SINGAPORE - The Singapore Zoo welcomed its first pair of crocodile monitor hatchlings in November last year, a milestone achievement as both are the world's first second-generation crocodile monitors to hatch in a zoo.
The species are known to be difficult to breed under human care and the hatchlings are extra special because both parents were themselves hatched under human care.
The crocodile monitors were among 660 newborns and hatchlings collectively welcomed in 2019 by Wildlife Reserves (WRS), which manages Jurong Bird Park, the Night Safari, River Safari and the Singapore Zoo.
The newborns are from 121 different species, 25 of which are listed as threatened under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
Five chicks are hyacinth macaws, a type of parrot species native to South America which are threatened by habitat loss and poaching. They are being raised at the Jurong Bird Park's Breeding and Research Centre to maximise their chances of survival.
Similarly, endangered Santa Cruz ground doves, native to the Solomon Islands, that were transferred to the park produced 37 hatchlings in 2019.
As the world's only assurance colony outside the Solomon Islands, the hatchlings are a big win for the species, whose population in the wild is currently estimated at only 300.
"As recent events like the fires in the Amazon and Australia have shown, wildlife is facing increasingly dire threats. Breeding these threatened species under human care helps to ensure that there is a sustainable population of the species, that could one day be used to supplement wild populations," said Dr Luis Carlos Neves, WRS' Director of Zoology.
They also serve as an "assurance population" in the event the wild populations become locally extinct, he said.
Among the other animals that arrived last year were a Malayan tapir calf, the 31st to be born at the Night Safari; a giant anteater pup at the River Safari; and a pair of red-shanked douc langur babies, as well as a white rhinoceros calf at the Singapore Zoo.
A self-funded organisation, WRS says it focuses on protecting biodiversity in Singapore and South-east Asia through collaborations with like-minded partners, organisations and institutions. Each year, its four attractions welcome 4.6 million visitors.
Correction note: This article has been edited for accuracy.