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Project aims to highlight importance of avian conservation in Southeast Asia; Festivities include painting miniature birdhouses, arts and crafts, and ‘Birthday baby trail’

Image 1 [LEFT] A dedicated docent painting nest boxes which will be sent to Begawan Foundation and Cikananga Conservation Breeding Centre in Indonesia
Image 2 [RIGHT] These beautifully hand-painted nest boxes will be used by the endangered Bali Mynah and Black-winged Starling species in Indonesia

Singapore, 22 May 2016 – In celebration of its 45th anniversary, Jurong Bird Park has launched the ‘Home Tweet Home’ project which aims to highlight the importance of conservation for Southeast Asia bird species such as the critically endangered Bali Mynah and Black-winged Starling, among many others.

As a kick off, over 30 docents in Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) parks spent Sunday morning lovingly hand painting 45 nest boxes that will be used in conservation captive breeding programmes of two critically endangered bird species – the Bali Mynah and Black-winged Starling  in their native Indonesia. In the month of June, guests to Jurong Bird Park can see some of the nest boxes and even try their hand at painting a miniature version for a small donation to the Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund.

Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Life Sciences Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said, “Around 45 Southeast Asian bird species are listed as critically endangered today, and the threats they face include habitat loss and poaching for the illegal pet trade among others. As we celebrate the 45th anniversary of Jurong Bird Park, we remain committed to giving these threatened species a chance to survive into the future with our continued support of local and Southeast Asian bird conservation. We hope to raise awareness and engage our guests on the plight of these birds and for them to join us on our efforts to help these birds.”

The 45 birdhouses painted as part of the Home Tweet Home project will be sent to WRS’ regional conservation partners Begawan Foundation and Cikananga Conservation Breeding Centre.


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New exhibit a naturalistic sanctuary for the tortoises to display natural behaviour and breed;
Zoo celebrates World Turtle Day with special Keeper Talks for guests

Image 1: Great care was taken in designing Singapore Zoo’s Tortoise Shell-ter, now home to some of the world’s most threatened tortoises such as the critically endangered Ploughshare Tortoise (pictured above).Only 200 mature specimens are left in the wild, and survive in a 12 square km patch in Madagascar. Their decline in recent years is a result of poaching for the illegal pet trade. The species is at extreme risk of extinction in the wild within 10-15 years. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE
Image 2: Singapore Zoo has been successful in the conservation breeding and maintenance of an assurance colony of Southern River Terrapins (pictured above). More than 50 terrapins have been bred since 2007. Assurance colonies refer to the safeguarding of an endangered species under human care, in case the wild population is wiped out. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Singapore, 20 May 2016 – Boosting Singapore Zoo’s efforts to save the world’s most threatened vertebrates from extinction is its newest exhibit—Tortoise Shell-ter. Guests at the park can now look forward to learning more about some of the world’s rarest tortoises and ongoing efforts to increase their dwindling numbers.

Tortoise Shell-ter showcases three critically endangered tortoise species—the Ploughshare Tortoise, Radiated Tortoise and Burmese Star Tortoise—making it one of Singapore Zoo’s exhibits with greater conservation and educational values. Other threatened species at the new attraction include the Elongated Tortoise and the Yellow-footed Tortoise. The naturalistic exhibits feature rock walls, habitat specific planting, and climate-controlled micro-habitats, including special lighting, heating with temperature gradient and humidity control, to create the ideal home away from home for these delicate species to thrive.

Some of these tortoises share their homes with other compatible reptiles, such as the Rock Monitor, Black and White Tegu, Green Iguana and Veiled Chameleon. This provides inter-species interaction, which is a great form of enrichment for the inhabitants, as well as providing a more interesting viewing experience to the guests.
In addition to featuring threatened species, Tortoise Shell-ter is also a sanctuary for some former-victims of the illegal wildlife trade, which have been confiscated and sent to Singapore Zoo, such as the Indian Star Tortoise.

In the wild, these land-dwelling reptiles’ shells (called carapaces) shield them against predators but they are no match for the combination of habitat loss and human exploitation, including unsustainable consumption and poaching for the illegal pet trade.
Aside from showcasing these chelonians at the Tortoise Shell-ter, Singapore Zoo also contributes to safeguarding the future of other threatened species of turtles through conservation breeding and the maintenance of assurance colonies. The latter refers to the safekeeping of endangered species populations under human care in case something happens to the already diminished numbers in the wild. Singapore Zoo has a good track record of breeding threatened chelonian species, both terrestrial (tortoises) and aquatic (turtles and terrapins) and has recently had the first hatching for the critically endangered Painted Terrapin. Other threatened species bred at the Zoo include the endangered Elongated Tortoise and Burmese Mountain Tortoise and the critically endangered Southern River Terrapin.

The park’s breeding programmes offer the possibility of reintroducing the animals to the wild whenever their safety can be ensured in their natural habitat. In addition, Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) actively supports on-site and off-site breeding and reintroduction programmes in a few Southeast Asian countries. It also collaborates with trade monitoring organisations to raise awareness on illegal wildlife trade of tortoises.

Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Life Sciences Officer, WRS, said: “Within the span of just one human generation, many turtle and tortoise species have been decimated to near extinction through our activities. We are working in the zoo as well as in their native habitats to prevent these ancient creatures from disappearing from earth altogether. Through the Tortoise Shell-ter we would like to highlight their plights to our guests and to engage them to join us in our effort to save the species.”

World Turtle Day, observed every 23 May, aims to celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises, and their disappearing habitats around the world. To commemorate World Turtle Day this year, Singapore Zoo has lined up three special Keeper Talks for guests to find out more about these rare tortoises and their plight in the wild. Visitors will get to see the wild residents participating in a host of enrichment activities, and get up close and personal with the Indian star tortoise, the most confiscated tortoise in Singapore.


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Pangolin baby had 50 per cent chance of survival under human care;
Guests can find out more about the elusive creature at park’s upcoming keeper interaction programme

IMAGE 1 (left): Found weak, hungry, and wandering alone at Upper Thomson Road on 22 February this year, the abandoned critically endangered Sunda pangolin was taken to Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s rescued wildlife centre where vets made a desperate attempt to hand-raise him. To encourage his natural behaviour, the baby pangolin is taken for walks every morning and evening. Foraging exercises the critically endangered animal’s keen sense of smell and strong claws.

IMAGE 2 (right): The abandoned baby pangolin was bottle-fed kitten milk replacer (KMR), a substitute for his mother’s milk, before being introduced to ants’ eggs, which he now relishes. Eventually, the pangolin will progress to the captive diet, a protein-rich formula which includes minced beef, ants’ eggs, mealworms and insectivore supplements.


SINGAPORE, 7 April 2016 — Hungrily lapping up ants’ eggs, vigorously burrowing around his play tub and stubbornly clinging on to his caretaker’s arm despite being coaxed off—all heartening signs that the abandoned critically endangered baby Sunda pangolin was flourishing under the doting care of his human foster parents. This was a cause for celebration, for the robust creature today is a far cry from the wisp he had been weeks before.

Found weak, hungry, and wandering alone at Upper Thomson Road on 22 February, the four-month old pangolin was taken to Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s (WRS) rescued wildlife centre where vets made a desperate attempt to hand-raise him—a mammoth task as the delicate species generally does not thrive under human care.

The first and biggest challenge was his diet. While healthy, the baby rejected kitten milk replacer (KMR) as he was used to his mother’s milk. In addition, the scaly anteater was at a crucial point in his life of weaning off milk onto solid food, a diet of ants and termites. This change in diet caused intestinal issues and vets had to provide 24 hour care to the precious, critically endangered baby.

After a precarious one and a half week period, the pangolin proved resilient. He started drinking KMR four times a day and now relishes ants’ eggs. His milk intake has been reduced to twice daily and he is being eased into a specialised diet which the adult pangolins at Night Safari take.

Apart from diet, to encourage his natural behaviour, the baby pangolin is taken for walks every morning and evening on forested grounds. Foraging exercises the critically endangered animal’s keen sense of smell and strong claws.

Having grown from 776g to 1.1kg, the young pangolin’s makeshift quarters was upgraded to accommodate his growth. He now resides in the veterinary ward with a roomy tub for play and rest, complete with a large branch to climb on. When fully grown, a male Sunda pangolin can weigh up to 7.5kg.

Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Chief Life Sciences Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore said, “Successfully raising a Sunda pangolin from such a young age is a real achievement. This critically endangered species has notoriously low survival rates under human care, and this experience has given us invaluable knowledge on how to care for the species.”

Once the baby pangolin is independent and graduates to the captive diet, he will join the seven Sunda pangolins at Night Safari’s Fishing Cat Trail, two of which were born under human care. Night Safari opened the world’s first Sunda pangolin exhibit in 2009.

The Sunda pangolin is listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN* Red List of Threatened Species. Globally, all eight species of pangolins are threatened with extinction as a result of unsustainable illegal trade to supply human consumption and traditional medicine in East Asia. In Singapore, the Sunda pangolin is threatened with habitat loss and motor vehicle accidents. WRS is funding ecological and genetic studies of this species whose natural history is not well understood.

As part of WRS’ efforts to highlight the plight of this dwindling species, Night Safari will begin its new keeper interaction cum feeding programme in mid-May. During the session, a keeper will educate visitors on the pangolin’s history and situation in the wild while pangolin feeding takes place in the exhibit. Due to their secretive nature, few know about the world’s only scaly mammal, so the session will provide rare insights of this creature’s natural behaviour, such as climbing trees and foraging for food.

*IUCN stands for International Union for Conservation of NatureImage 3_Baby pangolin climbs tree_WRS

 IMAGE 3 (left): Learning to climb trees exercises the tree-dwelling Sunda pangolin’s strong claws and semi-prehensile tail (tails which are capable of grasping), which it uses to grip bark and scale trees. Having grown bigger and stronger, he has taken to wrapping his tail around his caregiver’s arm, unwilling to let go.






Image 4_Snoozing baby pangolin_WRS




IMAGE 4 (left): The baby pangolin curls up as he snoozes soundly. He only learnt to curl fully on 3 March 2016, as pictured. Curling up into a tight ball is the pangolin’s best defense against predators but ironically its worst defense against human beings, as it allows poachers to easily pick it up and toss it into a bag.

Image 5_Baby pangolin eats ants eggs_WRS

IMAGE 5 (left): The pangolin’s caregivers add his favourite ants’ eggs to the captive diet to encourage him to take it, but the sneaky baby would pick out just the ants’ eggs and leave the rest untouched.



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Giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia ready for second attempt at making a baby panda;
Guests will not be able to see giant pandas for three days during the mating season

A lovelorn Kai Kai_WRS

With the approach of the giant panda mating season, visitors to River Safari’s Giant Panda Forest can expect to see lovelorn Kai Kai (seen above) and his mate Jia Jia displaying some courtship behaviour. Photo Credit: Wildlife Reserves Singapore

SINGAPORE, 23 March 2016  With the approach of the annual panda mating season, River Safari’s giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia are gearing up for their second shot at making a baby panda and guests at the park may observe some intriguing courtship behaviour from the pair.

Giant panda mating season is typically from February to May. As early as January, Kai Kai and Jia Jia have shown early signs that the breeding season was going to start soon.

In the coming weeks, visitors can expect to see male panda Kai Kai bleating in his exhibit and scent-marking more frequently. He may also display the flehmen response, a behaviour whereby an animal curls back its upper lip to sniff for pheromones to assess the breeding readiness of its mate. When mating season arrives, female panda Jia Jia will display restless behaviour and bleating to attract the attention of her mate.

Nine-year-old Kai Kai and eight-year-old Jia Jia entered mating season for the first time last April but both natural mating and artificial insemination had been unsuccessful. The experience, however, has armed River Safari’s team of veterinarians and keepers with a better understanding of the endangered bears’ notoriously complex reproduction process. For the coming mating season, vets and keepers have fine-tuned and employed techniques proven to be successful before in other zoos.

To enhance his performance ahead of the breeding season, Kai Kai has been dutifully doing his “sexercise” in his den for months. Panda keepers get Kai Kai to stand up on his hind legs for a few seconds at a time to strengthen his hind quarters. The exercise also serves to improve his stamina which would help to improve success rates during mating.

As with the year before, keepers have continued varying daylight hours and temperature at River Safari’s Giant Panda Forest. This simulates the seasonal transition from winter to spring in their homeland in Sichuan, China, triggering the breeding cycle of the pair—the first of their kind to live so close to the equator.

Kai Kai and Jia Jia also swapped exhibits and dens in January and February. Smelling the scent of another gender stimulates their mating instincts, encouraging hormonal changes.

At present, vets and keepers are carefully observing the behaviour of the two pandas as well as monitoring Jia Jia’s hormonal levels. Once the black and white duo are deemed ready, the pandas will be taken out of their respective exhibits for three days to allow natural mating in the dens. During this mating season of three days, guests to River Safari will not be able to see Kai Kai and Jia Jia in the Giant Panda Forest.

Vets have also collected Kai Kai’s semen for artificial insemination to increase the chances of breeding the pandas should natural mating be unsuccessful.

Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Chief Life Sciences Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said, “Kai Kai and Jia Jia are the first giant pandas to live so close to the equator and make an intriguing case study for researchers worldwide. We have learnt much about the care of this endangered species and their breeding behaviour in the last few years, and the team is ready to apply this knowledge and hope for a Singapore baby panda this year.”



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* IUCN stands for International Union for Conservation of Nature

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


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Real-life inspired images and anecdotes of animals expose bleak nature of illegal wildlife trade;
Wildlife Reserves Singapore calls for public to take action

YouBuyTheyDie - Cockatoo

SINGAPORE, 10 March 2016 – Cockatoos stuffed in bottles to be smuggled as pets, and pangolin babies taken from their mothers’ wombs to meet the insatiable demand for exotic medicine and food delicacies—these are disturbing but true accounts of animals being transported for the illegal wildlife trade. By highlighting the fate of these animals in the second instalment of the You Buy, They Die campaign, Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) hopes to rally the public to take a stand against the illegal wildlife trade.

From 10 March to 6 April 2016, commuters taking buses and trains will come across harsh but realistic images of animals being transported for the illegal wildlife trade: cockatoos stuffed in plastic bottles where two out of five do not survive, and pangolins crushed against limbs and choking under mangled bodies. These visuals can be seen on train windows and bus stops around the island, as well as educational interpretive at Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari, River Safari and Singapore Zoo.

Dr Sonja Luz, Director, Conservation and Research, WRS, said: “The illegal wildlife trade is a multi-billion dollar business with devastating consequences for wild animal populations and ecosystems. Many species suffer greatly in the process. With this campaign, we hope to empower the public to take action and help us change their fate. Our ultimate goal is to stop the demand and that will only happen if everyone understands the problem, spreads the word and takes action by making informed decisions when offered wildlife or wildlife products.”

YouBuyTheyDie - Pangolin

To encourage engagement, the advertisements contain QR codes for commuters to scan with their mobile phones, immerse in a 360˚ experience that showcases the brutal smuggling process, and put an end to the cycle of death by declaring their pledges at ChangeTheirFate.sg. Those who pledge can immediately see the brighter future they have made for wildlife, with visuals of animals seen in their natural habitats and maintaining balance in the ecosystem.

Rising affluence, increasing purchasing power and globalisation all spell trouble for wildlife as the growing demand for exotic meat, body parts, traditional medicine, pets and luxury items, directly causes drastic declines in wildlife numbers.

Possible Singapore is the creative agency behind the campaign. The latest initiative is WRS’ second instalment of the You Buy, They Die anti-wildlife crime campaign launched in 2015 to educate the public on how their buying decisions can support the conservation of endangered wildlife. Members of the public who have information on illegal wildlife activities are advised to make a report immediately to the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA). In addition, they can also download the free Wildlife Witness App, created in partnership with the Taronga Conservation Society Australia and wildlife monitoring network TRAFFIC.


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Ah Meng’s legacy lives on in granddaughter and annual run at Night Safari and Singapore Zoo; Safari Zoo Run 2016 marks public debut of newly crowned Ah Meng

Singapore, 27 February 2016 — Over 8,500 participants will pay homage to Singapore Zoo’s newly crowned animal ambassador Ah Meng over the weekend of 27 and 28 February 2016 as they race through the lush forested trails of Mandai in the eighth instalment of Safari Zoo Run, a race conceptualised to celebrate the life of the first Ah Meng.

Guest of Honour, Mr S Dhanabalan, Chairman of Mandai Safari Park Holdings, flagged off the first race before meeting with Ah Meng, who was officially crowned only one day earlier in a private event. Lucky runners also got a closer glimpse of the new queen of the jungle as she descended from her treetop throne.

Mr Mike Barclay, CEO of Wildlife Reserves Singapore, joined the action and ran alongside runners in the 10km competitive category. Families could enjoy the more manageable 5.5km run. Races on Day 2 include the 5.5km competitive and family runs, and 2.5km kids and family dashes. Participants over both days also get to enjoy appearances by animal mascots, educational show and tell sessions and animal photography opportunities after their races.

Safari Zoo Run was conceived eight years ago and celebrates the life of Ah Meng, Singapore Zoo’s iconic Sumatran orangutan, who died of old age in February 2008. Her popularity was so great that to many Singaporeans, the name Ah Meng is synonymous with orangutans. Singapore Zoo introduced a new Ah Meng, eight years after the first passed on, in hopes that her legacy will live on and her descendants can continue to be animal ambassadors to inspire people to care for orangutans and other threatened species.

A part of the proceeds from Safari Zoo Run 2016 will go towards aiding the conservation efforts of Singapore Zoo and Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

Image 1 - Safari Zoo Run 2016_WRSImage 1: Guest-of-Honour Mr S Dhanabalan, Chairman of Mandai Safari Park Holdings (extreme left), flags off Safari Zoo Run’s first run of the day – the 10km competitive race. He is accompanied by Ms Isabel Cheng, Chief Marketing Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore (third from left) and the Ah Meng mascot.


Image 2 - Safari Zoo Run 2016_WRSImage 2: Mr S Dhanabalan, Chairman of Mandai Safari Park Holdings (extreme right), meets Singapore Zoo’s freshly minted royalty, Ah Meng (second orangutan from left), who will carry on the legacy of her grandmother and be an ambassador for the park and her species. Looking on are Alagappasamy Chellaiyah, primate specialist, Singapore Zoo (second from right), and Kumaran Sesshe, head keeper, great apes, Singapore Zoo (third from right).


Image 3 - Safari Zoo Run 2016_WRSImage 3: Kumaran Sesshe, head keeper, great apes, Singapore Zoo, points out the new Ah Meng to excited participants who were taking a breather from their 10km race in this year’s instalment of the wildly popular Safari Zoo Run.


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