Lovingly raised by human caregivers as a calf, Canola makes a big splash with her special story; June is Manatee Madness month at River Safari with new behind-the-scenes tour with Canola

Left: Canola, the first manatee to be hand-raised by keepers in River Safari, is now the park’s animal icon who will act as the wildlife ambassador for her kind and threatened animal species in the wild.
Right: For the month of June, guests to River Safari can sign up for a special behind-the-scenes tour with Canola, where they can observe how aquarists feed baby manatees and conduct operant conditioning with Canola.

SINGAPORE, 25 May 2016 – Canola the manatee has a dramatic life story, to say the least. Abandoned as a calf, her keepers came to the newborn’s rescue to ensure her survival. Today, barely two years old, her fortunes have taken another upswing as Canola is named the animal icon of River Safari.

Born 6 August 2014, Canola was abandoned by her mother. Without her mother’s milk, the infant’s life was in serious danger. To give her a chance at survival, River Safari’s aquarists dived in to render round-the-clock care for the newborn. Canola had to be bottle-fed every two to three hours during the first three months of her life. 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.

Canola was successfully reintroduced to the manatee herd under the doting care and great team effort of her human caregivers in 2014, and can now be seen swimming along with the herd in the world’s largest freshwater aquarium—River Safari’s Amazon Flooded Forest.

In her new role as River Safari’s animal icon, Canola will be the wildlife ambassador for her species and all threatened wildlife in the wild. River Safari is home to 14 West Indian manatees, six of which are male while the rest are female. 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 of manatees, River Safari hopes to contribute to the species’ population. Over 10 manatees have been born in Singapore. The park has plans to repatriate two manatees to Guadeloupe in the Caribbean as part of a breeding programme to repopulate the region where wild manatees have become extinct for the past 100 years.
Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Life Sciences Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said, “Canola is the first manatee hand-raised by aquarists in River Safari. To ensure her health and wellbeing, her keepers have maintained a very close bond with her through ongoing medical training sessions. By making Canola an icon and ambassador animal, we hope her life story will inspire our guests to join in our conservation efforts to save threatened freshwater wildlife.”

As a hand-raised manatee, Canola is accustomed to close contact with humans. Guests at River Safari can get an up-close encounter with Canola over the June holidays if they sign up for a special behind-the-scenes tour. Aquarists will demonstrate how they hand-raise baby manatees, and work with Canola on operant conditioning exercises where the manatee is trained to roll over for medical procedures such as injections and ultrasound scans.

Mr Keith So, Deputy Head Aquarist, River Safari, said, “Canola has a special place in our hearts. Despite having a rough start to her life, she has developed a very gentle, kind and patient nature. It was a unanimous decision to select her as our animal icon.”
In line with Canola’s new role as River Safari’s animal icon, a series of illustrations which depict various facets of her personality has been developed. These capture her in different poses and should endear Canola to people of all ages.





Left: Canola the manatee is River Safari’s new animal icon and a series of illustrations depicting various facets of her personality has been developed.


On weekends from 4 to 26 June, members of the public can join Manatee Madness in River Safari, which offers a series of manatee-themed activities, a manatee mascot meet-and-greet and an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour with Canola.

Dates: 11, 19, 25 June 2016
Time: 9.30am to 11.00am
Maximum capacity: 20pax
Fee: $18 per pax
Note: This tour is open to sign ups only and subject to availability. Admission charges of $30 per adult, $20 per child (3 to 12 years old), and $15 per senior citizen (above 60 years old) apply

To sign up for the tour, visit Signups open on 31 May 2016.

Dates: 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26 June 2016 (weekends only)
Time: 10.00am to 7.00pm (various timings)
Venue: River Safari (activities at various locations around the park)
Fee: Activities are free but admission charges of $30 per adult, $20 per child (3 to 12 years old), and $15 per senior citizen (above 60 years old) apply
For more information on Manatee Madness, visit

manatee madness



New icon is closely related to Singapore Zoo’s well-known orangutan; Eighth instalment of popular run will span weekend of 27 and 28 February 2016

Safari Zoo Run 2016 participants will be able to catch a glimpse of the new Ah Meng when they take part in this year’s instalment of the wildly popular run on 27 and 28 February. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Singapore, 8 January 2016 – A new queen of the wild will look upon the human race at Safari Zoo Run 2016 in Singapore Zoo and reign as the much-awaited animal icon.

Ah Meng, Singapore Zoo’s beloved Sumatran orangutan who passed away in February 2008, left behind six descendants, one of whom has been identified as the new Singapore Zoo icon. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

The passing of Ah Meng, Singapore Zoo’s famous matriarch and one of Singapore’s most adored personalities, in 2008 left a void in the hearts of many animal lovers and regular zoo visitors. All orangutans in Singapore are commonly referred to as “Ah Meng”. In her memory, the Safari Zoo Run was conceived in 2009.

Ahead of the Safari Zoo Run 2016, Singapore Zoo has identified the orangutan that reign and continue Ah Meng’s legacy.

The upcoming icon is said to share some similarities with her famous predecessor, like a penchant for durians, a big heart for her family, and endearing eyes.  More nuggets about her personality will be shared when the date for Safari Zoo Run draws near.

Safari Zoo Run, Singapore’s wildest race, returns with competitive and family-oriented runs during the weekend of 27 and 28 February 2016. Avid runners can look forward to 10km and 5.5km races while families looking to bond over a healthy walk amidst nature can enjoy a more leisurely pace with the 5.5km or 2.5km family dashes.

The races will transport runners past animal exhibits through scenic paths lined by greenery in Night Safari and Singapore Zoo. A host of carnival festivities awaits family participants after their race, with cheeky animal mascots, educational show and tell sessions, and animal photography opportunities.

The run aims to encourage family bonding and raise awareness on wildlife conservation, with a part of the proceeds going towards aiding the conservation efforts of Singapore Zoo and Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

Each participant will receive exclusive Safari Zoo Run apparel and other attractive goodies including Singapore Zoo and River Safari admission, discount vouchers to Jurong Bird Park and Night Safari, and exclusive F&B and retail offers. In addition, all runners will walk away with an exclusive animal-motif finisher medal.

Registration closes on 31 January 2016. For more information, log on to

Details at a glance
Dates and times:
Safari Zoo 10km Challenge / 5.5km Family Run
27 February 2015 (Saturday)
Races    :  7.30am – 12.00pm

Safari Zoo 5km Challenge / 2.5km Kids Dash / 2.5km Family Dash
28 February 2015 (Sunday)
Races    : 7.30am – 12.00pm

Venue:    Night Safari and Singapore Zoo
80 Mandai Lake Road
Singapore 729826