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World’S Rarest Tortoises Race Against Extinction At Singapore Zoo’S New Tortoise Shell-Ter



New exhibit a naturalistic sanctuary for the tortoises to display natural behaviour and breed;
Zoo celebrates World Turtle Day with special Keeper Talks for guests 
Great care was taken in designing Singapore Zoo’s Tortoise Shell-ter, now home to some of the world’s most threatened tortoises such as the critically endangered Ploughshare Tortoise (pictured above).Only 200 mature specimens are left in the wild, and survive in a 12 square km patch in Madagascar. Their decline in recent years is a result of poaching for the illegal pet trade. The species is at extreme risk of extinction in the wild within 10-15 years. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Singapore Zoo has been successful in the conservation breeding and maintenance of an assurance colony of Southern River Terrapins (pictured above). More than 50 terrapins have been bred since 2007. Assurance colonies refer to the safeguarding of an endangered species under human care, in case the wild population is wiped out. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Singapore, June 2016 – Boosting Singapore Zoo’s efforts to save the world’s most threatened vertebrates from extinction is its newest exhibit—Tortoise Shell-ter. Guests at the park can now look forward to learning more about some of the world’s rarest tortoises and ongoing efforts to increase their dwindling numbers.

Tortoise Shell-ter showcases three critically endangered tortoise species—the Ploughshare Tortoise, Radiated Tortoise and Burmese Star Tortoise—making it one of Singapore Zoo’s exhibits with greater conservation and educational values. Other threatened species at the new attraction include the Elongated Tortoise and the Yellow-footed Tortoise. The naturalistic exhibits feature rock walls, habitat specific planting, and climate-controlled micro-habitats, including special lighting, heating with temperature gradient and humidity control, to create the ideal home away from home for these delicate species to thrive.
 
Some of these tortoises share their homes with other compatible reptiles, such as the Rock Monitor, Black and White Tegu, Green Iguana and Veiled Chameleon. This provides inter-species interaction, which is a great form of enrichment for the inhabitants, as well as providing a more interesting viewing experience to the guests.
PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

In addition to featuring threatened species, Tortoise Shell-ter is also a sanctuary for some former-victims of the illegal wildlife trade, which have been confiscated and sent to Singapore Zoo, such as the Indian Star Tortoise. 

In the wild, these land-dwelling reptiles’ shells (called carapaces) shield them against predators but they are no match for the combination of habitat loss and human exploitation, including unsustainable consumption and poaching for the illegal pet trade.

Aside from showcasing these chelonians at the Tortoise Shell-ter, Singapore Zoo also contributes to safeguarding the future of other threatened species of turtles through conservation breeding and the maintenance of assurance colonies. The latter refers to the safekeeping of endangered species populations under human care in case something happens to the already diminished numbers in the wild. Singapore Zoo has a good track record of breeding threatened chelonian species, both terrestrial (tortoises) and aquatic (turtles and terrapins) and has recently had the first hatching for the critically endangered Painted Terrapin. Other threatened species bred at the Zoo include the endangered Elongated Tortoise and Burmese Mountain Tortoise and the critically endangered Southern River Terrapin.

PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE
The park’s breeding programmes offer the possibility of reintroducing the animals to the wild whenever their safety can be ensured in their natural habitat. In addition, Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) actively supports on-site and off-site breeding and reintroduction programmes in a few Southeast Asian countries. It also collaborates with trade monitoring organisations to raise awareness on illegal wildlife trade of tortoises.

Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Life Sciences Officer, WRS, said: “Within the span of just one human generation, many turtle and tortoise species have been decimated to near extinction through our activities. We are working in the zoo as well as in their native habitats to prevent these ancient creatures from disappearing from earth altogether.  Through the Tortoise Shell-ter we would like to highlight their plights to our guests and to engage them to join us in our effort to save the species.”

World Turtle Day, observed every 23 May, aims to celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises, and their disappearing habitats around the world. Singapore Zoo commemorated World Turtle Day this year, by hosting three special Keeper Talks for guests where they were able to find out more about these rare tortoises and their plight in the wild.


About Singapore Zoo

Set in a rainforest environment, Singapore Zoo's world-famous "Open Concept” offers the opportunity to experience and be inspired by the wonders of nature. Home to more than 2,800 specimens over 300 species, 26% of which are threatened, the Zoo has attained a strong reputation internationally for its conservation initiatives and breeding programmes. To better meet the healthcare needs of its animals and working towards its aspiration to become a leading global centre of excellence for veterinary healthcare and research, a purpose-built Wildlife Healthcare and Research Centre was set up in March 2006. Annually, over 1.7 million visitors enjoy experiential learning journeys at the 26-hectare award-winning Zoo. Singapore Zoo is part of Wildlife Reserves Singapore. The Zoo is a designated rescued wildlife centre by the governing authority.

Singapore Zoo is located at 80 Mandai Lake Road Singapore 729826. More information can be found at www.zoo.com.sg

ABOUT WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE
 
Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) is the holding company of award-winning attractions Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari, River Safari and Singapore Zoo. WRS is dedicated to the management of world-class leisure attractions that foster conservation and research while educating visitors about animals and their habitats. 
A self-funded organisation, WRS also collaborates with various partners, organisations and institutions aimed at protecting local and global biodiversity. Each year, Jurong Bird Park welcomes approximately 800,000 visitors, Night Safari 1.1 million, River Safari 1 million, and Singapore Zoo 1.7 million. The organisation’s latest attraction is River Safari, which officially opened on 28 February 2014.
 

The WAHM, Dulce Javier- Ansis

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