Wildlife baby boom: parks successfully bred over 700 animals

Agung, a Celebes crested macaque, being groomed by his mother. He is the first such macaque to be born at the zoo in seven years. A world-first breeding of Santa Cruz ground-doves in human care. The first chick was hatched at Jurong Bird Park on Dec
Singapore Zoo's chimpanzee baby Nini holding on to Rah, another female chimpanzee. In the enclosure with them is Nini's mother Bianca. The one-year-old is ready to start exploring and playing with other members of the troop, but still spends most of her time clinging on to her mother.ST PHOTO: JOSEPH CHUA
A Malayan horned froglet next to a five-cent coin. Five tadpoles successfully reached froglet stage last year and two survived to grow into juveniles.
A Malayan horned froglet next to a five-cent coin. Five tadpoles successfully reached froglet stage last year and two survived to grow into juveniles.ST PHOTO: JOSEPH CHUA
Sloth bearcub Shreya at the Night Safari. She and her twin sister Zara were hand-raised to maximise their chances for survival.
Sloth bearcub Shreya at the Night Safari. She and her twin sister Zara were hand-raised to maximise their chances for survival.ST PHOTO: JOSEPH CHUA
Agung, a Celebes crested macaque, being groomed by his mother. He is the first such macaque to be born at the zoo in seven years. A world-first breeding of Santa Cruz ground-doves in human care. The first chick was hatched at Jurong Bird Park on Dec
A world-first breeding of Santa Cruz ground-doves in human care. The first chick was hatched at Jurong Bird Park on Dec 31.PHOTO: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE
Agung, a Celebes crested macaque, being groomed by his mother. He is the first such macaque to be born at the zoo in seven years. A world-first breeding of Santa Cruz ground-doves in human care. The first chick was hatched at Jurong Bird Park on Dec
Agung, a Celebes crested macaque, being groomed by his mother. He is the first such macaque to be born at the zoo in seven years. ST PHOTO: JOSEPH CHUA

The four wildlife parks successfully bred over 700 animals representing 131 species last year

More than 700 animals from across 131 species were born at the four parks under Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) last year.

Among the newborns were 35 species listed as threatened under the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.

The standout success is the breeding of the endangered Santa Cruz ground-dove at Jurong Bird Park, with 12 chicks born since late December, WRS said.

Other notable newborns include a chimpanzee, a Celebes crested macaque, a pair of sloth bears and Malayan horned frogs.

Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, WRS' deputy chief executive officer and chief life sciences officer, said: "Our team of zookeepers and veterinarians have done us proud again with some outstanding achievements in conservation breeding.

"The world-first breeding of a Santa Cruz ground-dove in human care is a significant step in establishing an assurance population of this species away from their natural home." An assurance population refers to a colony of a species bred under human care and ensures that the species does not go completely extinct even if it were to die out in the wild.

About 300 of the doves, which are native to the Solomon Islands, are estimated to exist in the wild.

 
 
 

The first chick at the Bird Park hatched on Dec 31. More chicks could be on the way as more eggs are incubated, in what is "a significant win" for the species, WRS said.

Jurong Bird Park also successfully bred three "critically endangered" straw-headed bulbuls last year, after hatching one in 2017. The songbird is threatened by poaching and Singapore is the last stronghold of the species, with a local wild population of over 200.

Meanwhile, Singapore Zoo had a prolific year in breeding amphibians, WRS said. In a first for the zoo, five tadpoles of the Malayan horned frog successfully reached froglet stage - the stage before becoming an adult frog.

Two have survived and grown into juveniles.

It also recorded its first birth of a Celebes crested macaque, Agung, in seven years. The "critically endangered" species is threatened by habitat loss and natives hunting for bush meat.

At the Night Safari, zookeepers successfully brought up a pair of sloth bearcub twins, after hand-raising them in order to maximise their chances of survival.

Born last September to an inexperienced mother, Shreya and Zara needed constant care in their first few weeks. They are now being prepared for their public debut.

At the River Safari, a giant anteater, Leona, was born last year for the first time in four years.

Dr Cheng said the main goal of breeding wildlife at the WRS parks is to achieve sustainable populations of species in human care.

"Depending on the species and circumstances, these animals can be ambassadors for community engagement and education, and they may also serve as assurance colonies to safeguard against their extinction in the wild.

"The ultimate goal would be to return some of these zoo-born progenies to their wild habitats some day, when it is safe to do so," he said.

WRS registered 540 baby animals in 2017 and more than 600 in 2016.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 26, 2019, with the headline 'Wildlife baby boom'. Print Edition | Subscribe