GIANT PANDAS INTRODUCED TO NEW HOME AFTER COMPLETING MONTH-LONG QUARANTINE

Singapore, 11 October 2012 – Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) today announced that giant pandas, Kai Kai (凯凯) and Jia Jia (嘉嘉) have completed their one-month quarantine on 6 October and are now being introduced to their new home, the Giant Panda Forest at River Safari.

The upcoming weeks will see River Safari’s zoology team, headed by Assistant Director of Zoology, Ang Cheng Chye, introducing Kai Kai and Jia Jia to their climate-controlled habitat in the Giant Panda Forest. The 1,500 square-metre exhibit – the largest in Southeast Asia – simulates the bears’ natural habitat, with lush live plants, boulders and water features. The temperature is kept between 18-22 degrees Celsius year round and humidity is set at 50-60 per cent to ensure the pandas’ comfort. The habitat’s specifications exceed those set by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Keepers will be placing the bears’ favourite food – bamboos – in various locations in the exhibit to encourage them to explore their new surroundings. The bears’ duration in the new exhibit will be extended progressively to give ample time for them to familiarise themselves and be comfortable.

WRS’ veterinary team had previously given the giant pandas a clean bill of health after a thorough medical examination on 20 September. Both Kai Kai and Jia Jia have been feeding on locally-grown bamboos such as sulphur and Siamese bamboo a day after their arrival on 6 September.

Visitors can look forward to visiting Kai Kai and Jia Jia at the giant panda exhibit this December. Details of the opening of the Giant Panda Forest will be provided at a later stage.

Giant panda Kai Kai munches on bamboo
Jia Jia explores her new home in the Giant Panda Forest

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

AN ICY NEW HOME FOR INUKA AND SHEBA IN THE WORKS

NEW HABITAT FOR SINGAPORE’S POLAR BEARS WILL BE THREE AND A HALF TIMES BIGGER AND FEATURE INNOVATIVE CLIMATE-CONTROLLED FEATURES

Singapore, 27 August 2010River Safari, Asia’s first river-themed wildlife park, today released details of the new home of Singapore’s beloved polar bears, Inuka and Sheba. The 1,400 sq metre habitat will be three and a half times the size of the existing one, featuring indoor and outdoor areas from which the public can see the great white carnivores, and pools for the bears to swim in.

The polar bears’ new home will be housed within River Safari’s Frozen Tundra exhibit, which aims to educate visitors on the importance of glaciers and semi-frozen freshwater ecosystems, amongst the most threatened of the world’s biomes.

The polar bear dens and indoor areas will be climate controlled, with temperatures that simulate the Arctic north. Three viewing elevations will be available for visitors, including the hugely popular underwater view, and visitors can admire the animals through windows cut into frozen rocks.

Modelled closely after their natural habitat, Inuka and Sheba’s new home is part of WRS’ commitment in upgrading these bears’ living space. In 2006, the Animal Welfare and Ethics Committee (AWEC) decided that it was in the polar bears’ best interest for them to remain in Singapore. This decision was reached after considering the animal’s ages, their familiarity with their keepers and environment, and the uncertainty of whether other facilities would be able to provide the same high level of care that Inuka and Sheba are used to. It was also at this time that WRS started the conceptualisation of the Frozen Tundra exhibit, to further upgrade the polar bears’ habitat.

Native to the Arctic Circle, polar bears are the world’s largest land carnivore and adult males can weigh up to 650 to 700 kg. Classified as vulnerable by the IUCN, the bear occupies a narrow ecological niche and preys almost exclusively on seals. Polar bears hunt mostly on ice floes in winter months and retreating sea ice due to global warming has resulted in the diminishing of their hunting grounds and food sources. If global temperatures continue to rise, polar bears may become extinct across most of their range within a hundred years.

Some of the innovative features of Frozen Tundra include “ice rocks” where our polar bears can soak in the coolness of “freezed” rocks and also an ice cave where both Sheba and Inuka can retire to, so as to enjoy a polar siesta. The new habitat also incorporates a large freezer unit able to produce huge blocks of ice as enrichment for the bears. Natural substrates, trees, and also pools and streams will be incorporated, to provide the bears with a rich and varied home.

As construction begins on the Frozen Tundra exhibit, the polar bear enclosure at the Singapore Zoo will be closed from 30 August 2010. Inuka and Sheba look forward to seeing everyone again in 2012 with the opening of River Safari.

Visitors to the polar bear enclosure will enter through the maw of an ice cave
Visitors can sit and admire the polar bears as they enjoy their climate-controlled exhibit
Visitors can view Inuka and Sheba swimming in their icy pools through windows cut into frozen rock
Inuka and Sheba have special ice caves, waterfalls and icy pools to enjoy