NIGHT SAFARI CELEBRATES A RARE FIRST WITH THE BIRTH OF TWO CLOUDED LEOPARDS

Singapore, 29 June 2011Night Safari, the world’s first wildlife park for nocturnal animals, recently celebrated the first birth of its clouded leopards, an endangered wild cat. The arrival of the pair of cubs is a major achievement for Night Safari as clouded leopards are notoriously difficult to breed. The high frequency of aggression between the two genders of the beautifully patterned predator sometimes results in the death of the female during mating in wild populations.

Named for the cloud-like spots on its coat, the clouded leopard is a medium-sized wild cat found primarily in lowland tropical rainforest habitats throughout Southeast Asia, Nepal and southern China. Listed as ‘vulnerable’ under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list of threatened species, little is known about the behavior or population numbers of the wild species because of their enigmatic nature.

The parents of the new arrivals, father Tawan and mother Wandee, arrived from Thailand’s Khao Kheow Open Zoo two years ago. Since then, keepers at the Night Safari have been hoping to kick start a breeding programme between the two and has been waiting for them to reach breeding age.

Mr Kumar Pillai, Director of Zoology at Night Safari said: “The park has been studying various ways of increasing the success rate of captive breeding of clouded leopards for some time now, such as introducing the pair at an early age to promote bonding and lessen aggression. We have also paired an older female with a younger male as she will be more experienced and capable of defending herself. We are very pleased that our efforts have paid off with the birth of not just one, but two clouded leopard cubs.”

Wild populations of clouded leopards are fast declining as a result of the loss of habitat and are highly sought after in the illegal wildlife trade for their skin and bones. Globally, there are fewer than an estimated 10,000 mature individuals in the wild, with no single population numbering more than 1,000.

This further increases the pressure on wildlife institutions to establish viable captive breeding programmes.

The Night Safari is run by Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), which also operates award winning parks Jurong Bird Park, Singapore Zoo and the upcoming river-themed wildlife park, River Safari. All three parks are actively involved in the captive breeding of endangered species and take part in coordinated global breeding programmes with reputable zoological institutions around the world. To date, WRS has successfully bred endangered wildlife such as the Bali Mynah, white rhinoceros and the Red-shanked douc langur.

NIGHT SAFARI WELCOMES FIRST BABY ELEPHANT IN NINE YEARS

Singapore, 3 December 2010Night Safari, the world’s first wildlife park for nocturnal animals, was the birth place of a baby giant recently. The first elephant to be born in nine years, it arrived on 23 November 2010 at an auspicious time of 8.08am.

Considered large for a newborn at 1.5 times the average size, the 151-kg calf arrived after 3 hours of labour, making it the fifth elephant to be born at the Night Safari. His mother, Nandong, is 25 years old and is also the mother of the previous two elephant babies – Sang Raja which is currently in Cologne Zoo and nine-year-old Sang Wira which still resides at the Night Safari. The baby elephant is sired by Chawang, the only bull elephant in Night Safari and Singapore Zoo’s collection of Asian elephants. The birth brings the total number of Asian elephants at Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), parent company of Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari, Singapore Zoo and the upcoming River Safari, to 11.

The active calf, which has yet to be named, is already developing a character of its own. While most baby elephants stick close to their mothers in the early stages, zookeepers have noticed that this brave little one likes to wander from his mother to explore his surroundings.

“These elephants have such unique personalities. They are highly intelligent and self- aware,” said Mr Kumar Pillai, Director, Zoology, Night Safari. “We have been fortunate enough to witness 5 elephant births at our parks, as there can be a 4-5 year interval before a female will breed again. Her pregnancy lasts about 22 months, and she will not mate until the first calf is weaned, and this takes up to 2-3 years.”

Asian elephants are endangered – even more so than their better recognised counterpart, the African elephant – with an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 left in the wild. They are found in the forests of India, Sri Lanka, Laos, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia. Many of them are widely domesticated and are used for forestry, harvesting, or ceremonial purposes.

Habitat loss poses the most serious threat to the future of these magnificent creatures, as a large part of their native homes are being logged and cleared for urban and agricultural development.

WRS has a very successful captive breeding programme and has bred other endangered animals such as the pangolin, Malayan sun bear, the orang utans and many others.

For a video on the birth of the elephant, please click here. The video shows the mother giving birth to the baby and the natural process of the adult elephants removing the amniotic bladder from the newborn.

The young 151-kg calf is the fifth elephant to be born in the Night Safari.
Nandong, the 25-year-old mother, watches closely as the team of zookeepers and vets from Wildlife Reserves Singapore weighs the calf.