Covid-19 safety measures haven’t let up as Singapore continues to carve out a path towards the end of the pandemic. Staying home, however, doesn’t mean staying bored. Pop into one of our wildlife parks where you can meet baby animals and enjoy an outing filled with exciting performances, guided behind-the-scenes tours and feeding sessions.
Of course, no walk in the wild is complete without its fascinating residents. You may have already read about how Singaporeans endured 200m-long queues for a glimpse of giant panda cub Le Le. But with the recent baby boom at Singapore Zoo, Night Safari and Jurong Bird Park, we’d say there’s even more reason to drop in now.
Like in Netflix’s Back to the Outback, some of these fresh faces may not appear cuddly at first sight. But as the animation movie has shown, each animal possesses a unique charm that you will discover as you get up close with them.
And if you don’t mind spoilers, here’s a first look at the super-cute young things.
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With its totally adorbs appearance – round head, large dark-rimmed eyes, and reddish-brown coat with dark stripe down its back – the Sunda Slow Loris has everyone at hello. But don’t be fooled by its languid gait. When provoked, this primate secretes venom to ward off predators.
Singled out as endangered by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species, also the world’s leading authority on global extinction risk status of animal, fungus and plant species, the Sunda Slow Loris is killed for use in traditional medicine or captured as exotic pets in its native Southeast Asia.
This new arrival – and third of mum’s kids – was born last Christmas as part of an international in-situ breeding programme by the Night Safari for the Sunda Slow Loris.
One of the brightest baby animal stars at Night Safari, Southern Three-banded Armadillo Rolar welcomed a female pup recently. Likely to become vulnerable in the near future, according to IUCN, the Southern Three-banded Armadillo’s defence mechanism of rolling into a ball does little to protect against human poachers who simply pick it up.
Nocturnal, terrestrial, and notorious for foraging in gardens, the Masked Palm Civet is a true-blue Singaporean yet hardly spotted on our island. If you’re lucky, you might encounter the cub duo along one of the walking trails.
16 years is never too long to wait to become parents. And the young African Painted Dog quartet make it worth the wait as they enliven the Singapore Zoo Wild Africa neighbourhood with their energy and affability.
Although little in size, these precious pups will do everything – twitter, whine, yelp, and howl – to engage you in conversation. Mum and dad take turns to care for their pups – while everyone else in the pack chips in with other duties like feeding.
Only about 6,600 remain in Africa, where they originate – and are often threatened by human encroachment on their habitat.
An endangered community with only 3,000 left in the world – including local-born half-siblings Izara and Tari – the Grevy’s Zebra is hunted in their native Ethiopia for their beautiful striped skins, or as food or medicine.
The largest of the zebra species, the Grevy’s average between 1.2 and 1.5m in height and between 340 and 453kg in weight. That’s not all; it has larger ears and narrower stripes than the common plains zebra.
Newborns are fast learners – they can stand after 6 minutes; walk after 20 minutes, and run after 1 hour. But they tend to be creatures of comfort, preferring to stay close to mum (especially the males) for up to 3 years.
More than 60 Golden Mantella tadpoles – these critically endangered amphibians originate from Madagascar – became the first to be bred in Singapore. Bright yellow or orange in appearance, with short legs and dark eyes, each grows up to a super-petite 2.5cm long. They live in groups where there are twice as many males as females.
Once abundant in the southern islands of Japan but now rarely spotted whether there or zoos elsewhere in the world, these long-tailed lovelies have rapidly dwindled in population as the forests were cleared for agriculture. Offspring are also few and far in between, as only 1 or 2 eggs are laid every summer.
Larger in size than other species of turtles – adults can grow to 20cm long – the Malayan Box Turtle supposedly survives much better, say, up to 30 years in its natural habitat. When faced with danger, it can tuck its black head and limbs completely into its dark shell. Unfortunately, its popularity as a pet and delicacy means many have not been able to escape being hunted and killed over the years.
Native to Southeast Asia, particularly Peninsular Malaysia and Indonesia, the False Gharial is critically endangered – less than 10,000 remain throughout the world wild or captive – due to habitat loss. Hunted for their skin and meat, adults can reach lengths of nearly 5m, making this species the longest among crocodiles. Hatchlings born in the wild, however, are frequently eaten by predators such as other reptiles.
Jurong Bird Park
A conservation breeding programme established in Jurong Bird Park in 2021 to help boost the population of the Negros Bleeding-heart Dove led to the birth of three chicks. Which is not bad at all especially since there are less than 250 of these birds in the wild – hence its critically endangered status in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Adult birds typically bear a red splash across their chest.
Jurong Bird Park
Hunted for its melodious song across Southeast Asia to near extinction, the Straw-headed Bulbul enjoys a relatively more stable growth rate in Singapore, where 200 (out of the global total of 1,700) have made their home. Jurong Bird Park is not just the only zoological institution to hold and breed the species for conservation, but also the international coordinator for the ex-situ breeding programme.
Jurong Bird Park
Arriving just last year was a young trio of Blue-eyed Cockatoos. These beautiful creatures are not only critically endangered – due to habitat loss and poaching – but difficult to breed under human care too. As the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria’s designated monitor for the species, Jurong Bird Park has the world’s largest population in a zoological institute.