wild places | wild happenings | wild news
make a difference for our wild places

home | links | search the site
  all articles latest | past | articles by topics | search wildnews
wild news on wildsingapore
  Channel NewsAsia 28 Jan 07
Singapore Zoo undergoing change into a Rainforest Zoo
By David Teo

Today Online 25 Jan 07
Mating in Mandai
It's boom time as endangered species have babies here
Lin Yanqin yanqin@mediacorp.com.sg

THEY may not be answering mating calls out in the wild, but at Mandai, it seems some endangered species are having a baby boom.

More than 180 animals were born in the Singapore Zoo and the Night Safari last year under the parks' captive breeding programme. And of these, 14 per cent are endangered in the wild.

Doing spectacularly well last year were the primates, who saw three proboscis monkeys, two douc langurs, one Bornean orang utan, one lion-tailed macaque and four cottoned-top tamarins join their tribe last year--all of which are on the endangered list of the World Conservation Union. Other animals born last year include three Nubian Ibexes--also endangered--and a Malayan Tapir, two Jackass penguins, and a pygmy hippo--all animals considered vulnerable to endangerment.

The zoo is also the only zoological institution to successfully breed the douc langur outside its home range countries of Vietnam and Laos.

"As we have been very successful in the breeding of primates, we will continue to focus our efforts on this group of animals," said the zoo's assistant director of zoology Mr Biswajit Guha. "We will continue to focus on threatened species such as Komodo dragons, and also on tropical rainforest animals, in line with evolving into a rainforest zoo."

The parks' executive director Ms Fanny Lai attributed the success of the breeding programme to "sound husbandry practices, expertise, and dedication of our zoologists and vets". Every aspect of the animals' lives is monitored carefully to ensure that the animals breed successfully--their temperatures are monitored every day, their diet is carefully designed to provide maximum nutrition, and minerals and vitamins are given as supplements.

The zoo also tries to stimulate the animals mentally and physically by simulating as free and natural an environment as possible. For example, the orang utans have a free-ranging area where they can move about, explore, and behave as their counterparts would in the wild.

Last year, the zoo also set up the Wildlife Healthcare and Research Centre, with a new ultrasound machine to better detect pregnancies and internal ailments.

But even with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, some things are just beyond human control. Said Mr Guha: "Even if we have both male and female species in the same habitat, it may be a case of not having 'chemistry', much like the way it is with humans."

The captive breeding programme, in place since the zoo's inception in 1973, was set up to contribute to the population of threatened species by breeding them in captivity. Notable successes of the programme include Inuka, the first polar bear to be bred in the tropics, in 1990, and a giant flying squirrel, believed to be the first to be born in a zoo in Asia, in 2004.

The well-loved Inuka has been hogging media headlines recently following the zoo's announcement that he will move to a zoo in a temperate climate once his mother, Sheba, dies. That may not be too far off, as the 29-year-old mother is now already too old to move, having passed the average life- span of 25 years for captive polar bears.

Channel NewsAsia 28 Jan 07
Singapore Zoo undergoing change into a Rainforest Zoo
By David Teo

SINGAPORE: Change is in the wind for the Singapore Zoo. It is currently undergoing a major makeover to get a lush rainforest look.

The Singapore Zoo, recognised as one of the finest in Asia, is home to more than 3,000 animals from 290 different species, ranging from gibbons and otters to tapirs and polar bears.

Since its official opening in 1973, it has been evolving - from an open viewing zoo, to a learning zoo providing an interactive and educational experience to its visitors.

Now, it wants to be the most beautiful rainforest zoo in the world. "We're in the process of making ourselves the most beautiful rainforest zoo of the world. This entails three main elements including improving our education and training materials, our research and conservation materials and as well as providing an exceptional wildlife experience for our customers," said Fanny Lai, Executive Director, Singapore Zoo and Night Safari.

2006 saw the addition of a new Rainforest Walk, a landscaped pathway featuring waterfalls, tropical flora and free-ranging orang utans. The zoo has also been re-zoned into eight different rainforests of the world, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Australasia, China and the Amazon.

With its rainforest positioning, comes plans to relocate the popular polar bear exhibit to another zoo. "Just by changing ourselves in terms of our display, our animal collection to make ourselves into a rainforest zoo will certainly not attract a lot of people to come in, but it is a holistic approach that we're providing people with an exceptional wildlife experience.

That includes not just upgrading our display of the animals, our exhibits, but also to provide better customer touch points including providing a wider range of food & beverage selection with better quality, better value for money, also to be more family, handicap-friendly and at the same time, we also have to be more discerning in terms of our hospitality to the visitors," said Lai.

Coupled with recent improvements like Braille interpretive signboards and a Wildlife Healthcare and Research Centre, the zoo looks set in its promise to give all its visitors a truly exceptional wildlife experience. - CNA /dt

Related articles on Singapore: general environmental issues
about the site | email ria
  News articles are reproduced for non-profit educational purposes.

website©ria tan 2003 www.wildsingapore.com