Over 500 wild borns in Singapore wildlife parks in 2017

11 Jan 2018

Oban the white rhino and Maru the king penguin among star babies

Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari, River Safari and Singapore Zoo have reported 540 animal births and hatchings in 2017. Of the new additions, over a quarter of them belonged to threatened species, as the wildlife parks continue conservation breeding efforts.

Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Deputy CEO and Chief Life Sciences Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said, “The provision of quality care by our team of dedicated and passionate animal carers is a key success factor and we have yet another year of significant breeding achievements in our parks. Together with our efforts in protecting wildlife in their native habitats, breeding of threatened species in our parks contribute to their continuing survival in the world.”

Khansa, a critically endangered Bornean orangutan was born to mother Anita on 24 April 2017. The female baby is Anita’s sixth offspring, and 46th successful orangutan birth in Singapore Zoo.


Two critically endangered electric blue geckos hatched in Singapore Zoo’s newly revamped herpetofauna exhibit RepTopia on 22 December 2017. The hatchlings will contribute to the zoo’s efforts to establish an assurance colony to ensure the continued existence of this species.


Little rays of hope
Singapore Zoo welcomed a Bornean orangutan baby Khansa in April, bringing the park’s impressive track record of successful orangutan births up to 46. To ensure the genetic diversity of the species, orangutans born in the park have been sent to zoological institutions in Malaysia, India, Vietnam, Japan, Australia and New Zealand as part of a worldwide exchange programme. Khansa’s birth came at a crucial time for the species, just months after Bornean orangutans were uplisted from endangered to critically endangered status in 2016 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Ms Wendy Chua, Assistant Curator (Animal Records & Transactions), Wildlife Reserves Singapore, who serves as co-coordinator for the South East Asian Zoos Association (SEAZA) Species Management Programme for Bornean orangutan said, “Breeding wildlife under human care is a collaborative effort among zoos. Studying the gene pool and demography of the species, we match suitable individuals around the region and at times, around the world. Each baby born or hatched is precious, especially so for species like the Bornean orangutans, whose numbers have dwindled drastically in the wild. We aim to maintain a genetically healthy and stable population under human care.”

Christmas came three days early for Singapore Zoo’s herpetology team at the newly revamped RepTopia exhibit, when two critically endangered electric blue geckos hatched on 22 December 2017. Electric blue geckos are among the most threatened geckos in the world due to their popularity in the illegal pet trade. The miniscule hatchlings are a significant step toward establishing an assurance colony, a stable population of the species under human care with the ultimate aim to release them back into the wild.

The end of the year brought even more festive cheer with the birth of an endangered baby female pygmy hippo on 7 November. Named Abina, a name of Ghanaian origin which means “born on Tuesday”, her birth marks Singapore Zoo’s 24th successful pygmy hippo birth. A furrier and spottier baby, a jaguar cub, was born to first-time mother Aswa at River Safari on 16 November. This was the first successful jaguar birth for the wildlife parks since 2009. The yet-unnamed cub is not quite ready to make its public appearance and will remain in the nursery den under the watchful eye of mother Aswa and its human carers for at least two more months.

A jaguar cub was born to first-time mother Aswa at River Safari on 16 November. Not yet ready to make a public appearance, the cub remains under the watchful eye of his human carers and mother Aswa.


Star Babies
Year 2017 was also one where the animal babies enjoyed their time in the limelight, barely a few months old but stars in their own right. In August, Squish the greater flamingo became a viral sensation with its dainty blue shoes. Raised by its human carers, Squish’s blue shoes were fashioned to protect its foot pads while the baby flamingo learnt to walk.

In September 2017 Singapore Zoo saw its first male white rhino calf in five years. Named Oban, which means “king” in the African Yoruba language, the little rhino made his public debut in October, galloping into his new exhibit and into the hearts of the public. The park has had 21 successful white rhino babies, and some have been sent to Australia, Indonesia, Korea and Thailand as part of the Zoo’s ex-situ conservation efforts through its worldwide exchange programme.

Jurong Bird Park heralded yet another king on 10 October, a king penguin chick to be exact. Maru —meaning “round” in Japanese—is the first successful king penguin hatching for the park in close to a decade. Maru was raised by a dedicated team at the park’s Breeding and Research Centre to maximise its chances of survival. Maru made its first appearance both to the public and the rest of the waddle of penguins in December along with a collection of Christmas surprises.

Squish showing off its signature blue shoes while on one of its walks to strengthen its legs. Abandoned as an egg, Squish the greater flamingo hatched on 7 June 2017and was raised by human carers at Jurong Bird Park’s Breeding and Research Centre.


Born to female white rhino Donsa on 6 September 2017, Oban is Donsa’s 11th baby and one of seven white rhinos at the park. Altogether, 21 white rhinos have been born in the zoo, some of which have been sent to zoos in Australia, Indonesia, Korea and Thailand as part of a global animal exchange programme.


Maru the king penguin chick receives a myriad of Christmas goodies while being introduced to the rest of its family. Maru is the first successful king penguin chick to be hatched in almost a decade in Jurong Bird Park.


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