JURONG BIRD PARK RELEASES RESCUED HONEY BUZZARD INTO THE WILD

Singapore, 05 August 2010 – It’s time for a honey buzzard to fly back home to North Asia, after the Jurong Bird Park rescued and treated it since January this year. The park, which is the world’s largest bird park and one of four wildlife attractions by Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), the others being Night Safari, Singapore Zoo and the upcoming River Safari, has been treating and releasing native and migrant birds back into the wild as part of conservation efforts.

The eastern honey buzzard was found by a member of the public along the beach. The Bird Park was called as the bird appeared weak. Upon examination by the park’s vets, it was diagnosed that the bird was suffering from crop stasis, which is a condition when the crop, a pouch in the esophagus stops emptying food from it, resulting in the crop becoming distended with fermenting food and fluid. The honey buzzard’s crop became swollen as food did not move from the crop down into the bird’s first stomach. Surgical removal of the crop’s contents was performed by the vets to relieve the discomfort to the honey buzzard. They found out that the bird had eaten cooked chicken meat, onions and garlic. After surgery, the bird was tube-fed for a period of time on a liquid diet.

Having been in a stable condition for some time, the Bird Park’s Hawk Show team has been rehabilitating the honey buzzard to ensure that upon release into the wild, the bird will be able to survive on its own. Recently, a flock of honey buzzards was sighted over Singapore skies, indicating that this the migration period for them and signaling a perfect time to release this rescued honey buzzard.

“As a conservation-driven institution, the Bird Park undertakes the treatment and rehabilitation of wild birds brought to us. So far, we have released birds like the white-bellied sea eagle, zebra dove and the red-whiskered bulbul back into the wild,” said Mr Raja Segran, General Curator, Jurong Bird Park.

He added: “Wild birds which appear weak, injured or disoriented need to be attended to immediately. Jurong Bird Park is a designated rescued avian centre and we have the necessary facilities and expertise to treat injured wild birdlife. Birds generally have a different diet from humans, much less birds of prey, which are raptors. Cooked food suitable for human consumption is generally not suitable for wild birds as their diets may include live insects and small animals. Members of the public can contact us when they encounter injured or distressed wild birds and are advised not to approach injured animals directly as this may cause them to panic, causing further injuries.”

Jurong Bird Park, together with the Night Safari and the Singapore Zoo are rescued wildlife centres of choice, receiving an average of 500 animals annually. Over the last three decades, WRS parks have cared for and rescued more than 10,000 animals from all over the world, including Singapore.
Members of the public who encounter injured or distressed birds can contact Jurong Bird Park at the following numbers:

From 8.30am to 6.30pm 6265-0022
From 6.30pm onwards 6266-0638

About honey buzzards
Eastern honey buzzards are also known as Crested or Oriental Honey Buzzards. They breed in temperate and warmer climates of the Old World, and migrate from Eastern Russia (Siberia), China, Japan, South Korea and also North Korea down to Southeast Asia during winter.

Honey buzzards, almost exclusively through their range, are specialist feeders of wasp larvae. They are also known to feed on combs, pupae and adults of wasps, bees and hornets, which of course are their preferred food, hence their name. Other large insects are also taken and so are reptiles, frogs, small mammals and even birds at times. These birds have also been documented feeding on berries and fruits. Types of fruits vary according to range.

Honey buzzards are fully matured around the ages of four to five. And like in most other birds of prey, females are larger than males. Although they are mostly found singly or more often in pairs, during the migration season, they are known to migrate in numbers of up to thousands! Migratory birds fly along coastal areas so that they can ride the thermals, which rise from seas.

The cooked chicken meat, onions and garlic which were extracted from the honey buzzard’s crop.
Sutured wound on the crop of the honey buzzard. Picture courtesy of Bjorn Olesen
The honey buzzard being tube fed on a liquid diet after surgery. Picture courtesy of Bjorn Olesen

WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE SIGNS MOU WITH WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY

TO COLLABORATE ON FIELD CONSERVATION AND PUBLIC EDUCATION TO PROTECT BIODIVERSITY IN THE FACE OF GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE AND HUMAN ENCROACHMENT

Singapore, January 29, 2010Wildlife Reserves Singapore Pte Ltd (WRS), the parent company of Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari and Singapore Zoo, together with its recently established Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund (WRSCF) today signed an agreement to collaborate with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), based in New York, and Wildlife Conservation Society Singapore Limited (WCS Singapore) on field conservation and public education to protect biodiversity in the face of global climate change and human encroachment.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between Ms Claire Chiang, Chairperson of both WRS and WRSCF; Mr Ward W Woods, Chair of WCS and Dr Steven E Sanderson, President and CEO of WCS and Chair of WCS Singapore, in the presence of President S R Nathan, Patron of WRSCF.

This MOU marks the start of a stronger commitment to protect biodiversity, not just in Singapore, but in Asia and around the world. Through the joint commission, representatives from all four parties will co-operate to undertake field conservation projects and share best practices and technical expertise contributing to wildlife conservation. They will also collaborate to promote public education and increase awareness on conservation issues.

“At WRS, an unprecedented level of effort has been invested to conserve and protect biodiversity. To strengthen our commitment, WRSCF was established last year, primarily to conserve endangered native wildlife. This MOU represents another important step forward in our ongoing commitment to preserve our ecosystems and precious wildlife species, many of which are already threatened and in dire need of protection,” said Ms Chiang.

Established in 1895, the Wildlife Conservation Society has built a strong global conservation network to become the world’s most comprehensive conservation organisation. WCS currently manages about 500 conservation projects in more than 60 countries and educates millions of visitors on important issues affecting our planet at the five parks they manage in New York City, including the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and Queens Zoo.

“Our new partnership with Wildlife Reserves Singapore represents an important step for WCS and the conservation of wildlife in Asia,” said Mr Woods. “WRS’ conservation efforts and programmes have won worldwide acclaim. We look forward to spearheading new initiatives together and developing a regional centre of excellence for the protection of Asia’s most endangered wildlife.”

“We share WCS’ clear mission to save wildlife and wild places across the globe. That is why I am so proud to be part of this joint collaboration to bring our conservation programme to the global arena. This partnership will pave the way for future collaborations and open many doors for all four parties to work towards their shared goal of protecting global biodiversity,” added Ms Chiang.

With this MOU, the four parties will coordinate efforts on research methodologies and the exchange of multiple sources of knowledge, leading to action plans for conservation, education and key priorities for the management of biodiversity. Working in Asia since the early 20th century, WCS has partnered with national and regional governments, local communities and other scientific organisations to protect Asia’s incredible diversity of wildlife and wild places — to bolster environmental policy, train new generations of environmental stewards, support sustainable livelihoods, and connect protected areas. Some notable WCS projects include: working with the government of Cambodia to establish the Seima Protection Forest, created to protect wildlife and conserve carbon; and an ongoing effort to save tigers across Asia (WCS is committed to increasing tiger populations by 50 percent across 10 landscapes by 2016).

In the areas of conservation and research, WRS parks in Singapore have undertaken multiple projects, which focus on species such as the oriental pied hornbill, pangolin and orang utan, through collaborations with various organisations and institutions. Recent conservation efforts include hosting a regional Asian pangolin conservation workshop. All WRS parks are designated wildlife rescue centres by the governing authority.

WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE SEES AN INCREASE IN ANIMALS DONATED TO THE PARKS

637 ANIMALS DONATED IN 2007

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.