Singapore Zoo’s herd of five female elephants has given resounding trunks up to their additional roles as scriptwriters and directors for the revamped elephant presentation. The revised show features various enrichment options which allow the elephants to voluntarily participate—which means they get to decide when and what they would like to do.
Keepers will play supporting roles outside the exhibit, serving mainly to interpret the elephants’ actions to guests. Aside from introducing the audience to the elephants’ personalities and quirks, keepers will demonstrate positive reinforcement methods to engage the elephants and encourage them to display natural behaviours such as laying in the water or leveraging on a log to reach their favourite fruit. To make the show more interactive, a new volunteer segment has been included, where a lucky visitor will get to enjoy a close encounter with one of the modern day mammoths.
The reimagined elephant presentation, which was officially launched in celebration of Elephant Appreciation Day, is part of Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s (WRS) continuing efforts to provide world class care for her animals through improved animal welfare. It is also in line with WRS evolving the care of her elephants towards the protected contact elephant management system.
Protected contact management means there will always be a physical safety barrier between the keepers and the elephants, which allows caretakers to continue providing quality care for the elephants while ensuring a greater level of safety for both elephants and humans.
The new show format also represents a key step in WRS’ progressive implementation of theprotected contact elephant management system. The complete implementation of the protected contact system will take another three to five years as it will involve major redesign and construction of the elephant exhibits and back-of-house facilities. Singapore Zoo and sister park Night Safari will be among the first zoological institutions in Asia to implement the protected contact management system for all their elephants. Among the modern zoo community, this method is currently deemed to be the safest way to manage elephants while ensuring proper animal care and welfare.
Currently, Night Safari’s two bull elephants are fully managed under protected contact. Two-year-old Neha, the youngest female in Night Safari, has also been conditioned under protected contact to allow vets and keepers easier access for medical procedures.
Visitors can enjoy the new elephant presentation at Singapore Zoo’s Elephants of Asia exhibit twice daily at 11.30am and 3.30pm and take part in elephant feeding sessions which happen after each show. Additional feeding times take place at 9.15am, 1.30pm and 4.30pm.