540 animals born in 2017 in Singapore's wildlife parks, 39 of threatened species

2017 was a good year for the otters with a total of 14 successful Asian small-clawed otter births across Night Safari and Singapore Zoo.
2017 was a good year for the otters with a total of 14 successful Asian small-clawed otter births across Night Safari and Singapore Zoo.PHOTO: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE
A jaguar cub was born to first-time mother, Aswa, at River Safari on Nov 16, 2017.
A jaguar cub was born to first-time mother, Aswa, at River Safari on Nov 16, 2017. PHOTO: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE
Greater flamingo chick Squish flaunts its striking blue shoes, which were designed to protect its feet while learning to walk.
Greater flamingo chick Squish flaunts its striking blue shoes, which were designed to protect its feet while learning to walk.PHOTO: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - A pair of Tanzanian geckos, a boisterous Bornean orangutan and a languid pygmy hippo.

These were among the 540 animals born to the Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) in 2017 - 173 in the Singapore Zoo, 43 in River Safari, 90 in Night Safari and 234 in Jurong Bird Park.

The animals are of 145 species, 39 of which are listed as threatened.

Among the critically endangered species is Khansa - the 46th successful orangutan birth in the Singapore Zoo - who is now eight months old.

Its birth came as a silver lining to the 2016 announcement by the International Union for Conservation of Nature that Bornean orangutans were to be uplisted from endangered to critically endangered.

To maintain genetic diversity, orangutans born under the care of WRS have been sent to zoos in countries like Malaysia, Japan, and Australia as part of an exchange programme.

Another critically endangered species is the electric blue gecko, which saw two hatchlings last month, bringing its total count to nine.

 

The Tanzanian native is among the most threatened gecko species in the world due to its popularity in the illegal pet trade. Baby geckos are brownish green in colour, but males turn electric blue when they grow older.

Their chance of surviving in the wild is quite "precarious", said Dr Cheng Wen Haur, deputy chief executive officer and chief life sciences officer of the WRS.

Now less than a month old, the pair's gender has yet to be identified as they have not reached sexual maturity.

Endangered species which celebrated their first birth in almost a decade include the king penguin and jaguar.

The king penguin chick Maru - meaning "round" in Japanese - was given a name befitting its tubby build. First revealed to the public last month, it was raised by the bird park's Breeding and Research Centre to maximise its survival chances.

Barely a month old, the jaguar cub has yet to be named by its zookeepers. It will need at least two more months to make its first public appearance.

"All the things that (the WRS does), including breeding them in our care and protecting them in their native habitats, is very important. There's no way we can slacken off," said Dr Cheng.

He identified two areas where public awareness is important - the illegal wildlife trade and the medicine trade.

"People need to find out whether their pets are illegally acquired or unsustainably acquired... Asians, especially, like to eat wildlife as delicacies or for supposed medicinal effects. Poachers will illegally kill many of these wildlife to supply the medicine trade," he said.