KITTY CATS GALORE AT NIGHT SAFARI

DOUBLE SURPRISE AS WORLD’S FIRST SAFARI PARK FOR NOCTURNAL ANIMALS WELCOMES BIRTH OF FISHING CATS AND BEARCATS

A pair of fishing cat kittens (left) and a pair of bearcat cubs (right) PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

24 April 2012 – The world’s first Night Safari recently celebrated the birth of a pair of fishing cats and bearcats. The fishing cats were born on January 13 while the bearcat litter joined approximately two weeks later, on January 26.

The young fishing cats, one male and one female, are currently being hand-raised to increase the kittens’ chances of survival, as their four-year-old mother is relatively inexperienced. At three-months-old, the kittens weigh approximately 3kg and are growing strong and healthy.

The two other cubs – both currently weighing 2.5kg – are binturongs, also known as bearcats. Over the years, the park has successfully bred 60 bearcats. This secretive animal has a face like a cat’s and a body like a bear’s. Despite its name, the bearcat is neither a bear nor a cat. It is actually a member of the civet family. Found primarily on treetops in the rainforest of south and southeast Asia, bearcats have a mixed diet of fruits, leaves, birds, carrion, fish and eggs.

Due to habitat destruction, the numbers of fishing cats and bearcats are declining in the wild. In addition to habitat loss, over-exploitation of local fish stocks threatens the survival of fishing cats. Bearcats are captured for the pet trade, and their skins and body parts are traded for traditional medicine in some Asian countries. Fishing cats are listed as endangered on the IUCN* Red List of Threatened Species while bearcats are classified as vulnerable.

Night Safari displays the bearcats and fishing cats in the Fishing Cat Trail.

Being one of the few cats that love water, fishing cats eat primarily fish but will also prey on crustaceans, frogs and snakes. The cat attracts fish by lightly tapping the water's surface with its paw, mimicking insect movements. It then dives into the water to catch the fish.
A curious fishing cat kitten explores its area. Fishing cats are commonly found near densely vegetated areas near the marshes, mangrove swamps and rivers of Asia.
In Malay, the bearcat is also known as “musang manis” – the word “manis” means sweet and this relates to the animal’s pleasant scent, which is said to smell like pandan leaves or popcorn. The bearcat is actually a civet, which is characterised by an elongated body and anal scent glands that produce secretions for scent marking.
A bearcat cub demonstrates its ability to hang upside down with its long, prehensile tail to grip on the tree branch. The tail is also equipped with a leathery patch at the end for extra grip.

MIRACLE RODENTS NOW ON EXHIBIT AT SINGAPORE ZOO

– BIZARRE-LOOKING NAKED MOLE RATS MAY HOLD SECRET TO LONGEVITY
– LATEST OFFERING SHOWCASES THESE CURIOUS CREATURES’ UNDERGROUND LIFE

Singapore, 7 March 2012 – They are hairless, buck-toothed and very nearly blind. Pick one of these creatures up and you’ll realise that they smell really bad. It’s probably from all the rolling about in their own fecal matter so they’ll smell like one big happy family. Smelly or not, scientists believe that naked mole rats’ genetic material holds the secret to a long life – they can live over 20 years, almost eight times longer than mice.

These little rodents, only one of two mammals known to have a social structure similar to social insects, now have a huge exhibit all to themselves—Singapore Zoo’s first foray into showcasing such little creatures on a comparatively large scale.

Wrinkled “sausages” with teeth: Naked mole rats have lips that close behind the teeth. This way, they don’t end up with a mouthful of dirt when digging and burrowing!

The exhibit mimics their system of burrows in the wild in order to provide a naturalistic environment for them. Naked mole rats have burrow systems extending up to 4.8 kilometres long in the wild and covering an area as big as six football fields.

Singapore Zoo’s exhibit, measuring 50 square metres, is a scaled-down version of their complex living environment. Constructed with steel and concrete, it also has glass-fronted panels for visitors to view the naked mole rats at work and play. Lighting is kept dim, as these creatures are used to living in dark environments.

Tunnel vision: Guests peering at the naked mole rats in their ‘natural’ home!
Did you know the tunnels are actually completely man-made! This is how the intricate system of tunnels looks like from the back of house area.

To facilitate convenient cleaning, two identical sets of burrow systems were constructed. Each set is washed and switched every month, then lined with pine shavings to keep them clean and relatively odourless. It is hard work, as the components of the exhibit are extremely sturdy – a necessary defense against the strong teeth of these rats. Unfortunately, these little creatures seem to possess superhuman strength, and have already managed to make dents in some of the concrete components, much to the dismay of their keepers!

Though only recently opened, the naked mole rat exhibit is already a popular spot for curious visitors

An interactive element was also added – a pint-sized tunnel for children to crawl through and imagine a day in the life of a naked mole rat. Periscopes and child-friendly interpretive and activity panels complete the educational component of this exhibit.

Mind your head, for these tunnels are made for little humans only

“Having such an accessible and engaging exhibit allows us to observe the behaviour of these fascinating critters closely, as such animals cannot be studied so easily in the wild. Singapore Zoo hopes to be able to contribute to the education and research of this species, and at the same time introduce the lesser-known wonders of nature to our guests,” said Dr Sonja Luz, Director, Conservation, Research and Learning Centre, Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

Come visit and learn more about the naked mole rat at Singapore Zoo today! If these little creatures end up contributing to longer lives for all of us one day, you can tell everyone you saw them first at our Zoo!

Note: Daily feeding sessions are held at 11.30am

NIGHT SAFARI’S BABY GIRAFFE MAKES PUBLIC AND BLOGOSPHERE DEBUT

PARK LAUNCHES FIRST-EVER ANIMAL BLOG TO SHOWCASE CALF’S GROWING JOURNEY AND CREATES SINGAPORE’S TALLEST BABY PRAM TO BRING LANKY NEWBORN CLOSER TO PUBLIC

Nalo's Tale

Singapore, 1 March 2012 – For the first time, the Night Safari has launched a blog site to highlight the development of its latest tallest addition – a two-month-old baby giraffe named “Nalo”.

Visitors can now visit http://giraffes.nightsafari.com.sg to watch the progress of the male calf as keepers provide an exclusive look at animal husbandry and care at the world’s first nocturnal zoo. Titled “Nalo’s Tales: Adventures of Night Safari’s Tallest Baby,” the blog will record several of the calf’s first experiences, including his debut in the exhibit, as well as his first solid meal. The blog includes photos, videos and keeper interviews, and is updated weekly.

The baby giraffe will also be making his public ‘appearance’ in a 2.1m-tall baby pram – possibly the tallest in Singapore – at the heart of Orchard Road this Saturday, 3 March 2012, between 12pm to 4.30pm. Shoppers will get to see a replica of the baby giraffe strolling down the shopping district in a pram specially designed for the lanky newborn.

Visitors who wish to meet Nalo in real life can do so by participating in an online contest – “Guess Nalo’s Height” – where winners can win tickets to the Night Safari by guessing Nalo’s latest height on the blog.

Nalo, which means “lovable” in Swahili, is the first giraffe to be born in the Night Safari in three years. Born on December 5 last year, the baby giraffe can now be seen in the exhibit together with his family at Night Safari’s African zone. For more information, visit http://giraffes.nightsafari.com.sg

MEET YOO HOO & FRIENDS – UNIQUE, CUDDLY, AND HIGHLY ENDANGERED!

Singapore, 16 December 2010Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) is taking on a fun – and soft – approach in its latest effort to spread the message of wildlife conservation. The parent company of the Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari and Singapore Zoo, and the upcoming River Safari, has been appointed the exclusive distributor of YooHoo & Friends, a collection of soft plush toys that are cute, huggable and reflective of highly endangered animals in the wild.

Created by Aurora, one of the leading companies for high-end soft toy designs in the global gifts industry, these 8-inch plush creatures come in 33 different animal designs, which depict highly vulnerable species across the globe. These include the Iberian Lynx in Europe, Spectacled Bear in South America, Platypus in Oceania and Japanese Macaque in Asia. Currently, twelve designs have been put on sale at the Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari and Singapore Zoo. These include best-sellers like the Fennec Fox and Fairy Penguin. WRS plans to bring in the other 19 designs in the coming months. They are also retailing at major shopping centers, including Takashimaya, N’BC stationery, BHG, Isetan as well as the Singapore Science Centre and Mount Faber Cable Car Station.

These little wildlife ambassadors have been a big hit with both the young and old, since they were first introduced as plush toys four years ago. There is even a Korean animated series, YooHoo & Friends, which was created to teach children the importance of protecting and conserving the environment.

Said Ms Linda Tan, Assistant Director, Retail, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, “We hope to draw the consumers’ attention to these doe-eyed endangered species, to spark interest and eventually bring the message of conservation in a lovable and fun way to the masses. WRS will be partnering with local departmental stores, retailers and organizations to make these plush toys readily available to the public. We also have plans to go regional by approaching zoos and wildlife parks across Asia to develop new distribution channels and spread the message of wildlife conservation.”

“Children will be drawn to the cuddly features of the toys while teenagers will find the innocent expressions most endearing. Adults will find solace in these small critters as they make ideal stress relievers,” she added.

YooHoo & Friends will make ideal gifts this festive season, particularly for young children as they fulfill international safety standards and specifications, including those set out by the EU Directive for Toy Safety, i.e. Standard EN71, and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Toy Safety.

Consumers and collectors can even look forward to a special Valentine’s Day edition that includes a 28-inch tall Bush Baby plush that will make its debut in January/February 2011. There will also be a limited edition Halloween collection in Q3 of 2011.