Juvenile giraffe pair emigrate from India to Singapore Zoo

It seems like the pandemic is unable to bring all immigration to a halt as the Singapore Zoo recently welcomed two young Rothschild’s giraffes from India’s Mysuru Zoo.

With fewer than 2,000 of the subspecies left in the wild, this latest addition to the Singapore Zoo’s bachelor herd contributes to the managed programme for this threatened subspecies of giraffes. 

New kids on the block Balaji (leftmost) and Adhil (rightmost) explore Singapore Zoo’s giraffe exhibit while a towering Jubilee (middle) keeps a watchful eye over the juvenile brothers. Photo courtesy: Wildlife Reserves Singapore
New kids on the block Balaji (leftmost) and Adhil (rightmost) explore Singapore Zoo’s giraffe exhibit while a towering Jubilee (middle) keeps a watchful eye over the juvenile brothers. Photo courtesy: Wildlife Reserves Singapore

Following a 22-hour inter-state road journey and seven-day sea voyage, the healthy males, Balaji and Adhil, arrived safely on Singapore shores on May 26, 2021. Serving a three-month quarantine since their arrival, both giraffes have since settled well into their new habitat, according to a release.

Zoo guests can come see them at the giraffe exhibit in the park’s Wild Africa zone from today.

This is the latest instance  in a  collaboration between Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) and Mysuru Zoo dating back to 2010. Discussions on the animal exchange kickstarted in 2018, long before the birth of the calves in 2020.

The giraffes, both slightly over a year of age, will be a part of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) ex-situ programme (EEP) for the species, which aims to maintain healthy and sustainable populations of animals under human care for both conservation and educational purposes. 

Wendy Chua, Zoology Curator, WRS, said that zoological institutions have had to rise above the numerous challenges posed by the pandemic situation.

“While the COVID-19 situation has impacted the ways in which international zoos collaborate, it has also reiterated the importance of such collaborations to help conserve nature and biodiversity. We hope that guests will also take the chance to learn about the plight of endangered subspecies like the Rothschild’s giraffe, and the importance of conservation efforts,” she added.

One such challenge was a dearth of suitable air freights to transport the lofty species during the pandemic. As there was a limited window period to ship the fast-growing youngsters before they outgrew all forms of transport, the team explored the option of surface transport.

Detailed preparations were made to minimise the risks and to ensure the journey was as smooth as possible for the giraffes. Road recces and a dry-run simulation involving mock-ups of crates were conducted, in order to map out the best possible route to Mandai once the giraffes had arrived at Jurong port.

The two yearlings were accompanied by two experienced WRS animal caretakers during their nine-day long trip to Singapore in custom-designed crates with adjustable tops to allow the lanky animals to stretch to their full heights for most of the journey while allowing the crates to ‘duck’ when clearing road infrastructures.  

Parmasivam Ramasamy, Curator of Herbivores, WRS, who tended to the giraffes throughout the voyage, shared, “We are very excited to welcome these gentle giants to Singapore Zoo, and have since introduced them to our resident father-and-son duo, Marco and Jubilee.” 

The pair has been adopted by Kuok Singapore Limited Group, whose shipping line PACC Line Pte Ltd was engaged in the pair’s sea voyage from India to Singapore.

Balaji, which means “strength” in Hindi, was named after an Indian prince. Lively and playful Adhil was named after a star in the constellation Andromeda and shares the same name as one of PACC Line’s fleet of vessels.


Image 2 (above): Jubilee has naturally slipped into a big brother role and is showing the young brothers the ropes as they settle into their new home at Singapore Zoo’s Wild Africa zone. 

Here, he shares a picture-perfect moment with Adhil (in foreground) while Balaji (partially hidden) forages in the back. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE