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

JURONG BIRD PARK UNVEILS WINGS OF ASIA AVIARY

Rejuvenated aviary houses one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of rare Asian birds;
Park welcomes 11 threatened species for conservation breeding

Guest-of-Honour Mr Desmond Lee, Minister of State for National Development, receives a key to Jurong Bird Park’s rejuvenated Wings of Asia aviary from Sassy the cockatoo.
Guest-of-Honour Mr Desmond Lee, Minister of State for National Development, receives a key to Jurong Bird Park’s rejuvenated Wings of Asia aviary from Sassy the cockatoo. (Photo Credit: Wildlife Reserves Singapore)

SINGAPORE, 21 January 2015 – Visitors to Jurong Bird Park can marvel at some of Asia’s rarest and most exotic birds with the unveiling of the Wings of Asia aviary today, in a ceremony officiated by Mr Desmond Lee, Minister of State for National Development.

With a collection of over 500 birds representing 135 species when complete, the rejuvenated aviary houses the largest diversity of birds in the park. It is home to one of the world’s most comprehensive and admired collections of Asian birds, including 24 threatened species such as the Bali mynah, Luzon bleeding-heart dove and black-winged starling. These species have been successfully hatched and raised as part of the park’s ongoing conservation breeding programmes.

Black-winged starling

Eleven of the 24 threatened species are new additions, with five being displayed for the first time in the park. These include the Javan green magpie, rufous-fronted laughingthrush and racquet-tailed parrot which are expected to arrive in the park soon. Plans are underway to kick-start a breeding programme for these birds whose numbers are declining rapidly in the wild due to habitat loss and degradation as well as excessive trapping for the cage-bird trade. Through conservation breeding, the park hopes to maintain and safeguard a sustainable population of these birds and eventually introduce selected species back into the wild, in their native lands.

Ms Claire Chiang, Chairman, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said: “Over the years, Jurong Bird Park has been actively involved in the conservation of Asia’s most precious birds, from boosting the numbers of threatened species to working with multiple agencies, to repopulating birds in their native habitats. The unveiling of Wings of Asia represents another feather in our conservation cap and we hope this crown jewel will inspire visitors to appreciate, understand and protect Asia’s winged wonders.”

Previously known as the Southeast Asian Birds Aviary, the 2,600 square-meter exhibit underwent a three-month makeover which included the expansion of its smaller aviaries, theming work, refreshed educational displays for visitors to learn about the different species of birds, and an overhaul of its aviary mesh for better viewing.

Visitors can look forward to special experiences such as feeding and chit-chat sessions with keepers to learn more about the feathered residents.

CRITICALLY ENDANGERED BALI MYNAHS FIND NEW HOME IN JURONG BIRD PARK

First feathered residents move into soon-to-be-opened Wings of Asia aviary

Avian management officer, Ivan Choo, releases a pair of Bali mynahs into Jurong Bird Park’s Wings of Asia aviary which will officially open in late January 2015.  PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE.
Avian management officer, Ivan Choo, releases a pair of Bali mynahs into Jurong Bird Park’s Wings of Asia aviary which will officially open in late January 2015.
PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE.

SINGAPORE, 4 December 2014 – Four critically endangered Bali mynahs, whose numbers add up to fewer than 50 in the wild, were among the first feathered residents to move into the new Wings of Asia aviary at Jurong Bird Park.

The Bali mynah, or Bali starling, is found only in the Bali islands of Indonesia and can be identified through its clear white feathers, black-tipped wings and vivid blue skin around its eyes. The declining numbers are primarily attributable to unsustainable, illegal trapping for the pet trade and rapid habitat destruction.

With fewer than 50 left in the wild, the Bali mynah is one of the many rare bird species that Jurong Bird Park aims to protect through its conservation and research programmes. PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE.
With fewer than 50 left in the wild, the Bali mynah is one of the many rare bird species that Jurong Bird Park aims to protect through its conservation and research programmes.
PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE.

To conserve the species, Jurong Bird Park has been working with the Bali-based Begawan Foundation on a breeding and exchange programme to boost the population and enhance the gene pool of Bali mynahs raised under human care.

In the next few weeks, over 300 feathered residents will be moved into their new homes. Visitors to Jurong Bird Park will soon get to marvel at Asia’s rarest and most exotic birds with the unveiling of the Wings of Asia aviary in late January 2015.

ALL HAIL THE KINGS AT JURONG BIRD PARK

JURONG BIRD PARK IS THE FIRST IN SOUTH EAST ASIA AND THE SECOND GLOBALLY TO SUCCESSFULLY BREED THE KING BIRD-OF-PARADISE

Two king bird-of-paradise hatchlings at 14 days old
Fully fledged king bird-of-paradise chicks being fed by the mother

Singapore, 19 July 2012Jurong Bird Park is the first in South East Asia and the second institution globally to successfully breed the king bird-of-paradise. Out of a clutch of two eggs, two chicks hatched on 18 May, bringing the total number of king bird-of-paradise at the Bird Park to five.

Jurong Bird Park first attempted to breed the king bird-of-paradise in 2010. That year, one egg by a breeding pair was found broken and the other was infertile. The inexperienced female king bird-of-paradise was also observed to be throwing eggs out of the nest box. Although the breeding pair was moved to an off-exhibit side aviary in 2011, successful hatchings were not to be achieved until a year later in 2012. Keepers decided to try something slightly different this year. They reused a nest box which already had a nest, abandoned by another female king bird-of-paradise. The present ‘mother’ accepted the nest and laid 2 eggs soon after.

Birds only breed in conditions they feel secure and comfortable in – and this species usually nests at heights of 3metres in the wild. In this instance, although the off-exhibit side aviary had less vegetation for camouflage, and the nest box was lower from the ground at 1.5metres, this breeding pair felt safe in the environment that Bird Park created for them.

“We are very proud to welcome not one, but two king bird-of-paradise hatchlings. Breeding and taking care of birds is not an exact science, and it took two years of dedication and keen observation by our keepers to achieve this. Although listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, restrictions have made it difficult to acquire more numbers of the king bird-of-paradise from New Guinea, so the two hatchlings will certainly add to the collection we have in Bird Park,” said Mr Raja Segran, General Manager, Jurong Bird Park.

Interestingly enough, the king bird-of-paradise is the smallest species of bird-of-paradise. Females are unadorned and a dull brown, while the males are crimson and white with bright blue feet and green-tipped fan-like-plumes on its shoulder. The two elongated tail wires are decorated with emerald green disk feathers on its tip. The king bird-of-paradise is distributed throughout lowland forests of New Guinea and nearby islands. This so-called “living gem” is the smallest and most vividly colored among birds of paradise. The diet consists mainly of fruit and arthropods. An extraordinary display is performed by the male with a series of tail swinging, fluffing of its abdomen white feathers that makes the bird look like a cottonball, and acrobatic pendulum displays.

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).

ROOTING FOR A REPTILE ROMANCE AT SINGAPORE ZOO

KEEPERS RELOCATE FEMALE FALSE GHARIAL TO MEET POTENTIAL MATE

SINGAPORE, 27 Jul 2010 – It took the strength of more than 10 keepers at the Singapore Zoo to move a 3 metre long false gharial from her Bornean Marsh home early this month.

The 160kg reptile that has resided in the Zoo for the past 10 years was relocated to another exhibit because she was being bullied by a larger female. To keep the two females apart, keepers decided to move her to the Treetops Trail exhibit which is home to a 5m long, 600kg male. They hope the two massive crocodilians will take a liking to each other, and start breeding.

“By introducing these potential mates, we hope to diversify the gene pool and increase our numbers. Not much is known about the biology of this species in the wild. Currently, the estimated wild population is fewer than 2,500 individuals, so captive breeding could play a vital role in the recovery of this species” said Mr Subash Chandran, Curator, Singapore Zoo. Currently, Singapore Zoo houses 11 false gharials.

The false gharial or tomistoma, is a unique crocodilian that shares features with both the
Indian gharial and other crocodile species, including the saltwater crocodile. These reptiles have slightly thicker snouts compared to the Indian gharial, whose thin snout helps it catch fish underwater. Unlike the Indian gharial which feeds exclusively on fish, the false gharial also preys on small mammals such as monkeys and fruit bats. The false gharial is one of the largest crocodile species, reaching lengths of 5-6 metres and it also produces the largest eggs of any crocodile species.

Throughout zoos around the world, there has been little success with the captive breeding of false gharials. Following efforts to breed this species at the Singapore Zoo in recent years, mating of these unique crocodiles and egg laying by the females has been observed. However, the Zoo has yet to successfully hatch a baby false gharial.

The false gharial has a low population density and is classified as an endangered species. Once widely distributed in Indonesia, Malaysia and possibly Thailand, this species has declined throughout its range. Small remnant populations remain in Java and Peninsular Malaysia and there are low densities of the species in Sarawak, Sumatra and Kalimantan. The false gharial is now extinct in Thailand.

While the main threat to this species is habitat destruction, intensive hunting in some areas has also contributed to its decline. Other threats come from fishing practices, with false gharials either becoming tangled in fishing nets or losing their food source to local fisherman.

Singapore Zoo keepers hold the false gharial in place to calm and restrain the animal to ensure it doesn't injure itself or anyone around it
Singapore Zoo keepers moving the false gharial into a transportation container
Singapore Zoo keepers transporting the false gharial from the Bornean Marsh exhibit to the Treetops Trail

WRS INVITES SINGAPOREANS TO NAME THE GIANT PANDAS

Singapore, 15 June 2010Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) and CapitaLand have launched a nation-wide competition today to name the pair of Giant Pandas which will arrive in Singapore in 2011.

The pair of male and female pandas will be on loan to WRS from the China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA) as part of a 10-year joint collaboration to promote the conservation of Giant Pandas and kick-start a breeding research programme. WRS is the parent company of Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari, Singapore Zoo and the upcoming River Safari, which will be home to the pandas. CapitaLand, one of Asia’s largest real estate companies, is the Presenting Sponsor and Conservation Donor of the Giant Panda collaborative programme.

From now till 31 August 2010, members of the public can submit their entries for the two new furry black and white residents at www.pandas.com.sg. The names must be symbolic in meaning, reflect the close relationship between Singapore and China, and be easy to pronounce. Suggested names given for both male and female Giant Pandas must be in Chinese, with the option of an English, Malay or Tamil translation. Each entry comes with a participation fee of SGD $2, which will be donated in full to the Giant Panda Conservation Fund for the pandas’ upkeep.

The winning pair of names, to be announced in October 2010, will be picked by a panel of judges comprising representatives from the Singapore Tourism Board, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Singapore, WRS and CapitaLand. The winner will receive a complimentary three-night stay at any Ascott serviced residence worldwide, an exclusive preview of the Giant Panda exhibit when it opens in 2012 and other attractive prizes.

The River Safari, Asia’s first river-themed park and WRS’ fourth and latest nature attraction, will be home to the two Giant Pandas. Giant Pandas are the rarest members of the bear family and are considered one of the world’s most endangered animals. About 1,600 Giant Pandas are estimated to be left in the wild, and to ensure the existence of these endearing creatures, some 200 Giant Pandas have been placed in captive breeding programmes in wildlife parks across the world.

“The arrival of the Giant Pandas is a milestone for WRS and Singapore. We call upon the local community to welcome these gentle creatures by taking part in a nation-wide search for their names, to demonstrate our commitment to wildlife conservation and to celebrate the close ties between Singapore and China,” said Ms Fanny Lai, Group CEO of Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

Mr Liew Mun Leong, President and CEO of CapitaLand Group, said, “The Giant Panda collaborative programme will raise cultural exchange and understanding between Singapore and China and further strengthen the strong relationship between the two countries. It is against this backdrop that CapitaLand, as an active social investor in Singapore and China, is proud to be the Presenting Sponsor and Conservation Donor of the programme. This naming contest for the two Giant Pandas will raise conservation awareness of the Singapore public as we get ready to welcome these Chinese national treasures to Singapore next year.”

For more information, please refer to www.pandas.com.sg.

Can you think of a name for our Giant pandas?

CRITICALLY-ENDANGERED BANDED LEAF MONKEYS CONTINUE TO BREED IN SINGAPORE

BREAKTHROUGH RESEARCH BY NUS, NPARKS AND WRSCF FINDS NEW EVIDENCE ON POPULATION GROWTH

Singapore, April 10, 2010 – A National University of Singapore (NUS) research team, in collaboration with National Parks Board (NParks) and Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund (WRSCF), has found breakthrough evidence that the population of banded leaf monkeys, believed to be on the verge of extinction since two decades ago, has been growing in Singapore’s forests. This includes the first-ever observations of breeding for the critically-endangered banded leaf monkeys in Singapore and is especially momentous, as 2010 has been designated International Year of Biodiversity.

Research findings point to significant milestones as the banded leaf monkey is one of only three species of non-human primates native to Singapore. Rare, elusive and threatened by habitat loss, the banded leaf monkey is critically endangered. It is part of Singapore’s natural heritage and has the potential of becoming a flagship species for conservation efforts.

This conservation research project was spearheaded by NUS student Andie Ang Hui Fang since July 2008 under the guidance of Associate Professor Rudolf Meier from the NUS Evolutionary Biology Lab, and assisted by Mirza Rifqi Ismail, an NParks research officer. Assistant Professor Michael Gumert from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) also provided invaluable counsel throughout the project.

WRSCF, through the Ah Meng Memorial Conservation Fund (AMMCF) funded the research and provided equipment support. AMMCF, the first recipient of WRSCF, received $500,000 over a five-year period for conducting academic research and studies pertaining to endangered wildlife. The banded leaf monkey project is the first to receive funding from AMMCF.

The goal of this project is to identify the life history parameters of the banded leaf monkey in Singapore, including its population size, feeding ecology, intra- and inter-specific interactions and threats they are faced with in order to support its conservation efforts.

The research has uncovered important evidence that the population of banded leaf monkeys in Singapore has grown to at least 40 individuals, more than the previous estimates of 10 in the 1980s, and 10-15 in the 1990s. The research has collected first findings on the breeding cycle and species of plants they feed on, some of which are rare and locally endangered.

One particularly encouraging finding is that the females are reproducing successfully with at least one breeding cycle every July and infants observed. The project also used non-invasive sampling techniques to obtain genetic information that have helped to clarify the species’ taxonomic status in comparison with populations of banded leaf monkeys found in Southern Malaysia.

The project will continue with the monitoring of population changes and analysing of the botanical composition of the forest in order to examine the sustainability of the habitat for the monkeys. As part of the plan, a population viability assessment will be carried out and important forest fragments will be identified in the hope of connecting the fragments through reforestation. The information gathered will also be used to develop a management plan for conserving one of the last remaining primate species in Singapore.

Professor Peter Ng, Director of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research and the Tropical Marine Science Institute at NUS, said, “As a global university centred in Asia, NUS is well placed to address the myriad of challenges associated with urban city states, sustainable development and conservation. The university has a long history of biodiversity research, its Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research being one of the oldest and most highly regarded natural history museums in the region. Its researchers and affiliated staff from the Department of Biological Sciences are active in modern, often cross-disciplinary, research in many parts of Southeast Asia and they have contributed substantially to our understanding of the region’s biodiversity. In Singapore, NUS researchers work closely with various government agencies to generate baseline information and to ensure that key habitats and species are conserved; and there are also long term plans for monitoring their survival.”

Prof Ng added, “This is the International Year of Biodiversity and NUS is pleased to contribute to global efforts to slow down biodiversity erosion and promote the cause of conservation. The banded leaf monkey project and the suite of conservation projects currently undertaken by NUS researchers and students are important steps toward this long term goal.”

Dr Lena Chan, Deputy Director of National Biodiversity Centre (NParks) said: “The research findings are very exciting. We had thought for a long time that the banded leaf monkey population is on the decline but the findings show the contrary. This shows that with good management our nature reserves do have the potential to reverse population declines for endangered species. It also underscores the importance of safeguarding the reserves and keeping them healthy so that existing native species can continue to thrive.”

“It is most apt that these significant research findings are unveiled this year—the International Year of Biodiversity. Despite Singapore’s highly urbanised environment and land constraints, Singapore remains a safe haven for species that can live in small patches of lowland tropical forest, mangroves, freshwater swamp forest, seagrass beds, mudflats and coral reefs. This has been made possible through the protection of remaining patches of native vegetation and marine ecosystems and this approach has been successful in conserving the remaining biodiversity in a city setting. The banded leaf monkey project is one such effort to protect and conserve our natural heritage,” said Professor Leo Tan, Board of Trustee for WRSCF.

Professor Tommy Koh, Ambassador-At-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a strong advocate of conservation applauded the research efforts: “The biological diversity of our planet faces as great a crisis as our climate system. The loss of biodiversity poses a threat to our health, wealth and the ecosystems which sustain life. This is why we should all do what we can to prevent the extinction of our plant and animal species. The leaf monkey is a symbol of the challenge we face.”

Further details about the banded leaf monkey project will be shared during a public lecture event, to be held at NUS on 16 Apr 2010.
For more information or to up, please visit:
http://newshub.nus.edu.sg/headlines/0410/leaf_21Apr10.php.

Banded Leaf Monkey
Banded Leaf Monkey with baby
Banded Leaf Monkey

WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE SEES AN INCREASE IN ANIMALS DONATED TO THE PARKS

637 ANIMALS DONATED IN 2007

Singapore, May 16, 2008 – The total number of animals donated to the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari rose to 460 in 2007, a sharp increase from the 118 animals donated in 2006. Jurong Bird Park received a total of 177 donations in 2007.

The majority of these were either brought in by the police or confiscated by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA). Confiscations from AVA constituted a seven-fold jump from 25 to 175, over the previous year. The animals were mainly reptiles, and included star tortoises, green iguanas, fly-river turtles and Southeast Asian soft-shell turtles.

Donated animals are quarantined upon arrival, to prevent the potential spread of diseases to the rest of the parks’ animal collection. During the quarantine period, the animals are cared for and administered by the parks’ team of vets and keepers. The team inspects the animals for signs of injury and illness and provide them with a diet comprising appropriate food, nutritional supplements and medication, if necessary.

The need to feed and care for donated animals is a responsibility that the Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) institutions take in their stride. Designated as Singapore’s official wildlife rescue centres, the Jurong BirdPark, Night Safari and Singapore Zoo are able to provide expert specialist care to a spectrum of exotic animals that enter the facilities. Over the last three decades, WRS parks have cared for and rescued more than 10,000 animals from all over the world, including Singapore.

The expertise to provide this assistance comes with years of experience in handling over 4,000 animals and 7,000 birds on a daily basis through the running of the three parks. WRS enjoy excellent relations and maintain constant communication with zoological institutions all over the world to keep abreast of the latest veterinary know-how. Staff are regularly sent on numerous overseas learning attachments, ensuring we are able to deal with anything from tarantulas to orang utans.

Ms Fanny Lai, CEO of Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said, “We see many cases each year of exotic animals brought in and subsequently abandoned when the host family realises they do not have the necessary skills or resources to care for them. These animals can be extremely difficult to upkeep and I strongly urge members of the public and animal lovers not to buy or raise exotic animals as pets.”

Management of donated animals
WRS’ parks manage these donations and confiscations in a variety of ways. Integration into the parks’ animal collection is one method. For example, a 2-week old slow loris that was donated by the public in August 2007 was hand-raised and is now in Night Safari’s collection. Slow lorises are listed on CITES Appendix I, which means trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.

In August 2007, a total of 139 confiscated Southeast Asian soft-shell turtles were brought in. Thirty-two had to be euthanased and 107 housed in Singapore Zoo. Of these, 61 are now surviving and the population have since stabilised. These turtles are on CITES Appendix II, which includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilisation incompatible with their survival. Also listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, these turtles are considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.

Native wildlife that were donated to the parks, such as the pangolins, have been microchipped, rehabilitated and released back into the wild. Some exotic animals have also been repatriated to the various countries of origin or to other zoo collections to participate in breeding programmes. For example, 15 star tortoises were sent to Lisbon Zoo for display and breeding purposes in March this year. Another donated slow loris will be making its way to Augsburg Zoo in Germany this June. Two male-female pairs of white-handed gibbons were sent to Canada and Sri Lanka respectively in 2006. Two thousand star tortoises were sent back to India in 2002 and 15 shingle-back skinks, a green tree python and a crocodile skink were sent to Detroit Zoo for re-homing and breeding purposes.

WRS would like to urge the public not to import or keep exotic animals as pets. To reiterate, under The Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act (ESA) it is an offence to import and export any endangered species without a permit from AVA. It is also an offence to possess, sell, offer or expose for sale, or display to the public any of these species, if it has been illegally imported. Any person or company caught violating the ESA is liable to be prosecuted in Court and fined up to a maximum of S$50,000 for each animal or plant, and/or imprisoned for a term up to 2 years.