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Releasing animals do more harm than good

30 May 2007 - With Vesak Day approaching, the National Parks Board (NParks), together with its partners PUB, the national water agency, SPCA, SPH Foundation, and the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari, would like to urge members of the public to refrain from releasing animals into nature reserves and reservoirs. While the intention behind such acts may be kind, it actually causes more harm than good.

“Most of the animals do not survive after they are released. Some of the animals are domesticated and unable to fend for themselves in the forest.” Said Ms Sharon Chan, Assistant Director of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, NParks. It is estimated that 90% of released animals die within a day.

Dr Richard McCort, Head Veterinarian of the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari said, “These animals are usually not native to Singapore and as a result of their diet and habitat differences, they would suffer in the wild. We have often seen many of these released animals that are subsequently caught to be affected with dermatitis, calcium deficiency, loss of limbs and skin lesions.”

Ms Chan added: “This act of releasing animals will mean that more animals are captured from the wild to be sold in shops. The time spent in captivity is stressful for these animals.”

The introduction of non-native animals into the nature reserves and reservoirs also affects the ecological balance. Some of the introduced animals that do survive are usually more aggressive or prolific breeders (such as the red-eared terrapins) and may compete with the native animals for space and food, or prey on the native animals.

“It is important to maintain the ecosystem in the reservoirs. That is why the public should not release animals into the reservoir waters as they could upset the ecosystem. Any impact on the ecosystem could also affect the quality of the reservoir waters," said Tan Nguan Sen, PUB´s Director for Catchment and Waterways.

To raise public awareness on the detrimental effects of releasing animals into our nature reserves and reservoirs, NParks is working with its partners, volunteers, and religious groups to conduct educational and outreach activities, which include distributing brochures and putting up posters at various locations. In addition, more than 100 rangers and volunteers from NParks, PUB, the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari together with SPH Foundation Conservation Ambassadors from Pioneer Junior College, will be at MacRitchie Reservoir as well as other locations to advise people not to release animals into the nature reserves and reservoirs and to help educate the public on the harmful consequences of such acts.

The Conservation Ambassadors student volunteer programme was launched by the Singapore Zoo in 2005 and sponsored by Singapore Press Holdings Foundation, a charity foundation set up by Singapore Press Holdings. Under the programme, students from participating schools undergo training courses on conservation work by the Singapore Zoo.

For more information on the nature reserve and ‘No release of animals´, please contact:

Ms Jean Louise Lee
Communications Manager
National Parks Board
Tel: 64717815 or HP: 97313021

For information on SPH Foundation-sponsored Conservation Ambassadors programme, please contact:

Lok May Kuen
Assistant Director, Education
Singapore Zoo
Tel: 6360 8533
HP: 9450 8497

Chen Jingwen
Assistant Manager
Corporate Communications
Singapore Press Holdings/SPH Foundation
Tel: 6319 1226
HP: 9743 5503