SINGAPORE - Elephant rides and other activities where they are taken out of their exhibits at the Singapore Zoo will cease in Jan 2015, with a protected contact management system to be put in place over the next three to five years.
Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) said in a media statement that the method, which will also be implemented at the Night Safari, is currently deemed to be the safest way to manage elephants in the modern zoo community.
Under the protected contact management system, elephants will be motivated by positive reinforcements such as food. All staff training and interaction with the elephants will also be conducted through a physical safety barrier.
WRS said the cessation of the activities at Singapore Zoo is to allow the elephants to spend more time in the exhibits and to socialise among themselves.
However, zoo visitors will still be able to enjoy the Elephants at Work and Play show, and take part in the feeding sessions which happens after each show. The show is available twice daily at 11.30am and 3.30pm.
Singapore Zoo and Night Safari will become the first zoological institutions in Asia to implement a protected contact management system for all elephants in its collection.
Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Chief Life Sciences Officer, WRS, said the decision was made after an internal review by their elephant managers and healthcare experts.
He said the committee found that the system offers a safer work environment for the elephant keepers.
The keepers will have access to the elephants for their daily care, although separated by a safety barrier.
Dr Cheng said the new exhibits will be designed to let visitors have up-close encounters with the elephants, and "give us the chance to offer new behind-the-scenes experiences."