WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE MARKS NEW CHAPTER OF GROWTH WITH LAUNCH OF RIVER SAFARI

GROUND-BREAKING CEREMONY FOR ASIA’S FIRST RIVER-THEMED WILDLIFE PARK TO BE HELD TODAY

Singapore, 21 May 2010Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), the parent company of award-winning attractions Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari, Singapore Zoo and the upcoming River Safari, celebrates a significant milestone today with the ground-breaking of Asia’s first river-themed wildlife park.

River Safari, which will be the world’s largest repository of fresh water animals and many critically endangered animals like the giant panda, marks a new chapter of growth for the 10-year-old company, bringing it closer to its vision of being the foremost wildlife institution in the world.

WRS’ three attractions – Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari and Singapore Zoo – attracted 3.6 million visitors in 2009, and the numbers have been growing every year. These parks rank among the best leisure destinations in Singapore and are well-known for their successful captive breeding programmes for endangered species such as the Bali mynah, Asian elephant and orang utan.

“We aim to offer the best wildlife experience in Asia and part of this effort is the expansion of our unique product offerings,” said Ms Claire Chiang, WRS’ Chair. “Being a first in Asia, River Safari will not only bring the rich biodiversity of the freshwater systems around the world right to our doorstep, it will be home to many endangered and threatened species, which we hope to preserve through our captive breeding programmes.”

River Safari is expected to draw at least 820,000 visitors annually. The 12-hectare park located between the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari in Mandai, is scheduled to open in the first half of 2012, and will house one of the world’s largest collections of freshwater aquatic animals, with more than 300 plant species, 500 animal species and over 5,000 individual animal specimens.

Comprising boat rides and displays of freshwater habitats of the famous rivers of the world like the Mississippi, Congo, Nile, Ganges, Murray, Mekong and Yangtze, the River Safari will provide a close-up, multi-sensory experience for visitors. For example, the indigenous wildlife at the Amazon River will be showcased at the Amazon Flooded Forest exhibit, which will be home to deadly river creatures like the anaconda and electric eel, as well as the elusive giant river otter, one of the most endangered animals in South America.

One of the star attractions – the giant pandas – will live in a specially designed, climate-controlled exhibit along the “Yangtze River”. Different species of bamboo, which is the panda’s staple diet, will be planted throughout this 1,600 sqm landscaped enclosure. Sheba and Inuka, the Singapore Zoo’s pair of mother-and-son polar bears, will also have a new home at River Safari’s Frozen Tundra, which comprises over 1,400 sqm of living space that will mirror conditions in the Arctic. Other animals like the tanuki, a raccoon dog native to Japan, will join the polar bears at this new exhibit, which will feature permafrost, frozen caves, and icy pools of water.

“Biodiversity in freshwater habitats is disappearing at a faster rate than marine and forest environments. By bringing visitors up close to the fascinating underwater animals and terrestrial animals that live in such ecosystems, we aim to highlight how our survival is dependent on their well-being,” said Ms Fanny Lai, WRS’ Group CEO. “We expect people to be awed by many of these strange and interesting fresh water creatures including the ‘giants’ of river habitats. These include the giant catfish and the giant freshwater stingray from Mekong river, giant river otters from Amazon river; and not forgetting the giant pandas from China. All of these charismatic animals are disappearing at an alarming rate due to habitat destruction.

The ground-breaking ceremony this morning will be held at one of the actual development sites fronting the reservoir and will be graced by Mr S Iswaran, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, and Education.

WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE BUILDS RIVER SAFARI, ASIA’S FIRST RIVER-THEMED ANIMAL ATTRACTION

S$140 MILLION PROJECT SCHEDULED FOR COMPLETION IN 2011

Singapore, February 11, 2009Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) plans to build a river-themed animal attraction that will contribute to Singapore’s tourism landscape and enhance the range of excellent nature-themed attractions in Singapore.

Located within the 89-hectare compound of the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari premises, this attraction will be Asia’s first river-themed park. Comprising boat rides, displays of freshwater habitats and other highlights, it will offer a close-up multi-sensory experience for the young and old.

The project is expected to inject S$140 million into Singapore’s economy. Construction will begin in 2009, and the park is targeted for completion in 2011. The new park is estimated to attract at least 750,000 visitors annually.

Strong message of conservation
Says Ms Fanny Lai, Group CEO, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, “The aim of River Safari is to create a greater awareness of freshwater habitat conservation. Freshwater habitats are ecosystems that depend on water flow for their environmental health, and can include caves, swamps, floodplains, rivers and lakes. The term ‘wetlands’ is often used to describe these rich habitats, which carry the most species per unit. However, their biodiversity is disappearing at a faster rate than the forest and marine biomes, with a reported 50% decline in the freshwater species population index in 30 years since 1970. The River Safari attraction will educate visitors on the conservation of fresh water habitats, and also introduce them to the ecosystem’s interesting water wildlife. It will also complement our current collection at our other three parks.

“We started working on this idea about two years ago and we believe this is an opportune time to embark on this project.”

Built with Environmental Sensitivity
As the attraction is located within its current 89 hectare compound, the new development will have minimal impact on the Mandai Nature Reserve area. WRS team had earlier consulted the various government bodies such as NParks and PUB on the environmental viability of the project. For example, it carried out a survey to identify the trees that will be affected by the development. Instead of felling the trees, it is carefully preparing the process of relocating them. In addition to this, WRS plans to plant more than 30,000 new trees in this attraction. Some of the current animal exhibits will be relocated to make way for this attraction. WRS will also acquire new species of animals to reside in the various habitats through animal exchange programmes with other zoological institutions.