Singapore - Singapore Zoo is celebrating the new arrivals of eight threatened primates – a Goeldi’s monkey, a purple-faced langur, two pairs of cotton-top tamarin twins, a lion-tailed macaque and a chimpanzee. These births are significant as they are a boost to the global captive population of these primates.
The Goeldi’s monkey is classified as vulnerable; the lion-tailed macaque and the chimpanzee are classified as endangered, and the purple-faced langur and cotton-top tamarins are considered critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).
Mr Biswajit Guha, Assistant Director of Zoology says, “We are elated to have successfully bred these threatened primates, one of which is listed as one of the 25 most critically endangered primates. Captive breeding of endangered animals is an important pillar of Singapore Zoo’s mission towards wildlife conservation. The births reaffirm the work of our zoologists and vets, who have created ideal living conditions for the animals by carefully observing their behaviour and managing the diet and habitats. This is even more reason to visit the park as this strengthens our reputation as the zoo with the largest collection of primate species globally.”
Captive breeding of endangered animals is a cornerstone of conservation. Singapore Zoo has an active programme to increase numbers in captivity so a sustainable population can be maintained. To date, it has successfully bred a long list of animals, including endangered ones such as the orangutan, proboscis monkey, king cobra, rhino iguana, Malayan tiger and Malayan tapir. Many have been exchanged with other reputable zoos for coordinated breeding programmes.
Both notoriously hard to breed, the births of the zoo’s third purple-faced langur and the seventh Goeldi’s monkey is a huge boost to the conservation and animal management efforts undertaken by the Singapore Zoo. Guests can catch a glimpse of the young primates with their mothers at their respective enclosures, with the exception of the purple-faced langurs, which are housed in the Primate Breeding Complex, off-exhibit.
Also known as Goeldi’s marmoset. This petite primate is found in the Upper Amazon basin region. It is usually dark brown or black in colour with an average body length of between 20-23cm, and a tail length of between 25-30cm. An adult weighs only about 0.35kg.
Goeldi’s monkeys share similar traits with tamarins — they have claws instead of flattened nails on their fingers. It is the only small primate with 36 teeth; other marmosets and tamarins have 32. Their diet consists primarily of fruits, insects and small vertebrates.
IUCN reports that the species will decline by at least 30% over the coming 18 years (three generations) due primarily to habitat loss.
The purple-faced langur is a long-tailed arboreal primate. Characterised by its loud barking call, it is sometimes mistaken for the roar of a predator such as a leopard. Unlike its name, the langur is mainly brown, with a dark face-mask and paler lower face. The purple-faced langur is found in Sri Lanka and was once a common species, found even in suburban Colombo and in the wet zone villages.
However, rapid urbanisation has taken a toll and the population is predicted to decline by more than 50% over three generations (36 years, given a generation length of 12 years) due to a combination of habitat loss and hunting, according to IUCN.
Found in the dense tropical forests of the Western Ghats Mountains of India, the black and white lion-tailed macaque not only has a tail that resembles that of a lion but also an impressive white mane. Highly vocal, the lion-tailed macaque has at least 17 different calls to communicate with one another. It feeds on fruits, leaves, bark, insects, eggs, tree frogs and lizards. When gathering food, it has to leave the safety of its treetop home and forage at all levels of the forest. It has cheek pouches to store food and these allow it to gather a large amount of food in a short time, thereby reducing its exposure to predators.
The lion-tailed macaque is endangered because of habitat destruction.
Endemic to South America, the cotton-top tamarin is so named because of the crest of white fur on its head. This strikingly coiffed tamarin is one of the smallest and most endangered primates, having lost 75% of its original habitat to deforestation.
These tamarins travel in groups of two to 13 individuals and defend small home territories. Twins are born after a gestation period of about 140 days. The male and older offspring help the female to carry the babies until they are old enough to forage. To obtain moisture, tamarins lick wet leaves instead of descending to the ground to drink so as to avoid terrestrial predators. Their diet includes fruit, insects, leaves and buds, small lizards and nectar.
Current populations are estimated at about 1,800 in captivity. Cotton-top tamarins are threatened by rapid deforestation and collection for the illegal pet trade.
Highly intelligent and among the few animals known to use tools, chimpanzees (chimps) are one of four great apes found in the African forests. Their diet comprises mainly plant matter but they are not herbivorous. They have been known to hunt smaller primates such as colobus monkeys.
Chimps can be affectionate and at times a little callous. Gestures displayed by chimps include hugs, kisses and pats on the back. Hunting for bushmeat and the illegal pet trade are serious threats to their survival.
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 over 2,500 specimens from 315 species, 16% 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. In 2008, 1.6 million visitors enjoyed the experiential learning experience at the 28-hectare award-winning Zoo. Singapore Zoo is part of Wildlife Reserves Singapore. The Zoo is designated a wildlife rescue 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
Cotton top tamarins Bjorn – Mr Bjorn Olesen
Goeldi’s monkey Bjorn – Mr Bjorn Olesen
Purple-faced laungur WRS – Wildlife Reserves Singapore
To view Singapore Zoo's web page on Zoo and Aquarium Visitor, go to: http://www.zandavisitor.com/forumtopicdetail-1378-Singapore_Zoo
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