Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari, River Safari and Singapore Zoo have reported 540 animal births and hatchings in 2017. Of the new additions, over a quarter of them belonged to threatened species, as the wildlife parks continue conservation breeding efforts.
“The provision of quality care by our team of dedicated and passionate animal carers is a key success factor and we have yet another year of significant breeding achievements in our parks. Together with our efforts in protecting wildlife in their native habitats, breeding of threatened species in our parks contributes to their continuing survival in the world.” – Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Deputy CEO and Chief Life Sciences Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore
Little rays of hope Singapore Zoo welcomed a Bornean orangutan baby Khansa in April, bringing the park’s impressive track record of successful orangutan births up to 46. To ensure the genetic diversity of the species, orangutans born in the park have been sent to zoological institutions in Malaysia, India, Vietnam, Japan, Australia and New Zealand as part of a worldwide exchange programme.
Khansa’s birth came at a crucial time for the species, just months after Bornean orangutans were uplisted from endangered to critically endangered status in 2016 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
“Breeding wildlife under human care is a collaborative effort among zoos. Studying the gene pool and demography of the species, we match suitable individuals around the region and at times, around the world. Each baby born or hatched is precious, especially so for species like the Bornean orangutans, whose numbers have dwindled drastically in the wild. We aim to maintain a genetically healthy and stable population under human care.” – Ms Wendy Chua, Assistant Curator (Animal Records & Transactions), Wildlife Reserves Singapore
Christmas came three days early for Singapore Zoo’s herpetology team at the newly revamped RepTopia exhibit, when two critically endangered electric blue geckos hatched on 22 December. Electric blue geckos are among the most threatened geckos in the world due to their popularity in the illegal pet trade. The miniscule hatchlings are a significant step toward establishing an assurance colony, a stable population of the species under human care with the ultimate aim to release them back into the wild.
On 6 September, Singapore Zoo saw its first male white rhino calf in five years. Named Oban, which means “king” in the African Yoruba language, the little rhino made his public debut in October, galloping into his new exhibit and into the hearts of the public. The park has had 21 successful white rhino babies, and some have been sent to Australia, Indonesia, Korea and Thailand as part of the Zoo’s ex-situ conservation efforts through its worldwide exchange programme.
The end of the year brought even more festive cheer with the birth of an endangered baby female pygmy hippo on 7 November. Named Abina, a name of Ghanaian origin which means “born on Tuesday”, her birth marks Singapore Zoo’s 24th successful pygmy hippo birth. A furrier and spottier baby, a jaguar cub, was born to first-time mother Aswa at River Safari on 16 November.
This was the first successful jaguar birth for the wildlife parks since 2009. The yet-unnamed cub is not quite ready to make its public appearance and will remain in the nursery den under the watchful eye of mother Aswa and its human carers for at least two more months.