Pangolin baby had 50 per cent chance of survival under human care;
Guests can find out more about the elusive creature at park’s upcoming keeper interaction programme

IMAGE 1 (left): Found weak, hungry, and wandering alone at Upper Thomson Road on 22 February this year, the abandoned critically endangered Sunda pangolin was taken to Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s rescued wildlife centre where vets made a desperate attempt to hand-raise him. To encourage his natural behaviour, the baby pangolin is taken for walks every morning and evening. Foraging exercises the critically endangered animal’s keen sense of smell and strong claws.

IMAGE 2 (right): The abandoned baby pangolin was bottle-fed kitten milk replacer (KMR), a substitute for his mother’s milk, before being introduced to ants’ eggs, which he now relishes. Eventually, the pangolin will progress to the captive diet, a protein-rich formula which includes minced beef, ants’ eggs, mealworms and insectivore supplements.


SINGAPORE, 7 April 2016 — Hungrily lapping up ants’ eggs, vigorously burrowing around his play tub and stubbornly clinging on to his caretaker’s arm despite being coaxed off—all heartening signs that the abandoned critically endangered baby Sunda pangolin was flourishing under the doting care of his human foster parents. This was a cause for celebration, for the robust creature today is a far cry from the wisp he had been weeks before.

Found weak, hungry, and wandering alone at Upper Thomson Road on 22 February, the four-month old pangolin was taken to Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s (WRS) rescued wildlife centre where vets made a desperate attempt to hand-raise him—a mammoth task as the delicate species generally does not thrive under human care.

The first and biggest challenge was his diet. While healthy, the baby rejected kitten milk replacer (KMR) as he was used to his mother’s milk. In addition, the scaly anteater was at a crucial point in his life of weaning off milk onto solid food, a diet of ants and termites. This change in diet caused intestinal issues and vets had to provide 24 hour care to the precious, critically endangered baby.

After a precarious one and a half week period, the pangolin proved resilient. He started drinking KMR four times a day and now relishes ants’ eggs. His milk intake has been reduced to twice daily and he is being eased into a specialised diet which the adult pangolins at Night Safari take.

Apart from diet, to encourage his natural behaviour, the baby pangolin is taken for walks every morning and evening on forested grounds. Foraging exercises the critically endangered animal’s keen sense of smell and strong claws.

Having grown from 776g to 1.1kg, the young pangolin’s makeshift quarters was upgraded to accommodate his growth. He now resides in the veterinary ward with a roomy tub for play and rest, complete with a large branch to climb on. When fully grown, a male Sunda pangolin can weigh up to 7.5kg.

Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Chief Life Sciences Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore said, “Successfully raising a Sunda pangolin from such a young age is a real achievement. This critically endangered species has notoriously low survival rates under human care, and this experience has given us invaluable knowledge on how to care for the species.”

Once the baby pangolin is independent and graduates to the captive diet, he will join the seven Sunda pangolins at Night Safari’s Fishing Cat Trail, two of which were born under human care. Night Safari opened the world’s first Sunda pangolin exhibit in 2009.

The Sunda pangolin is listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN* Red List of Threatened Species. Globally, all eight species of pangolins are threatened with extinction as a result of unsustainable illegal trade to supply human consumption and traditional medicine in East Asia. In Singapore, the Sunda pangolin is threatened with habitat loss and motor vehicle accidents. WRS is funding ecological and genetic studies of this species whose natural history is not well understood.

As part of WRS’ efforts to highlight the plight of this dwindling species, Night Safari will begin its new keeper interaction cum feeding programme in mid-May. During the session, a keeper will educate visitors on the pangolin’s history and situation in the wild while pangolin feeding takes place in the exhibit. Due to their secretive nature, few know about the world’s only scaly mammal, so the session will provide rare insights of this creature’s natural behaviour, such as climbing trees and foraging for food.

*IUCN stands for International Union for Conservation of NatureImage 3_Baby pangolin climbs tree_WRS

 IMAGE 3 (left): Learning to climb trees exercises the tree-dwelling Sunda pangolin’s strong claws and semi-prehensile tail (tails which are capable of grasping), which it uses to grip bark and scale trees. Having grown bigger and stronger, he has taken to wrapping his tail around his caregiver’s arm, unwilling to let go.






Image 4_Snoozing baby pangolin_WRS




IMAGE 4 (left): The baby pangolin curls up as he snoozes soundly. He only learnt to curl fully on 3 March 2016, as pictured. Curling up into a tight ball is the pangolin’s best defense against predators but ironically its worst defense against human beings, as it allows poachers to easily pick it up and toss it into a bag.

Image 5_Baby pangolin eats ants eggs_WRS

IMAGE 5 (left): The pangolin’s caregivers add his favourite ants’ eggs to the captive diet to encourage him to take it, but the sneaky baby would pick out just the ants’ eggs and leave the rest untouched.



Night Safari Singapore is home to the world’s first conservation breeding programme
for Sunda pangolins; Experts gather to discuss species conservation efforts

Image 1 (left): Sunda pangolin babies hitch a ride on mom’s tail when they are young. Not much is known about these elusive creatures but Night Safari intends to change that by supporting several projects to learn more about the behaviour and ecology of the world’s only scaly mammal.

Image 2 (right): When threatened, pangolins curl into a ball, making them easy targets for poachers. In the past 10 years alone, it is believed that more than one million pangolins have been illegally traded.

SINGAPORE, 18 February 2016Night Safari is scaling up on efforts to save the world’s most heavily trafficked mammal from extinction, through a number of pangolin conservation and research programmes.

The global trade of pangolins has reached epic proportions and it is believed that more than one million have been traded illegally in the past decade alone. International trade is largely driven by demand in China and Vietnam where pangolins are considered a delicacy and poached extensively for their scales, meat and skin for use in traditional medicine.

World Pangolin Day, which is celebrated on 20 February 2016, aims to raise awareness on the plight of these scaly mammals which are poached more than elephants and rhinos combined. Organised in conjunction with World Pangolin Day, a group of dedicated pangolin conservationists met with the Wildlife Reserve Singapore (WRS) Conservation & Research team in Singapore this week (Tuesday, 16 February 2016) to review the ongoing research efforts for Singapore’s remaining pangolins.

Through its conservation fund, WRS is supporting a number of projects which include tracking pangolins in the wild with radio and GPS tags and training conservation sniffer dogs to help with local and regional field efforts for wild pangolins.

In addition, Night Safari is home to the world’s first conservation breeding programme for the Sunda pangolin which is listed as critically endangered on the IUCN* Red List of Threatened Species. It currently houses seven Sunda pangolins in its protection, two of which were born under human care.

Dr Sonja Luz, Director of Conservation & Research, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said, “The plight facing pangolins is devastating and if we want to win the battle against the illegal wildlife trade, we must educate people and inspire compassion and respect for nature and animals. At WRS, we have made this our mission, and we have the unique opportunity to study and learn more about this elusive animal right at our doorstep.”

She added, “Our local research and conservation efforts contribute to a better understanding of the biology and urban ecology of pangolins. Through our captive breeding efforts, we are able to raise more awareness about the amazing creatures.”
A Singapore pangolin working group consisting local stakeholders has also been formed to gather feedback on outreach and research activities to maximise conservation efforts.

Image 3_Pangolin Book _WRS (smaller)To further reach out to children, WRS has published a book titled ‘Why did the pangolin cross the road?’ (left). This illustrated anecdote is inspired by one of the seven pangolins in Night Safari’s collection, and features English and Mandarin texts.

On World Pangolin Day, Night Safari has lined up two special sessions of Keeper Talks where visitors will have the opportunity to get up close with the park’s Sunda pangolin. The pangolins can be found on the Fishing Cat Trail at Night Safari.


First ever conference by IUCN Pangolin Specialist Group and Wildlife Reserves Singapore to be a global voice in the protection and conservation of pangolins.

Pangolin and young
Pangolin and young

Singapore/London, 19 June 2013 – Wildlife Reserves Singapore and the International Union for Conservation of Nature Species Survival Commission (IUCN-SSC) Pangolin Specialist Group have come together to organise the first ever global conference on the rather shy, nocturnal pangolins which for years have been under threat from poachers for their meat and scales.

Themed ‘Scaling up Pangolin Conservation’, the four day conference from 24 – 27 June held at Night Safari aims to devise an overarching conservation strategy to improve their conservation efforts with specific and measurable initiatives, and to provide input into formal IUCN Red List assessments to reassess their status to further protect the species.

Professor Jonathan Baillie, Conservation Programmes Director at the Zoological Society of London and Co-Chair of the IUCN-SSC Pangolin Specialist Group said, “This is a landmark event in pangolin conservation, we will have 50 researchers from around the world gathered to set a road-map for conserving pangolins over the next decade. Especially important here is formulating ways to reduce demand for pangolins in Asia.”

While they may look like walking pine-cones, pangolins, or scaly-anteaters as they are also known, are one of the most trafficked mammals in Asia, and increasingly, in Africa. Globally, they are illegally traded in their tens of thousands each year.

This trade is primarily to China and Vietnam where they are considered a delicacy and their scales used in traditional medicines. In response to the magnitude of trade and other threats including loss of habitat and ill-considered land management practices, the IUCN-SSC Pangolin Specialist Group, an expert group of pangolin conservationists, was established in February 2012.

“Rapid action is urgently needed if pangolins in Africa and Asia are to be conserved given the rate at which they are being exploited for East Asian luxury markets,” commented Dan Challender, Co-Chair of the IUCN-SSC Pangolin Specialist Group and doctoral candidate at the University of Kent’s Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology.

The inaugural pangolin conference is part of Wildlife Reserves Conservation Fund’s (WRSCF) efforts to conserve endangered native wildlife. Since its inception in 2009, the Fund has supported various projects and conferences.

Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Chief Life Sciences Officer at Wildlife Reserves Singapore said, “For years WRS has been working on helping our critically endangered species locally, via research and captive breeding. We are very pleased to co-organise and host this event, bringing together the foremost pangolin experts in the world, striving to find a strategy that will help this group of unique animals globally.”

To further raise public awareness to the plight faced by the pangolins, a free for public seminar will be held on 28 June from 12.30pm – 4pm at the Forest Lodge in Singapore Zoo with a series of four talks by experts:

  1. Trade in wildlife for meat and medicines pushing Southeast Asian species towards extinction by Chris Shepherd, Acting Regional Director for TRAFFIC in South-East Asia
  2. From the IUCN SSC and new technology for addressing illegal wildlife trade by Jonathan Baillie, Conservation Programmes Director at the Zoological Society of London and Co-Chair of the IUCN-SSC Pangolin Specialist Group
  3. The pangolin trade in Asia by Dan Challender, Co-Chair of the IUCN-SSC Pangolin Specialist Group and doctoral candidate at the University of Kent’s Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology
  4. Pangolins of Singapore: In situ and ex situ conservation efforts by Razak Jaffar, Assistant Curator, Night Safari, Wildlife Reserves Singapore

As there are limited seats to the public seminar available, interested participants are advised to RSVP by 21 June to Yap Xinli at xinli.yap@wrs.com.sg.

Additionally, to extend the message on pangolin conservation even further to the visitors at Night Safari, an outreach programme has been planned. Visitors to Night Safari on 21, 22, 28 and 29 June will be able to hear more about pangolins from the keepers at a short 15minute session starting from 9.15pm at the Pangolin Exhibit along the Fishing Cat Trail. Over the years, Night Safari has fine-tuned captive management of these unassuming creatures and has achieved a global first: The world’s first institution successfully to breed and raise the Sunda pangolin in captivity.

The ‘SCALING UP PANGOLIN CONSERVATION’ CONFERENCE has been made possible thanks to the generous support of Wildlife Reserves Singapore, Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund, the Zoological Society of London, San Antonio Zoo, the Houston Zoo, TRAFFIC and Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong.


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.



Singapore, 10 July 2009Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS/新加坡野生动物保育集团) today launched an independent conservation fund to protect and save Singapore’s native endangered species.

Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund (WRSCF/新加坡野生动物保育基金) is dedicated to wildlife conservation and education. Its focus will be on native animal conservation efforts and the issue of climate change. Additionally, it will support the Ah Meng Memorial Conservation Fund, set up in conjunction with the National University of Singapore.

This will be achieved through direct field conservation work, education and public awareness, human-animal conflict resolution, capacity building and sharing of best practices.

“Singapore’s rich biodiversity is home to a lush variety of flora and fauna, including the pangolin, flying lemur and banded langur. Unfortunately, many Singaporeans are unaware of what wildlife can be found locally and even when informed, they tend to take these animals for granted. We would like to encourage more organisations and individuals to join us in preserving our natural heritage. In support of conservation, WRS has made a contribution of S$1,000,000 in seed money to the Fund,” says Ms Claire Chiang (张齐娥), newly appointed Chairperson of the WRSCF.

In addition, WRS has started contributing 20 cents from every entrance ticket sold to any of its three parks – Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari and the Singapore Zoo. This will anchor the funds for the WRSCF. Public donations are also welcome.

The first recipient is the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Ah Meng Memorial Conservation Fund, which will receive S$500,000 over five years. This will support the academic research and study of endangered native wildlife undertaken by students and faculty members of NUS.

“We are honoured to be the first recipient of the fund as it definitely helps in furthering our cause to learn and gather information on data deficient animals. It is our duty as Singaporeans to seek new facts and records of our wildlife, and in the process train and develop future local conservationists,” says Professor Leo Tan (陈伟兴教授), Director (Special Projects), National University of Singapore. The first project to receive funding from the NUS’ Ah Meng Memorial Conservation Fund is a study on the banded langur, one of Singapore’s native endangered wildlife.

WRSCF will also be partnering with NGOs such as the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) of New York, to advance public education and awareness. Some of the issues that will be addressed include the illegal wildlife and bushmeat trade, that Singaporeans may unknowingly contribute to when they consume exotic dishes while overseas.

Individuals and organisations will soon be able to submit project proposals to WRSCF. Funding support will be subjected to approval by an independent Specialist Panel comprising professionals from National Parks Board (NParks), Agri-food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), National Institute of Education (NIE), NUS, Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research (RMBR), Nature Society of Singapore (NSS) and Singapore Science Centre.

Cheque Presentation
Time-capsule sealing



Singapore, June 30, 2008Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) and TRAFFIC Southeast Asia jointly organised a three-day pangolin conservation workshop to be held at the Singapore Zoo, starting today, to discuss the perilous situation facing pangolin populations in Asia, as its survival comes under increasing threat.

Pangolins are poached for their meat, consumed as food and used in traditional medicines across the region. Its numbers in the wild are dwindling rapidly in Asia with regular seizures by the authorities in Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. A majority of the shipments resulting from illegal poaching are destined for China.

“WRS is extremely fortunate to have been instrumental in bringing together key-decision makers and conservationists from 14 countries and territories around the region, to discuss and make recommendations that will hopefully secure and protect the future of pangolins in the wild. Through our collaboration with TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, we are able to approach the issue of illegal pangolin trade, from a more comprehensive conservation perspective, that includes both enforcement and legislative angles. Our main hope is to catalyse the region into seriously conserving one of the most unique species of biodiversity which we call our own, and to ensure that this cascades into actionable initiatives in the pangolin’s range countries.” said Ms Fanny Lai, Group CEO, Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

Pangolins, or scaly anteaters, are the most numerous mammal species found in confiscated illegal wildlife cargoes throughout Southeast Asia. In 2000, a complete ban on international trade of pangolins was adopted by Parties to CITES.

The three-day workshop will discuss issues and challenges of pangolin trade enforcement in Asia, conservation, its ecology and biology as well as husbandry and management in zoological institutions.

Workshop participants reflect the diversity of the problems and threats facing pangolins, and represent government as well as non-governmental agencies responsible for wildlife trade management coming from as far as China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Brunei, Laos and Singapore. During the workshop, participants will also develop an action plan to help relevant enforcement agencies focus their efforts to halt the illegal pangolin trade.

Participants’ recommendations will be sent to the CITES Secretariat, the International Criminal Police Organisation (ICPO)-Interpol, the World Customs Organisation (WCO) and national focal points of the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN), to ensure a coherent approach to information and intelligence sharing on pangolin trade in the region.

“This meeting is vital to the future survival of pangolins. It is now or never for pangolins. The poaching simply has to stop,” said Ms Azrina Abdullah, Director of TRAFFIC Southeast Asia.

In February and March 2008 alone, a staggering 23 tonnes of pangolin carcasses and scales, the remains of approximately 8,000 animals—were seized in Hai Phong, Vietnam, in a single week.

The commonest species currently in trade is believed to be the Malayan pangolin (Manis javanica), found in Malaysia and Indonesia; populations elsewhere in Asia have been decimated. Recent pangolin seizures have even involved African species.

In China, tough penalties can be imposed on pangolin smugglers, with two men receiving suspended death sentences in November 2007 and fined a total of RMB3 million (USD400,000) whilst their accomplices received jail sentences ranging between 10 years and life.



Singapore, May 16, 2008 – The total number of animals donated to the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari rose to 460 in 2007, a sharp increase from the 118 animals donated in 2006. Jurong Bird Park received a total of 177 donations in 2007.

The majority of these were either brought in by the police or confiscated by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA). Confiscations from AVA constituted a seven-fold jump from 25 to 175, over the previous year. The animals were mainly reptiles, and included star tortoises, green iguanas, fly-river turtles and Southeast Asian soft-shell turtles.

Donated animals are quarantined upon arrival, to prevent the potential spread of diseases to the rest of the parks’ animal collection. During the quarantine period, the animals are cared for and administered by the parks’ team of vets and keepers. The team inspects the animals for signs of injury and illness and provide them with a diet comprising appropriate food, nutritional supplements and medication, if necessary.

The need to feed and care for donated animals is a responsibility that the Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) institutions take in their stride. Designated as Singapore’s official wildlife rescue centres, the Jurong BirdPark, Night Safari and Singapore Zoo are able to provide expert specialist care to a spectrum of exotic animals that enter the facilities. Over the last three decades, WRS parks have cared for and rescued more than 10,000 animals from all over the world, including Singapore.

The expertise to provide this assistance comes with years of experience in handling over 4,000 animals and 7,000 birds on a daily basis through the running of the three parks. WRS enjoy excellent relations and maintain constant communication with zoological institutions all over the world to keep abreast of the latest veterinary know-how. Staff are regularly sent on numerous overseas learning attachments, ensuring we are able to deal with anything from tarantulas to orang utans.

Ms Fanny Lai, CEO of Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said, “We see many cases each year of exotic animals brought in and subsequently abandoned when the host family realises they do not have the necessary skills or resources to care for them. These animals can be extremely difficult to upkeep and I strongly urge members of the public and animal lovers not to buy or raise exotic animals as pets.”

Management of donated animals
WRS’ parks manage these donations and confiscations in a variety of ways. Integration into the parks’ animal collection is one method. For example, a 2-week old slow loris that was donated by the public in August 2007 was hand-raised and is now in Night Safari’s collection. Slow lorises are listed on CITES Appendix I, which means trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.

In August 2007, a total of 139 confiscated Southeast Asian soft-shell turtles were brought in. Thirty-two had to be euthanased and 107 housed in Singapore Zoo. Of these, 61 are now surviving and the population have since stabilised. These turtles are on CITES Appendix II, which includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilisation incompatible with their survival. Also listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, these turtles are considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.

Native wildlife that were donated to the parks, such as the pangolins, have been microchipped, rehabilitated and released back into the wild. Some exotic animals have also been repatriated to the various countries of origin or to other zoo collections to participate in breeding programmes. For example, 15 star tortoises were sent to Lisbon Zoo for display and breeding purposes in March this year. Another donated slow loris will be making its way to Augsburg Zoo in Germany this June. Two male-female pairs of white-handed gibbons were sent to Canada and Sri Lanka respectively in 2006. Two thousand star tortoises were sent back to India in 2002 and 15 shingle-back skinks, a green tree python and a crocodile skink were sent to Detroit Zoo for re-homing and breeding purposes.

WRS would like to urge the public not to import or keep exotic animals as pets. To reiterate, under The Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act (ESA) it is an offence to import and export any endangered species without a permit from AVA. It is also an offence to possess, sell, offer or expose for sale, or display to the public any of these species, if it has been illegally imported. Any person or company caught violating the ESA is liable to be prosecuted in Court and fined up to a maximum of S$50,000 for each animal or plant, and/or imprisoned for a term up to 2 years.