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Singapore Swap

Kylie Martin
Keeper Diaries - Posted 1 April 2015

Kylie12 dogs

Our five dogs, Tano, Tatu, Mac, Mazi and Ishe, were all born at Hamilton Zoo. Their parents Zuri and Hasani came from De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Trust in South Africa in 2003. They were great parents, successfully raising four litters of puppies at Hamilton Zoo. As keepers, we have watched these boys grow up and develop their own personalities, so it was sad to see them leave us.

There was lots of organising to fit all the timelines together. There were crates to be built, health checks to be done, permits to be obtained and flights to be booked. Once the dates were confirmed, we scheduled health checks in the 30-day period before they departed.

Kylie1 dogs2  Kylie2 dogs2  Kylie3 dogs2

The boys were darted with anaesthetic for their health checks and weighed.

We gave them thorough head-to-toe examinations, weighed them, checked their microchips and took blood samples. This involved darting them with an anaesthetic – they are wild dogs after all and can’t be handled otherwise. 

Kylie4 dogs  Kylie5 dogs

Veterinarian Dr Mike and I taking blood                                         Beautiful teeth for tearing meat

They all passed with flying colours, even our old boys. We were quite surprised how much the youngest dog Ishe weighed. He was almost 5 kg heavier than his older brothers.

The big move day was approaching fast while everyone behind the scenes continued organising the logistics of the transfer. Our transactions officer, Morele, especially had her work cut out for her.

The flight was booked for 12 February 2015, departing early in the morning so they would arrive in Singapore at a reasonable time. Auckland to Singapore direct is still 13 hours long and over 8,500 km. The day before was a long day for all. We started crating them late on the afternoon of 11 February so we were finished as the light began to fade. This required another anaesthetic because they had to be treated with Frontline (flea treatment) applied to the back of the neck, and MPI (Ministry for Primary Industries) vet Katie also had to check them. But all went smoothly.

Each dog reacted differently once they were in their crates. Mac and Mazi stood up as soon as they could and continued to move themselves around. The old boys Tatu and Tano started chewing on their water bowls and Ishe sulked. We left the wooden doors off the crates, just leaving mesh, while they recovered.

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When the transport truck arrived, we put all of the slides and locks in place for their tractor trip to the truck in the care of groundskeeper Ross.

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They were all strapped to the truck for the drive up to Auckland Airport with Keeper Delwyn and Team Leader Mammals Catherine.

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They arrived safely in Singapore the next day. They all came out of their crates well and found comfort in each other’s company, forming a cohesive pack. Yeah!


A few weeks earlier keeper Andy and Morele collected precious cargo from Auckland Airport. A female fishing cat was imported from Singapore to become part of the Australasian breeding programme. We already have a grumpy male fishing cat named Besar for her to pair with.

She was brought off the plane on this trolley and Andy and Morele had their first glimpse of her through a ventilation hole in her crate.

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 Photos supplied by Andy

She spent the first 7 days at Hamilton Zoo in our quarantine facility – a requirement for a new felid coming into the country. She proved to be a very shy cat, but we thought she was beautiful and so she was named “Indah” which means beautiful in Indonesian.

Kylie16 dogs  Kylie17 dogs

As she passed all the quarantine requirements, we took her down to live in the enclosure next to Besar. She wasn’t so keen to come out of her crate at first, but eventually she ventured out for the first glimpse of her new Waikato home.

I don’t think boofhead Besar has really noticed that she’s there, but maybe when she starts cycling he might become a little more interested. She is currently off display while she gets used to us and we get used to her. She has some great hiding spots in the willow trees and flax bushes, sometimes proving very difficult to find. She loves her food and pulling her blankets out of her house.

And hopefully in the future we will hear the pitter-patter of little fishing cat paws.

Kylie18 dogs  Kylie19 dogs

 Spot the fishing cat                                                  A rare glimpse of her not hiding


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