Park.

“We are very proud of our breeding successes and having no lack of ‘local’ talent in the new Show. We feel like proud parents when we see these birds which we have hand raised from young showcasing their abilities to our guests from all over the world, and in doing so, inculcate in them an appreciation of conservation and avian life,” said Mr Raja Segran, General Manager, Jurong Bird Park.

The first show in Jurong Bird Park began 30 years ago, and was helmed by birds like Big John and Sammy the cockatoos, Rod Stewart the Egyptian vulture and Harry the hornbill. At that time, 30% of the birds in the Show were home-grown, with the rest acquired via exchanges with other institutions. The establishment of the Breeding & Research Centre (BRC) six years after the first show greatly boosted the Park’s avian numbers. On average, more than 300 chicks annually have successfully hatched at the BRC over the past 24 years.

“Whenever possible, we leave the eggs to the parents to incubate and raise, but in certain instances where the parent had a history of breaking their own eggs, or are young parents, is when we step in and bring the eggs to the BRC for hand-rearing. Eventually, some of these birds are used in the Show.” continued Mr Raja Segran.

Three birds from the Show did not hatch in Bird Park, but one of them came to be part of the Show through an interesting twist of events. When the BRC underwent renovation in 2011, workers found three barn owls residing in the darkest corner of the roof of the BRC. They hatched under the BRC’s roof, and their parents took off during the construction period. Keepers took the barn owl chicks under their wing and cared for them until they were ready to fledge. One of the chicks is affectionately named Mystic, and it will show off its prowess as a silent hunter of the night as it swoops to bring down a prey. The other two birds which did not hatch in Bird Park are Amigo and Quincy, both yellow-naped Amazons which are renowned for their ability at mimicry.

Be sure to make a date with ‘local’ talent of the feathered variety at the High Flyers show which happens twice daily, at 11.00am and 3.00pm at the Pools Amphitheatre in Jurong Bird Park. Normal admission applies to Jurong Bird Park (Adults $20; Child $13), but there is no fee required to watch the High Flyers Show.

Mystic, the barn owl which became part of the High Flyers Show after it was found abandoned in the Breeding & Research Centre’s roof
Mystic, the barn owl which became part of the High Flyers Show after it was found abandoned
in the Breeding & Research Centre’s roof
High Flyers Show’s finale, with more than 100 birds on stage.
High Flyers Show’s finale, with more than 100 birds on stage.

RARE BLUE AND BLACK PARROT BEAUTIES MAKE THEIR DEBUT AND CALL JURONG BIRD PARK HOME

Blue-throated macaw hatchling. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Singapore, 21 May 2012 – Two critically endangered blue-throated macaws, three red-tailed black cockatoos and four endangered hyacinth macaws have hatched at the Jurong Bird Park’s Breeding & Research Centre (BRC). These nine breeding successes, ages ranging from three to nine months, are part of the Bird Park’s carefully managed breeding programme.

The blue-throated macaw siblings are the first ever hatchlings of this species at the Park. They hatched on 17 and 23 December last year after an incubation period of 26 days at the BRC, which is a dedicated area to ensure the welfare, breeding and promulgation of birdlife. Weighing in at 14 g and 15 g at hatching, blue-throated macaws are difficult to breed in captivity, as compatibility is an important requirement for them with regards to the environment and their breeding partner.

It took seven years of persistent research by the avicultural team at the BRC and the Avian Hospital before two fertile eggs were laid, and even more care went into ensuring that the chicks had a diet optimised for their species and their growth. When they hatched, they were fed with baby formula and were gradually introduced to a diet of various fruit such as apples, pears, papayas, and bananas, nuts such as walnuts, macadamia nuts and sunflower seeds at three months.

Although listed as Least Concern on the IUCN, the red-tailed black cockatoo is prohibited from export from Australia, making this species extremely rare in captivity. This is also the first time Jurong Bird Park has successfully bred them in captivity. The three siblings hatched in three different clutches last year, with one egg per clutch on 2 August, 9 September and 20 October.

Before fertile eggs could be laid, endoscopy was performed by the veterinarian to ensure that the breeding pair was healthy, and was ready for breeding. The BRC team also changed the nest for them by providing the birds with a log with a cavity, instead of a wooden nest box. The birds are now in the new Australian themed exhibit at Parrot Paradise, which houses seven cockatoo species endemic to Australia.

Hyacinth macaws were last bred in the Bird Park in May 2010. This breeding season, three clutches of four eggs produced four sibling chicks hatching between November 2011 and April 2012. Similarly with the red-tailed black cockatoo, endoscopy was also carried out prior to breeding. For the parents of these chicks, a veterinary check revealed that their fat intake needed to be increased to get the birds in prime breeding condition, so walnuts and macadamias were added to their diet during the breeding season.

“We are so thrilled to have a 100% success rate with the blue-throated macaw, red-tailed black cockatoo and the hyacinth macaw this breeding season. In particular, there are only about 100 – 150 blue throated macaws left in the wilds of north-central Bolivia, and we hope that they will be valuable additions to the global captive breeding population of blue-throated macaws,” noted Mr Raja Segran, General Manager, Jurong Bird Park.

ORCHARD’S 1.3M EGG-PIC MOMENT

Shoppers to Orchard Road today were greeted with an egg-pic photo opportunity from Jurong Bird Park – a 1.3m tall giant egg in hot pink sunglasses with feet and wings in a deck chair under a beach umbrella.

A roving exhibit for today and tomorrow, the giant egg being egg-cellently pampered getting a pedicure and feathers being groomed was showcased at the areas outside H&M, Mandarin Gallery, Takashimaya and Paragon from 2pm to 6pm. A traffic-stopping moment, many gawking shoppers whipped out their cameras and phones for photographs.

This is a tongue-in-chick look at how the Breeding & Research Centre (BRC) in Jurong Bird Park takes eggs-treme care of the many eggs and chicks under their charge. Today, the BRC opened its’ doors to guests, to instill a deeper appreciation of wildlife. There are eight areas (incubation rooms, nurseries, weaning rooms and a kitchen) through which guests can take a peek at the eggs and chicks as they mature through life’s stages. Guests also get a chance to watch a live streaming feed of avian nest activities at the Breeding Blocks which are not publicly accessible.

Heads up! Looking chic in town.
Queenly carried across Orchard Road, the eggs-pert pampering knows no bounds!
As busy Orchard bustles by, the giant egg takes a chill pill in her deck chair whilst being combed and pedicured.
Oblivious to the glare of the afternoon sun, the giant egg basks comfortably while a passer-by shields herself.
A picture perfect moment as her partner snaps away.
Look mum! I can eggs-pertly pamper the egg too!
After an egg-cellent afternoon of being pampered, the giant egg gets escorted off into the sunset.

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).

HEARTS BLEED FOR THE BLEEDING HEART AT JURONG BIRD PARK

A Luzon bleeding heart pigeon in the South East Asia Aviary, characterised by the splash of vivid red in the centre of the white breast. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Singapore, 17 April 2012 – Two pairs of Luzon bleeding heart pigeons flew into Jurong Bird Park a month ago, as part of an agreement signed with Avilon Zoo (Philippines) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Part of an ex-situ conservation and breeding programme instituted by the Bird Park, progenies will be released to the wild on the Polillo Islands in Philippines.

After the mandatory month long quarantine, the release of one pair of pigeons to the South-East Asia Aviary today will be witnessed by the Philippine Ambassador to Singapore, Ambassador Minda Calaguian-Cruz, and they will join the Park’s individual Luzon bleeding heart pigeon. The other pair of pigeons will be housed in a secluded, off-site breeding aviary where they will have the necessary privacy and attention of the officers at the Breeding and Research Centre (BRC).

“The Philippines deeply appreciates the commitment of Jurong Bird Park to assist in saving one of the country’s endangered species of wild birds. This collaborative project between the Philippines and Singapore is the first conservation breeding programme for the bleeding heart pigeons outside the Philippines and since the passage of the Philippines’ Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001. It is also the first ex-situ conservation project involving Philippine endemic species in the ASEAN region. We look with great interest towards the progress of this project, which aims to contribute towards the recovery and perpetuation of bleeding heart population in the Philippines and hopefully, the start of more conservation partnerships for nationally and regionally important wildlife resources. Hopefully, we can also share with the public a view of this wild bird species,” said Her Excellency, Ambassador Minda Calaguian-Cruz.

“We were concerned to hear that the wild population of the Luzon bleeding heart pigeons is under some threat. This is the first agreement the Bird Park has signed with an institution in Philippines, and we are excited to have more bleeding heart pigeons here. We currently have 16 species of pigeons in our collection, and have been breeding them successfully via parental natural incubation and artificial incubation. With our proven expertise in avian life, we are quietly confident that we will be able to release the progenies to Polillo Island in the future, helping to increase their numbers in the wild,” said Mr Raja Segran, General Manager, Jurong Bird Park.

The Luzon bleeding heart pigeons get their name from a splash of vivid red right in the centre of their white breast, with a reddish hue extending all the way down to their belly. A quiet and shy ground dweller from the primary and secondary rainforests of the central and southern parts of Luzon, and on the neighboring Polillo Islands in Philippines, this species is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN. Their numbers in the wild are under threat from the locals, who trap them for their meat, while their unique appearance also make them a prime target for the pet trade.

Her Excellency, Philippine’s Ambassador Minda Calaguian-Cruz looks on as a Luzon bleeding heart pigeon steps out into its’ new home at the South East Asia Aviary.
Her Excellency and Ms Isabella Loh, Chief Executive Officer, WRS, peer intently as the Luzon bleeding heart pigeons are released.

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.