Wildlife Reserves Singapore

Singapore Zoo Celebrates New Giraffe Calf

1_SZ Image 7_Giraffe calf_WRS

On August 31, Singapore Zoo proudly welcomed its first Giraffe calf in 28 years. The male calf is the first offspring for mom, Roni, and dad, Growie, who both arrived at the Singapore Zoo in 2005, from Israel and the Netherlands respectively.

The unnamed calf has grown 40cm since birth, and now stands at 2.3 meters (7.5 feet). He is the tallest ‘SG50’ baby, and is a “symbol of Singapore soaring to new heights in the years following its Jubilee celebration”. ‘SG50’ was a nationwide effort to celebrate Singapore’s 50th birthday in 2015. 

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3_SZ Image 12_Giraffe calf_WRS

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Photo & Video Credits: Wildlife Reserves Singapore

During the calf’s first month, zookeepers kept the mother and baby separated from the rest of the Giraffe herd to allow them to bond, and to ensure the calf was nursing properly. Keepers also needed time to baby-proof the exhibit as a safety precaution before allowing the calf to explore its new surroundings. Existing barriers had to be modified to ensure the baby can explore the exhibit safely.

Gradually, mother and baby were reintroduced to the other two Giraffes in the herd: Growie, the father, and Lucy, an unrelated female, which arrived in Singapore together with Roni. The conditioning process took close to three weeks, as keepers wanted to ensure the calf was accepted by the herd. All four are now comfortably sharing the exhibit and can regularly be seen grooming each other to strengthen their bonds.

Aside from the mother’s milk, the calf can now be seen nibbling on leaves and chopped vegetables, such as carrots. He now spends his days exploring and running around in the exhibit at the Zoo’s Wild Africa zone. While he’s starting to get used to passing trams and visitors, he will still race back to the safety of mom’s towering presence when faced with something unfamiliar.

“Animal babies are always a cause for celebration as they are a good indication that the animals under our care feel comfortable and secure enough to breed in the environment that we’ve created for them. We hope the calf will tug at visitors’ heartstrings and inspire them to find out more about Giraffes and other animals that thrive in the same environment as these majestic creatures,” said Dr. Cheng Wen-Haur, Chief Life Sciences Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

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River Safari Cares for Abandoned Manatee Calf

IMG 1 Baby manatee Canola

Born August 6th, 2014, female Manatee calf ‘Canola’ is the offspring of Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s largest Manatee, 23-year-old ‘Eva’. For unknown reasons, Eva abandoned her latest calf, despite having successfully raised eight offspring in the past and being a grandmother of two.

IMG 2 Aquarist Keith So bottle-feeds baby manatee Canola

IMG 4 Aquarist Keith So conducts physical check on baby manatee Canola

Baby manatee Canola swimming with manatee herd at River Safari's Amazon Flooded ForestPhoto Credits: Wildlife Reserves Singapore

To ensure that animals in River Safari retain their parental behaviors, zoologists strive to have the parents raise their offspring. In the case of Canola, there was no other option but to have aquarists hand-raise the newborn.

The 33kg (73 lb) abandoned calf, at River Safari’s Amazon Flooded Forest exhibit, had to be watched 24 hours for the first few days, fed every two to three hours during the first three months, and re-introduced gradually to her family. It was a Herculean task that the team of aquarists dived into to give baby Canola a fighting chance to live.

Mr. Wah Yap Hon, Curator at River Safari, said, “Hand-raised animals tend to imprint on their human caregivers. The babies will attach themselves to, and learn certain behaviors from their human foster parents, and may not have a chance to bond with their family or other members of their species. In the case of Eva and Canola, we stepped in as a last resort to ensure the survival of this precious baby.”

Similar to caring for a human baby, hand-raising an animal baby requires planning and hard work. For Canola, it involved bottle-feeding every two to three hours, from 8am to 10pm daily, for the first three months. To increase her fat intake and substitute her mother’s highly nutritious milk, Canola was given a special milk formula infused with canola oil, which inspired her name. To ensure Canola’s safety, the aquarists moved her to a shallow holding pool, to minimize the risk of other manatees crowding her and making it challenging for her to rise to the water’s surface to breathe.

“Under the doting care and great team effort of her human caregivers, Canola steadily gained weight and hit all the important developmental milestones of a healthy calf. By December, Canola started swimming with the rest of the herd in the main aquarium, forming close bonds with her species,” said Wah.

Since February, Canola’s caregivers have gradually cut down on her milk intake to four feedings a day, to accommodate her increasing diet of vegetables. Manatees spend six to eight hours a day grazing on aquatic plants, which is why they are also known as ‘sea cows’. Adults typically consume 50-100kg 110lb to 220lb) of vegetation a day, equivalent to 10-15 percent of their body weight.

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Rare Sunda Pangolin Born in Singapore

Radin the Sunda pangolin hitches a ride on Nita as their keeper looks on

In celebration of World Animal Day this year, Wildlife Reserves Singapore announced the arrival of some of the world’s rarest babies, and among them, a critically endangered Sunda Pangolin. 

Radin the Sunda pangolin being measured by his keeper

Radin the Sunda pangolin in the protective clutch of his mother, Nita

Sunda pangolins Radin and Nita in Night Safari Photo Credits: Wildlife Reserves Singapore

The new baby, ‘Radin’, was born July 13th to his protective mother, ‘Nita’. The birth of the critically endangered Sunda Pangolin, in the Night Safari, is one of the most iconic births for WRS. The species is native to Singapore and is the logo for the Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund. 

Night Safari is the world’s first zoological institution to house the elusive, solitary, and nocturnal creature. In recent years, the endangered Sunda Pangolin has been driven closer to extinction by illegal trafficking, habitat loss and being hunted for their meat and scales at an unsustainable level. According to the IUCN Red List, there have been suspected population declines of around 80% over the past 21 years, and there is a projected future decline of greater that 80% during the next several decades.

Accredited zoos and reserves, like Wildlife Reserves Singapore, are crucial to the future survival of the species. This is the third successful birth of a Sunda Pangolin in WRS since 2011.

Pup is the First Giant Otter Ever Born in Asia

The first Giant Otter to be born in all of Asia arrived at River Safari, part of Wildlife Reserve Singapore, on August 10.   River Safari is the only zoo in Asia to hold Giant Otters, which are among the most endangered Otters in the world.

Photo Credit:   Wildlife Reserves Singapore

The unnamed male pup now weighs about 3.5 pounds (1.6kg) and is about two feet long (60cm). While the pup is petite for now, he will eventually weigh 75 pounds (34kg) and grow to six feet (1.8m) in length.  River Safari is the first zoological institution in Asia to feature Giant Otters, which are the largest of the world’s 13 Otter species.

Found primarily in South America’s Amazon River basin, Giant Otters are ferocious predators that hunt piranhas, anacondas and even caimans, earning them the title “river wolves.” Often hunted for their fur and threatened by habitat loss, these river giants are becoming rare in the wild.

Dr. Cheng Wen-Haur, Chief Life Sciences Officer at Wildlife Reserves Singapore said, “With increasing threats such as habitat destruction and poaching, captive breeding programs play a pivotal role in conserving threatened species for our future generations.”