Chawang up to the tusk of being Night Safari icon

Chawang has been a favourite at the Night Safari since it opened in 1994.
Chawang has been a favourite at the Night Safari since it opened in 1994.PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Meet Chawang, the Asian elephant that has been chosen as the new icon of the Night Safari.

The animal, which was rescued in Malaysia and is almost 40 years old, has been a favourite at the park since it opened in 1994 and was yesterday picked to serve as ambassador for its species, which is listed as endangered.

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.

"Chawang has been a popular animal in the Night Safari, and with him as our park icon we hope he lends massive weight to our efforts to draw attention to 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 past three generations, Asian elephant populations have shrunk by half.

The Night Safari's efforts to protect the species include a breeding programme. Chawang has successfully sired five elephants, including the park's latest addition, Neha.

To celebrate Chawang's "coronation", the Night Safari has launched a Twilight Encounters programme, which will run on Fridays and Saturdays from today until Dec 10.

Nadia Chevroulet

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 19, 2016, with the headline 'Chawang up to the tusk of being Night Safari icon'. Subscribe