Giant manatees to be showcased at River Safari

SINGAPORE - Seven manatees have been sucessfully relocated to their new home at the River Safari's Amazon Flooded Forest exhibit, Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) announced on Wednesday.

The big move took 20 zookeepers and veterinarians more than two days to complete. It involved shifting a 21-year-old female manatee, named Eva, to the new exihibit that is four times bigger than her previous exhibit at the Singapore Zoo.

Weighing in at 1,100kg, Eva is the heaviest manatee in the park. She arrived at the zoo in 1994.

She and 10 other manatees, also known as sea cows, will be housed in the Amazon Flooded Forest exhibit, which showcases the annual flooding of the Amazon rainforest where fish and other creatures swim amongst giant trees.

The large, slow-moving aquatic mammals spend six to eight hours a day grazing on aquatic plants; and adults typically consume 50-100kg of vegetation a day, said WRS.

Listed as a vulnerable aquatic species, manatee numbers have been on a decline in the last century due to hunting pressures. In the wild, they often get trapped in commercial fishing nets or accidentally hit by motorboats. Through captive breeding, the River Safari hopes to contribute to growth in the manatee population.

The park now holds one of the largest collections of manatees, with eleven manatees in total.

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