Celebrating Republic's native 'children'

Slender squirrel
PHOTO: The Straits Times

After a year of Golden Jubilee festivities, the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum is ending SG50 with a celebration of the flora and fauna native to Singapore.

From tomorrow, visitors to the museum located within the National University of Singapore can redeem a free copy of the book Temasekia: 50 Plants And Animals Native To Singapore by presenting an adult admission ticket at the reception desk.

The 87-page book features plant and animal species related to Singapore in three different ways. They could be species new to science based on specimens collected in Singapore, species found only in Singapore, or species that bear a scientific name related to the history, geography or cultural heritage of Singapore.

There are 2,000 copies of Temasekia up for grabs. The book's title references Singapore's old name, Temasek, and "kia" refers to child in Hokkien. Literally translated, Temasekia means "Singapore's children".

"This book is a celebration of the original Singaporeans that live here. It is an account of what they are, how they are discovered, and the men and women responsible," wrote Professor Peter Ng, head of the museum, in the foreword.

The museum tapped the SG50 Fund to produce Temasekia and to sponsor 2,000 copies of Stacey Goes To The Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum - a children's book which visitors can also get for free upon presentation of a child's admission ticket.

Mr Marcus Chua, the museum's curator of mammals and birds and the coordinator who put together the multi-author Temasekia, said: "The museum always wanted to highlight the growing list of species that were first discovered here, and SG50 presented a good opportunity to highlight how Singapore is a centre of biodiversity discovery."

Other plants and animals in Temasekia


Compared to its more widespread cousin, the plantain squirrel, the slender squirrel can be found only at the Singapore Botanic Gardens Rainforest, the Bukit Timah and Central Catchment nature reserves, as well as surrounding forested areas.

This forest-dwelling rodent lives mainly in trees, and moves among them like a gymnast: bounding up tree trunks and leaping from branch to branch. It can grow up to 28cm, and has been observed confronting snakes by shrieking and flicking its tail.


This tree has "patriotic flowers" which bloom with a red heart surrounded by white petals. This nationally critically endangered plant grows in freshwater swamp forests found only in Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia. In the wild, its flowers appear only twice a year, although they bloom freely when cultivated under favourable conditions. View a specimen at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum's heritage gallery.


This animal can be found only in Singapore. A live Temasek tree snail appears green, as the colour of the animal shows through the translucent shell. This allows it to camouflage itself against the leaves of trees which it inhabits. A dead snail, however, appears yellowish. Visitors can see a specimen at the heritage gallery on the mezzanine level of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.


This article was first published on December 25, 2015. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.