KONNICHIWA TANUKIS!

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 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.