Two Philippine eagles to be loaned to Singapore’s Jurong Bird Park

Sambisig, one of the eagles loaned to Jurong Bird Park. Photo: Philippine Eagle Foundation FB page
Sambisig, one of the eagles loaned to Jurong Bird Park. Photo: Philippine Eagle Foundation FB page

The Philippines will be loaning two Philippine eagles to an aviary in Singapore in an effort to conserve the critically endangered species.

The Philippines’ Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) yesterday signed a loan agreement with Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) to allow the transfer of 15-year-old male eagle Geothermica and 17-year-old female eagle Sambisig to Jurong Bird Park, managed by WRS.

The signing of the loan agreement also marks the 50th year of diplomatic ties between the Philippines and Singapore.

The two raptors will be brought from the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) in Malagos, Davao City, to Singapore on June 4, The Straits Times reported.

Geothermica and Sambisig will be loaned for 10 years, during which they will remain the property of the Philippine government. Should they have offspring, the chicks will be sent back to the Philippines while the parents will remain in Singapore, reported Rappler. 

Philippine eagles are the country’s national birds. They mate for life, and it typically takes two years before they produce an egg. Eagles usually then wait for their offspring to become independent — a period of about two years — before having another.

Beyond being an act of goodwill between the two countries, the transfer of the eagles, which were born in captivity, is also being done in order to protect them from possible disease outbreaks or natural calamities that may occur in the Philippines, reported The Philippine Daily Inquirer. One example of a disease outbreak that hit the Philippines was a strain of avian influenza in 2017 in which 37,000 birds died.

“This serves as an insurance policy for our eagles, so that if something bad happens to our captive population here, we have a set of gene pool outside of the country that we can rely on and continue propagating,” said Dennis Salvador, executive director of the PEF.

The DENR, meanwhile, said there are plans afoot to loan another pair of eagles to another foreign institution but did not provide further details.

Geothermica and Sambisig — who the PEF previously attempted to mate with no success — will be put in separate enclosures at Jurong Bird Park at first, then later housed together if the staff sees a relationship forming between the two of them. An avian care team will oversee their breeding.

The Philippine eagle is one of the rarest eagles in the world, according to the PEF. It’s known for its seven-foot wingspan, powerful talons, and eyes that could see eight times clearer than those belonging to humans. There are about 400 of them left in the wild, but they are rapidly decreasing due to deforestation and hunting.

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