Jurong Bird Park first zoo to breed endangered bird

A father Santa Cruz ground dove with its chick at Jurong Bird Park.
A father Santa Cruz ground dove with its chick at Jurong Bird Park.PHOTO: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

4 chicks hatched from 60 Santa Cruz ground doves under its care

Four baby Santa Cruz ground doves were hatched at Jurong Bird Park in recent weeks, making the park the first zoological institution in the world to successfully breed the highly threatened bird species under human care.

Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) said in a statement yesterday that the first of the Santa Cruz ground dove chicks hatched on Dec 31 last year.

The bird, native to the Solomon Islands, is listed as endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List.

Given the volatile environment of the Solomon Islands, not much data on the species has been recorded, WRS said.

"This means that all the information that can be collected from the birds under human care is extremely valuable and may help better understand the species and its needs in the wild," it added.

In August last year, 60 Santa Cruz ground doves - probably half of the world's wild population - were rescued from poachers and erupting volcanoes on the Solomon Islands.

They were then taken to Jurong Bird Park to be bred.

 
 

The goal is to help the birds return to their homeland to boost their numbers.

Jurong Bird Park has also seen similar success with the straw-headed bulbul, a critically endangered songbird that is among the most heavily traded of its kind in South-east Asia.

Singapore is likely to be the only stronghold of the species, with just over 200 remaining in the wild, according to the local nature community.

It is believed that the songbird is extinct in half of its range states in South-east Asia.

In the past two years, Jurong Bird Park has successfully bred four of these birds, with the newest chick arriving in July last year.

The first chick hatched in 2017, marking the first time in over a decade that these songbirds were bred under human care.

It was also the first time that this was done as part of a conservation breeding programme which Jurong Bird Park led.

Just like some other songbirds, this species of bulbul faces threats from illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade.

The chicks are on display at the park's Wings of Asia exhibit, which also houses other threatened avian species like the Santa Cruz ground dove.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 24, 2019, with the headline 'Jurong Bird Park first zoo to breed endangered bird'. Print Edition | Subscribe