Despite the pandemic, last year proved to be a productive one for Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari, River Wonders and Singapore Zoo. Singapore’s four wildlife parks collectively welcomed about 900 newborns across 160 species, almost doubling in number from the previous year. Of these births and hatchings, 44 species are listed as threatened under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
Some exciting births that happened last year include that of Singapore’s first Giant Panda cub Le Le, two new foals to Singapore Zoo’s herd of Grevy’s Zebras, four pups to Singapore Zoo’s pack of African Painted Dogs, and Jurong Bird Park’s first Negros Bleeding-heart Dove chick, whose species is listed as critically endangered.
SINGAPORE, 26 January 2021 – Singapore’s very own Simba was born on 23 October 2020. The male lion cub was conceived through assisted reproduction at the Wildlife Healthcare and Research Centre in Singapore Zoo. Keepers and veterinarians worked to collect semen from Simba’s father Mufasa, a geriatric lion, using the process of electro-ejaculation. In a bittersweet twist, the cub will never know his father as the latter was not revived following the procedure. His deteriorating health was a key factor.
African lions in the wild have an average lifespan of 10-14 years. Mufasa lived to the ripe old age of 20 but did not sire any cubs in his lifetime because of his aggressive behaviour which did not bring about successful pairings with any female. Yet his genes would be of high value in contributing to the genetic diversity and sustainability of African lion populations in zoological institutions. This species is listed as ‘vulnerable’ under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Thanks to advancements in assisted reproductive technology, Singapore Zoo’s animal care team was able to harness artificial insemination as a means of preserving Mufasa’s bloodline. Lioness Kayla was identified as an ideal candidate for the assisted pregnancy as she was a proven breeder.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Singapore Zoo recently celebrated the birth of its thirteenth White Rhino -- an adorable and curious youngster. Aptly named Jumaane (which means born on Tuesday), he arrived on Tuesday, April 10, weighing approximately 155 pounds (70kg) at birth -- undoubtedly one of the biggest babies the Zoo has welcomed to date. He can be seen running or rolling around in the mud in his spacious exhibit at the Wild Africa region. Mom Shova is always close by, keeping a watchful eye.
White Rhinos are considered near threatened in the wild on the IUCN’s* Red List of Threatened species. Together with the Indian Rhino, it is the largest species of land mammal after the elephant. They are hunted for their horns, which some believe to have medicinal properties. In fact, the horns are actually made of keratin, the same type of protein that makes up hair and fingernails, and there has been no scientific evidence to suggest that they are a cure for any condition.
Singapore Zoo currently has eight of these majestic creatures in its collection, and boasts the most number of White Rhinos bred in a single zoo in Southeast Asia. Of the 13 babies born there, some have been sent to Indonesia, Australia, Thailand and Korea as part of the Zoo’s ex-situ conservation efforts through its worldwide exchange program.
Barely a year since its first successful birth of Clouded Leopards, Night Safari recently welcomed another litter of cubs. The three cubs that arrived on 14 April 2012 were born to parents Tawan and Wandee, who had their first litter in May last year. Clouded Leopards are among the world’s rarest and most secretive wild cat species.
Named for the cloud-like patterns of their coats, which help them disappear into the shadows of the forest, Clouded Leopards are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity. This second birth is a result of a planned breeding program, which saw the introduction of Tawan and Wandee at an early age to promote bonding and minimise aggression. The mating pair arrived from Thailand’s Khao Kheow Open Zoo three years ago.
Despite having a body like a small bear and a face similar to a cat, the secretive Bearcat is actually a member of the civet family, more closely related to Mongooses and Meerkats (and true civets of course). These baby Bearcats, also known as Binturongs, were born at the Wildlife Reserves Singapore's Night Safari on January 26.
Found primarily in the rainforest treetops of South and Southeast Asia, Bearcats have a mixed diet of fruits, leaves, birds, fish and eggs. Extremely rare among carnivores, this speices has a fully prehensile tail. The meaning of their other name, Binturong, is unknown as the native language it was derived from is now extinct.
Singapore Zoo celebrated the latest addition to its family on February 13, 2012 when one of its grand dames, Eva the 20-year-old Caribbean or West Indian Manatee, gave birth to male twins.
Unfortunately only one of her offspring survived. The other died soon after birth and was found to have a heart defect. Twin births are extremely rare for Manatees, which are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Photo credits: Wildlife Reserves Singapore
Female Manatees reach sexual maturity as young as three years, and typically give birth to a single calf every two years, after a gestation of 12 months. It takes a further 12-18 months to wean the calf. With seven children and two grandchildren to her name, Eva is truly a star. Singapore Zoo now boasts nine of these fascinating creatures, the largest collection among the world’s ISIS institutions.
The newborn has been christened Valentine, and can already be seen independently exploring the pool although calves usually do not stray from their mothers for the first one to two years of their lives. The last manatee birth was in 2010, a male named Junior that is often seen playing with his baby brother.
Wildlife Reserves Singapore in Mandai, Singapore welcomed a lanky surprise this festive season – a 1.88m tall baby Giraffe born on December 5, 2011! The male calf got on his feet just moments after a six-foot drop from his mother, Dobeni, who gave birth standing up. The birth is the first in three years. The 75-kg baby, which is still unnamed, is the third South African Giraffe born at the Reserves' Night Safari. His father, Pongola, and mother Dobeni are also proud parents of female Giraffe Kayin, born at the park in 2008.
Photo credits: Wildlife Reserves Singapore
“We hope that the birth of this South African Giraffe sub-species at Night Safari will continue to increase the gene pool of the species for global zoological institutions through animal exchanges and breeding programs,” said Mr. Subash Chandran, Assistant Director, Zoology, for Night Safari.