SINGAPORE - Meet Chawang, the new animal icon for the Night Safari.
The 4.5-tonne male Asian elephant - the largest and heaviest resident in Singapore's wildlife parks - will be to the park what Ah Meng the orang utan is to the Singapore zoo and Canola the manatee to the River Safari.
With a higher profile, Chawang will also serve as ambassador for his species, listed as endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Deputy CEO and Chief Life Sciences Officer of Wildlife Reserves Singapore, which manages the Night Safari, said, "Asian elephants are some of the most awe-inspiring animals in this part of the world but their population is declining at an alarming rate. We support many conservation projects to protect this gentle giant but more needs to be done.
"Chawang has been a popular animal in Night Safari, and with him as our park icon we hope he lends a massive weight to our efforts to draw attention on the plight of Asian elephants in our neighbouring countries, and what can be done to help them."
Habitat loss and human-elephant conflict have had a devastating impact on the species. In the last three generations, Asian elephant populations have been reduced by 50 per cent.
The Night Safari has long been doing its part to help conserve the species. Its efforts include a breeding programme to help ensure sustainable populations under human care, and its new icon has made his own contributions. A resident of the Night Safari since its opening in 1994, Chawang has successfully sired five elephants, including the Night Safari's latest addition, Neha, who was born on May 12.
Wildlife Reserves Singapore is also one of the founding members of the Southeast Asian Captive Elephant Working Group, which comprises regional and international elephant specialists,veterinarians, researchers and conservationists coming together to provide solutions to improve the management and welfare of elephants under human care, with special attention to elephants used in the tourism industry in ASEAN countries.
To celebrate Chawang's coronation, Night Safari launched a new Twilight Encounters programme, which will run on Fridays and Saturdays from Nov 18 to Dec 10.