We find out about Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s animal adoption programme, and how to be a part of it.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Dog, cat or rabbit, the bond between a human and a mammal is something extraordinary. Now, imagine if that mammal was a majestic elephant, a hippo or a manatee and you had the chance to adopt it – just as Chinese film director and writer Han Han did.

He recently went public about his cloud adoption of two hippos from the Qingdao Forest Wildlife World in Shangdong, China, on Weibo, putting the special adoption programme for wildlife launched on Feb 29 this year back in the public eye.

Just as deserving of our attention is Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s (WRS) animal adoption and sponsorship programme, which allows individuals and organisations to adopt animals or sponsor entire attractions in one of the parks run by WRS: Jurong Bird Park, River Safari, Night Safari and the Singapore Zoo.

Of course, adopting, in this case means, you can’t take your adoptee home with you. Instead, the animals stay in their respective parks, where monetary contributions – the yearly commitment for adopting an Asian elephant is $30,000 while an orangutan is $25,000 – go towards their upkeep.

This includes everything from nutrition and healthcare, to animal husbandry – all of which are managed and maintained by salaried professionals. Plus, it’s not just the animals in the parks that benefit from the adoption. Part of the funds is channelled into regional conservation projects that work to protect threatened species.

One of the greatest joys of adopting – besides knowing you helped make the world a better place – is to see your adopted animal thrive. WRS runs engagement programmes that allow adopters to interact with the animals and their keepers – and participate in the animal’s enrichment care.

This can include target training with Goodwell Tree Kangaroos, which allows keepers to conduct visual health checks with minimal stress to the animal – and, for certified divers, going into a manatee’s habitat to install feeders.

To acknowledge an adoption, adopters receive a card granting free access to the parks and a plaque installed at the exhibit – complete with the option for an unveiling ceremony.

Current adopters include the Khoo Teck Puat Foundation and Goodwood Park Hotel Limited, which have adopted several animals and an entire exhibit – the Fishing Cat Trail at the Night Safari – to support the WRS’s conservation and education endeavours.

Conservation is one of the main pillars of their foundation’s philanthropic work and the Khoo family’s relationship with WRS stretches back to the 1980s. “The first Brahminy Kite Goodwood Park Hotel adopted was named Ronnie after Ronnie Chew, the hotel’s maintenance manager in the 1980s. He found the bird on the premises and took care of it briefly after reporting the find to the Jurong Bird Park,” says the hotel’s spokesperson.

Since then, the hotel and the foundation have also adopted a red panda at the River Safari, the fishing cat and Ronnie’s offspring, Ronnie II at Jurong Bird Park.

Interested adopters can get in touch with the WRS Partnerships Developments team at
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01 A female Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo enjoys her enrichment activitiy – food wedged inside a rattan wreath.
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02 Manatee adopters can go behind the scenes at River Safari’s Amazon Flooded Forest for an up-close feeding session.


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A single elephant eats up to 150kg of feed a day. Its diet includes pellets (a special supplement with important vitamins and minerals to balance out the diet), vegetation, fruits and vegetables, and wheat bran. For the WRS’ entire collection of 15,000 animals, nearly 200,000kg of sustenance is required every month.

And operating all four parks requires about 1,100 full-time employees, including a fully-staffed animal hospital and veterinary team that conducts regular check-ups.
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Meet Makaia and Nupela – two matchmade Goodfellow’s tree kangaroos at the Singapore Zoo that are up for adoption. Critically endangered, with only about 50 in zoos worldwide, they are one of the rarest species under human care.

Native to Papua New Guinea and Queensland, Australia, the kangaroos have been sent around the world as part of a Global Species Management Plan in the event of a major decline in the wild native population.