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Golden ZOObilee: Singapore Zoo hails community spirit and the work of many hands as the beacon for the wildlife in its care

21 June 2023
Following the kick-off of Golden ZOObilee festivities last month to mark Singapore Zoo’s 50th anniversary this year, today the zoo shines the spotlight on the people who have and continue to act for nature, protect wildlife, and are core to its growth as a zoological institution. 

(From left) Senior Keeper Ong Chew Chuan, Junior Keeper Krystofer Loh, Group CEO of Mandai Wildlife Group Mike Barclay, Deputy Chairman of Mandai Park Holdings Tan Chuan-Jin, and Junior Keeper Lim Jia Ning with the special ZOObilee artpiece drawn by the keepers. 

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

At a community event graced by Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Deputy Chairman of Mandai Park Holdings, the zoo’s volunteers, local students and staff members came together to celebrate the golden anniversary and unveiled a commemorative art piece drawn by three staff from the Animal Care team. Well-wishes for Singapore Zoo were also penned on plantable seed paper which will take root in the park.

“Over the past fifty years, the Singapore Zoo has remained relevant and world-renowned because of our staff, our volunteers and our sponsors, who are all committed to caring for animals and educating visitors on how people and wildlife can thrive together,” said Mike Barclay, Group CEO of Mandai Wildlife Group.  “Indeed, this community of volunteers and sponsors has been a positive force for wildlife, contributing almost 160,000 man-hours and $30 million in the last decade alone.”

Mandai Wildlife Group’s first volunteer initiative, the docent programme, started in 1997. Since then, the range of volunteering opportunities across the wildlife parks has expanded to encompass guest engagement focusing on science-based education, animal care, veterinary and research roles.

Currently, Mandai Wildlife Group has close to 400 passionate volunteers including about 250 docents (21 years and above) and almost 120 Conservation Ambassadors (aged 15 to 21). The oldest volunteer at age 86 has dedicated 26 years to engaging park guests on wildlife conservation. On average, the volunteers spend at least four years with Mandai Wildlife Group. Thus far this year, the Group has welcomed 90 new volunteers and expects another 80 to come on board in the coming months, in line with about 100 to 150 new additions each year. 

The volunteers’ work goes hand in hand with the staff in providing the utmost care for the wildlife and overseeing their well-being and development. From just two dozen keepers in 1973 when Singapore Zoo opened its doors, the wildlife park now has over 100 animal caretakers who are part of its big, wild family.  

The spirit of people from all walks of life brought together by a shared purpose is encapsulated in the classic black-and-white art piece titled ‘A World With Wildlife Is A Better World’ thoughtfully created by Junior Keepers Lim Jia Ning and Krystofer Loh, as well as Senior Keeper Ong Chew Chuan. The artwork features iconic residents of Singapore Zoo such as Ah Meng the Sumatran Orangutan, Komali the Asian Elephant and Jubilee the Rothschild's Giraffe, together with species under the artists’ care. These include the Linne’s Two-toed Sloth, Malayan Sun Bear and Giant Prickly Stick Insect. The intricate details form a cohesive amalgamation of the keepers’ individual artistic styles to highlight beauty in diversity, and the zoo’s continued commitment to protecting wildlife.

At the community event at the Animal Playground in Singapore Zoo today, participants wrote their well-wishes for the next 50 years on plantable seed paper and attached them around ‘A World With Wildlife Is A Better World’. This commemorative piece to mark the historic milestone will be displayed outside the Singapore Zoo retail shop, near the entrance to the park.

Visitors are invited to also take part in penning down and planting their well-wishes for Singapore Zoo at a drop-in activity station on 24 and 25 June 2023, 10am to 2pm at the Boat Dock near the Babirusa exhibit. The seed paper will eventually be planted on Singapore Zoo grounds to symbolise all the hopes and well-wishes taking root.

Singapore Zoo’s Golden Jubilee celebrations are ongoing. Don’t miss ART-ZOO Happy ZOObilee ongoing at the park till 27 August! Bookings have also opened for the Zoo Adventure Tour: ZOObilee edition (27 June to 27 August 2023). Keep an eye out for the upcoming brand new Backstage Pass – Incredible Invertebrates tour (sales start on 6 July 2023) and Mandai Wildlife Run (registration starts on 27 June 2023).

Visitors can spot the number of species in this one-of-a-kind artpiece created by keepers Lim Jia Ning, Ong Chew Chuan and Krystofer Loh when it is displayed near the Singapore Zoo entrance.

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Deputy Chairman of Mandai Park Holdings guides students from Presbyterian Preschool Services (Yishun) in attaching their seed paper to the art piece, adding a splash of colour around it. 

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

Students from Presbyterian Preschool Services (Yishun) writing and drawing well-wishes for Singapore Zoo on plantable seed paper. 

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

(From left) Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Deputy Chairman of Mandai Park Holdings, Mr Mike Barclay, Group CEO of Mandai Wildlife Group and Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, DCEO (Life Sciences and Operations) and Chief Life Sciences Officer, Mandai Wildlife Group engage students from Preschool by the Park (Evans) in a symbolic planting by placing soil and their seed paper well-wishes into flower pots.

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

A guest gets up close and personal with a red winged green giant stick insect during a preview of the upcoming Backstage Pass – Incredible Invertebrates tour, which will launch on 6 August 2023. Sales start 6 July 2023.     

 Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

Some of the animal residents wish Singapore Zoo a happy birthday in their own way. Jati the Asian Elephant unfurls a celebratory banner set against decorations of fruits and flowers, surrounded by Gambir, Intan and Aprila.

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

Nupela the Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo enjoys her treats placed in a monkey pot. Her second pregnancy adds to the joyous occasion this Golden ZOObilee.

Photo credit: Mandai Wildlife Group

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