Baby boom

news: Baby boom

FOLLOWING a strict breeding programme, involving some of the world’s rarest animals, Omega Park in Monchique can finally boast success. It has been an uphill struggle for the staff at the park in recent years, trying to match such endangered species with their perfect mates. But not only have they witnessed some successful births, now there are more babies on the way!

A Javan Langur gave birth to a very healthy baby last year and is currently expecting another one this month. On January 1 this year, a red-bellied tamarind was born and, according to Jeanett Bech, marketing manager of Omega Park, many more will soon be on the way. “We have had brilliant success with our breeding programmes,” she explained. “It is very difficult to breed animals once they are in captivity because they are no longer wild, so their behaviour adapts slightly. But we are all very excited about the new babies and glad to have had success during some difficult times.”

Alarming fires

Indeed, the fires, which raged again last year in Monchique, were literally metres away from the park’s border. “We were so lucky that none of the animals and their specially created natural habitat were harmed,” commented Jeanett. “The park’s aim is to keep animals safe, so to have such danger on our doorstop was terribly alarming.” Luckily, the bombeiros kept the flames at bay and the animals came out of their ordeal unharmed and perfectly healthy for the breeding programmes.

Save the Sifakas

The park’s very popular pair of crowned Sifakas has also reacted well to each other and the staff suspects that the female is pregnant – they are now awaiting confirmation. There are only three endangered animal parks that look after these amazing creatures and only around 100 Sifakas are left in the wild. “The statistics speak for themselves,” said Jeanett. “Our main campaign this year is ‘Save the Sifaka’ and we are dedicating our forces into putting this programme into action and increasing their numbers. We need to act now to give this gentle creature a chance.”

Important year ahead

This year will be a big one for Omega Park, which, as well as continuing its strict breeding programme, is also investing in improvement and expansion plans. A team of tree surgeons is currently ridding the park of all the pine trees, which may hold the infamous processionary caterpillars.

The park has also launched an adoption scheme and a VIP membership plan, intended to greatly improve its funding and service, and to give the general public a chance to become more involved. Omega Park is also starting a ‘behind the scenes’ tour of the park for the public to see its work up close.

• For more information about Omega Park, call 282 911 327. George Fletcher