SINGAPORE ZOO PIONEERS BREAKTHROUGH TREATMENT OF KOMODO DRAGON

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WOUND-HEALING THERAPY NORMALLY USED ON HUMANS HEALS MOTHER KOMODO

Singapore, 17 June 2010 – The Singapore Zoo, one of the four wildlife parks managed by Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), including the first river-themed attraction River Safari, has made veterinary history by undertaking Vacuum Assisted Closure® Therapy on a reptile in captivity. Yoko, one of the Zoo’s three komodo dragons, recently became the first reptile to receive a breakthrough treatment commonly used to promote wound healing in humans.

Yoko, the proud mother of the Zoo’s first successfully hatched Komodo dragon bred in Asia, outside of native Indonesia, had sustained a 16cm injury to her back while incubating a second batch of eggs last November. While laying her eggs in an underground burrow, Yoko wedged herself in a crevice of the cave and as a result, sustained abrasions to her dorsal or spinal region. The damaged tissue surrounding the injury started to degenerate and slough off leaving an open wound that was exposed to possible infection.

A team of experts at the Zoo’s Wildlife Healthcare and Research Centre, including surgeons from the Department of Hand & Reconstructive Microsurgery and the Division of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery, National University Hospital (NUH), vets and keepers, was quickly mobilised to treat Yoko.

Said Dr Serena Oh, Assistant Director, Veterinary, WRS: “We kept infection at bay with daily manuka honey dressings and antibiotics. A major challenge was the nature of the Komodo dragon’s skin. It does not have a subcutaneous layer of tissue that lies immediately below the top layer of vertebrate skin that would allow us to create a local skin flap to cover the wound. We needed a solution to generate tissue growth quickly with zero risk of infection”.

After consultation with several medical experts in the region, the team decided to use the V.A.C. Therapy System from KCI. Vacuum Assisted Closure®, or V.A.C.® Therapy has been clinically proven to treat serious or complex wounds through the use of negative pressure. The negative pressure creates a unique wound healing environment that has been shown to promote the wound healing process, reduce edema, prepare the wound bed for closure, promote the formation of granulation tissue and remove infectious materials.

According to Dr Lee Shu Jin, Consultant, Division of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery at NUH treating Yoko, V.A.C.® Therapy has been used worldwide to treat over 3 million human patients, but this was the first time it had been used on a reptile, particularly a Komodo dragon. She said: “Reptiles normally heal very slowly but we are very happy to report that Yoko made great progress in her recovery with V.A.C.® Therapy. She was also eating and moving normally throughout the entire process.”

Ms Fanny Lai, WRS Group CEO, said, “The successful treatment of Yoko was a result of teamwork between our veterinary and consultant expertise and the keepers. It was also made possible with our excellent clinical facilities at the Wildlife Healthcare and Research Centre. The veterinary team is responsible for the health of almost 4,000 animals at Singapore Zoo and Night Safari. Our demonstrated capabilities in wildlife medical treatment put us in the lead as a regional centre of excellence for wildlife veterinary healthcare and research in conserving global biodiversity.”

As part of an on-going tripartite collaboration between the Singapore Zoo, Lisbon Zoo in Portugal and Ueno Zoo in Japan, the Singapore Zoo is expecting yet another successful Komodo dragon hatching. On 11 November last year, the Zoo collected another viable egg that was laid by Yoko. The incubation period of Komodo dragons is usually nine months. The recent viable egg collected is likely to hatch sometime in August this year.

Meanwhile, the first young Komodo dragon, which hatched on 15 November 2009, is now close to seven months old. It is approximately 50cm in length, which is five times its size at birth. Weaned on a diet of pinkies (young mice), the little dragon’s diet is gradually changing to include small furred mice and strips of beef dusted with calcium.

An injured Yoko

The V.A.C.® in action

Yoko is almost healed


The Komodo dragon hatchling at 5 months old

KONNICHIWA TANUKIS!

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WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE WELCOMES ITS FIRST PAIR OF RACCOON DOGS

Singapore, 23 April 2010Wildlife Reserves Singapore, the parent company of award-winning attractions Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari and Singapore Zoo and the upcoming River Safari, recently welcomed its first pair of tanukis from Asahimaya Zoo, Japan. Tanukis are a subspecies of raccoon dogs native to Japan, and these beautiful canids mark the first animal exchange between WRS and Asahimaya Zoo under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the two parties last year.

To celebrate the partnership and welcome the tanukis, a gala dinner was hosted by Asahiyama Zoo and Wildlife Reserves Singapore last night. Notable guests included HE Mr Makoto Yamanaka, Ambassador of Japan to Singapore and Ms Fanny Lai, Group CEO of Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

Named Pom and Poko, the tanukis will be housed at a permanent exhibit in the upcoming River Safari, Asia’s first river-themed park. Significant to the Japanese culture, these beautiful animals have been a part of the country’s folklore since ancient times. Unfortunately, the tanukis’ silky coat has attracted the unwanted attention of furriers, and they have been commercially farmed since 1928. Even today, raccoon dogs are reportedly bred in cruel conditions and are often skinned alive. The practice has led to global campaigns against the use of raccoon dog fur in fashion.

The raccoon dog gets its name from its resemblance to the unrelated raccoon, and is native to East Asia. They were introduced into parts of Europe for hunting purposes in the early to mid-nineteen hundreds and are now considered an invasive species.

Pom, the male raccoon dog exploring his new home in Singapore

Poko, the female raccoon dog, resting during her quarantine period. They have long torsos and short legs with ears that protrude only slightly outside of their thick fur.

Courtesy of Bjorn Olesen - The raccoon dog is a member of the canid family and is indigenous to east Asia. Japanese raccoon dogs are known to produce sounds higher in pitch, sounding similar to cats.

WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE SIGNS MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING WITH ASAHIYAMA ZOO, JAPAN

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Singapore, March 1, 2009Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) and Asahikawa City Asahiyama Zoological Park Wildlife Conservation Center (Asahiyama Zoo), Japan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) today for the common objectives of conservation, education and appreciation of wildlife.

Sharing similar goals, both parties will endeavour to undertake conservation and research projects, which will include in-situ work, habitat protection, public education and awareness, and other conservation efforts. Further to conservation and research, both zoos will also facilitate cultural exchanges.

“Wildlife Reserves Singapore is pleased that we have a partner in Asahiyama Zoo. Through this collaboration, we hope to share best practice in all areas of zoo management, improve the genetic diversity of zoo animals through animal exchange and promote the appreciation and understanding of each others cultural and natural heritage,” said Ms Fanny Lai, Group CEO Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

“This MOU provides an excellent opportunity for both parties to learn and further the research and conservation efforts of animals, both in Northeast Asia as well as Southeast Asia. We look forward to working on our first project together,” said Mr Masao Kosuge, director, Asahiyama Zoo.

The MOU between Wildlife Reserves Singapore and Asahiyama Zoo marks the commitment by both parties towards conservation.

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