More than 600 animals, including a cheetah, were born last year in Singapore wildlife parks

Deka the four-month old baby cheetah.
Deka the four-month old baby cheetah.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Two baby cotton top tamarins.
Two baby cotton top tamarins.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
A baby cotton top tamarin perched on its parent's back.
A baby cotton top tamarin perched on its parent's back.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Juvenile red-footed tortoises feeding on strawberries.
Juvenile red-footed tortoises feeding on strawberries.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Juvenile fennec foxes have unusually big ears.
Juvenile fennec foxes have unusually big ears.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
A young tapir feeding next to its mother.
A young tapir feeding next to its mother.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Wildlife parks in Singapore welcomed more than 600 baby animals last year, including a cheetah and some endangered species native to South-east Asia (SEA).

Saving a cheetah cub, Deka, was one of the highlights at the Singapore Zoo, said Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) in a press release on Wednesday (Feb 15) that revealed the births.

The zoo, Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari and River Safari make up the four parks managed by WRS.

Deka was abandoned by her inexperienced first-time mother after she was born on Oct 3.

Vets and keepers made the decision to save the cub by hand-raising her.

Starting out weak and malnourished, Deka spent her first four days in the animal hospital.

Vets and keepers then worked tirelessly to provide round-the-clock care for the next two months until she was strong enough to be independent, said WRS.

Today, she is an active and healthy juvenile that enjoys sprinting about her play area.

Cheetahs are considered a vulnerable species with only 7,100 left in the wild.

Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, WRS deputy CEO and chief life sciences officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said: "Each animal baby born and hatched in our parks is an ambassador in their own right. Individually, they represent their wild counterparts, but collectively they embody the need to conserve not just each individual species but the environment as a whole."

Examples of the threatened SEA animals are the Sunda pangolin, painted terrapin, proboscis monkey, Bali mynah and black-winged starling, WRS said.

The Singapore Zoo has also seen the birth of 30 proboscis monkeys since 1999, the highest number outside of their native Indonesia.

Nine painted terrapins, one of SEA's most endangered freshwater turtle species, also hatched in April last year.

The Night Safari's newborn included three fennec foxes and two Sunda pangolins.

The parents of the foxes were kept illegally as pets before they were confiscated by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore.

The foxes will make their debut in the park's Creatures of the Night show as ambassadors against keeping exotic pets.

The Sunda pangolin is considered one of the most trafficked mammals in the world and the Night Safari has been successful in caring for and breeding them.

Over at the Jurong Bird Park, four Bali mynahs and three black-winged starlings hatched last year.

Both species are popular in the illegal songbird trade and are critically endangered.

Animal families in the River Safari also expanded, with the births of a manatee calf, four baby otters, an emperor tamarin and three ocellate river stingrays.

Said Dr Cheng: "We have a mission to protect and conserve biodiversity in Singapore and the region, and are happy to report that our animal care team did well in breeding some of the rarest South-east Asian animals in 2016."

abigailng@sph.com.sg