Close to 400 Babies Born and Hatched in Singapore’s Wildlife Parks in 2020

25 Feb 2021
Rising above the gloom of 2020, brought about by the global pandemic, Singapore’s four wildlife parks found many reasons to celebrate throughout the year, with close to 400 babies across 107 species joining the animal family. Of the additions, 29 species are listed as threatened under the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

One of Night Safari’s Malayan tiger twins at seven weeks old. The precious cubs are not only an achievement for the animal care team, but also a significant addition to the sub-species, which is facing extinction.

PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Proud Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo mother Nupela sharing an intimate hug with her first-born Joey, Malolo, He was born four years after Nupela was paired with father Makaia under the Global Species Management Plan.

PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Deputy CEO and Chief Life Sciences Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said, “Even with the many hurdles posed by the pandemic, our animal care team remained focused on providing the best possible care for our living collection and has yielded some outstanding achievements in conservation breeding. Of notable mention is the twin birth of critically endangered Malayan tiger cubs. With an estimated 150 Malayan tigers left in the wild, the birth of this duo is a significant addition to the population of this subspecies.”


Small but significant
The year came to a close on a celebratory note as Night Safari welcomed a pair of Malayan tiger cubs on 27 December 2020, the first successful birth of the critically endangered feline at WRS since 1998. The Malayan tiger faces extinction together with five other remaining sub-species of tigers around the world. The yet-to-be-named siblings are currently cared for by their mother Intan, in an off-exhibit area. The animal care team closely monitors their progress via closed circuit cameras. Intan is proving to be a great mum and is often observed grooming and playing with her cubs.

On 29 June 2020, Night Safari welcomed birth #33 to its Malayan tapir family, a species listed as endangered on the IUCN’s Red List. True to his moniker, the calf named Bintang, which means ‘star’ in Malay, captured the hearts of many when he made his debut on WRS’ social media pages. The fearless young male has since transitioned into the two-toned coat that is distinct in adult tapirs.

Over at Singapore Zoo, critically endangered red ruffed lemur couple, Minnie and Bosco, specially matched because of their genetic compatibility, welcomed their first pair of twins on 22 February 2020. The rust-coloured brother and sister are now almost fully grown and can be seen exploring their home together with their parents.

The Celebes crested macaques were no slouches in the breeding mission either. They too added to the tally of breeding efforts when the latest addition, Joyo (an Indonesian name which means ‘victorious’) was born on 3 July 2020. The critically endangered primate can often be seen swinging around the exhibit and emulating the ways of his elder brother Agung.

Primates were not the only ones pulling their weight in Singapore Zoo. Goodfellow’s tree kangaroos Makaia and Nupela welcomed a male joey on 4 February 2020. The pair was matched under the Global Species Management Plan (GSMP) in 2016 in efforts to enhance the genetic viability of this species under human care. The joey has since been named Malolo, which means ‘rest’ in Tok Pisin. He certainly is living up to his name and is often spotted snoozing with mom Nupela.

Singapore Zoo’s RepTopia team welcomed seven black-legged poison frogs. Despite being highly poisonous, carrying toxins on their skin which can be fatal to humans, these beautiful amphibians are endangered due to habitat destruction and the illegal pet trade. As they are natively found in tropical rainforests, keepers need to ensure that these froglets are kept under high humidity levels to ensure their survival. Joining the young tadpoles at RepTopia are young hatchlings of Madagascar day gecko and knob-tailed gecko, a particularly difficult species to breed.

At Jurong Bird Park, the 2020 breeding season had many highlights, with a few first-time hatchings for the park such as western long-tailed hornbill, crowned hornbill, violet-backed starling, golden-breasted starling and burrowing owl. We also saw some species return to breed after a break, such as the red-fronted macaw, recently uplisted to critically endangered due to habitat loss and illegal trade. With fewer than 275 mature individuals left in the wild in its native Bolivia, every chick that helps strengthen the ex-situ population is extremely valuable. Other notable species that have continued to expand their families include blue-eyed cockatoo, straw-headed bulbul and lesser bird-of-paradise to name just a few.

 

Charismatic Characters
2020 also saw the birth of a number of other compelling individuals at WRS. Simba, the lion city’s first lion cub to be born through assisted reproduction was conceived in Singapore Zoo. As the only offspring to his father Mufasa, Simba takes on the important task of continuing his bloodline for genetic diversity.

Night Safari’s southern three-banded armadillo duo, Rocha and Rolar became parents on 5 September 2020, less than a year since being introduced to each other at the night park. Their little ball of joy has been named Bento, which means ‘blessed’ in Portuguese, and can be seen skittering around with mom in their exhibit at the Fishing Cat Trail.

River Safari’s aquarists experienced thrice the joy with a hat trick of successful births of the park’s most iconic species, the West Indian manatee. Two of which were born to first time mums, Canola and her best friend Joella. WRS has an impressive track record with this vulnerable species, having bred 24 so far.

“A key goal of breeding wildlife in our parks is to achieve sustainable populations of species under human care. These animals act as ambassadors for their wild counterparts, connecting people with wildlife and help us tell their story through community engagement and education. Depending on species and circumstances, these zoo-born progenies may also serve as assurance colonies that could one day be used to strengthen wild populations,” said Dr Cheng.

MALAYAN TIGERS

Night Safari welcomed a pair of Malayan tiger cubs on 27 December 2020. With only an estimated population of 150 in the wild, the birth of twin cubs is a significant addition to the population of the endangered sub-species.

MALAYAN TAPIR

Three-month old Malayan tapir Bintang relishes exploring his exhibit during the day to get used to the environs. He is the 32nd Malayan tapir calf to be born at Night Safari.

SOUTHERN THREE BANDED ARMADILLO

Baby Bento is now an expert at digging and foraging for food after learning the ways from his mother Rolar. The Southern three banded armadillo pup has successfully rolled his way into many hearts.

AFRICAN LION

Singapore Zoo’s very own Simba was born on 23 October 2020 to father Mufasa and mother Kayla. The cub, which was conceived through artificial insemination, is developing into a playful and active young lion.

GOODFELLOW'S TREE KANGAROO

The latest addition to Singapore Zoo’s Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo family, Malolo is growing by leaps and bounds. Despite his size, he is still mummy’s boy and is always seen hanging around his mother Nupela.

BLACK-LEGGED POISON FROG

One of seven black-legged poison froglets at Singapore Zoo’s RepTopia. As the second most toxic of the poison dart frogs in the wild, these froglets will turn a bright yellow colour, except for their hind legs, to warn predators of their toxicity.

RED RUFFED LEMURS

Critically endangered red ruffed lemur couple, Minnie and Bosco, specially matched for their genetic compatibility, welcomed their first pair of twins on 22 February 2020. Now almost fully-grown, the rust-coloured brother and sister exhibit similar behaviours as their parents.

WEST INDIAN MANATEE

River Safari’s aquarists (from left) Mun Yee and Xin Yi bottle feeding two of the newborn manatee calves in 2020. Three West Indian manatee calves splashed onto the River Safari scene in 2020.

RED THROATED MACAW

One of the two red throated macaw hatchlings at Jurong Bird Park’s Breeding & Research Centre. The critically endangered chicks were hand-raised to maximise their chances of survival.