Seen & Heard in Singapore – Island Ecologies Today and in Time of William Farquhar at the National Museum of Singapore!

The William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings at the Goh Seng Choo Gallery, National Museum of Singapore’s sixth permanent gallery, has recently been rotated and is now open to the public!

This exhibition, “Seen & Heard in Singapore: Island Ecologies Today and in the Time of William Farquhar” featuring a selection of paintings commissioned by Singapore’s first Resident and Commandant, is guest curated by Assistant Prof Lucy Davis from School of Art, Design and Media, NTU. The exhibition is organised into six interesting themes which the public may relate to as this selection of beautiful watercolour drawings, each carefully chosen, aims to feature Singapore’s biodiversity today and at the same time highlight those that we have lost since Farquhar’s time. Special effort was also put in to include audio and visual aspects such as bird song recordings, a taxidermised common palm civet (on loan from the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research) and Together Again (Wood:Cut) – an animation video by guest curator Lucy. These definitely add an extra touch to the exhibition!


Themes of the exhibition awaiting your exploration:

  • Birdsong in the Time of Farquhar – featuring birds present in William Farquhar’s time and today.
  • No Animal is an Island – featuring the common palm civet and its relationship with several plant and animal species.
  • Secrets of the Forest – featuring our charismatic yet little know local forest flora and fauna.
  • Muddy Beginnings – featuring animals and plants denizens in our mangroves.
  • The City of Palms – featuring a variety of palms in Singapore.
  • Together Again (Wood:Cut) – An animation film by Lucy, featuring elements from the collection

We are also happy to mention that Lucy has kindly invited us to share about the biology and ecology of the common palm civet based on the research we have conducted on this last wild urban native carnivore in the past two years. A few of our civet photographs and those kindly contributed by Chan Kwok Wai were also selected to be featured. This documentation will accompany the taxidermised civet on display in the exhibition. Thank you Lucy for this excellent opportunity to raise awareness of the civet and to reach out to the public.

Photo by curator Daniel Tham (National Museum of Singapore facebook page)

Interested to find out more? Do drop by to learn more about Singapore’s amazing biodiversity, past and present, and at the same time, appreciate that we still have wildlife, even in our backyard!

Seen & Heard in Singapore: Island Ecologies Today and in the Time of William Farquhar

Date: Opens on 29 October 2012, Monday
Time: Open daily from 10am to 8pm
Admission: Free
Venue: The Goh Seng Choo Gallery, National Museum of Singapore, 93 Stamford Road, Singapore 178897 (nearest MRT station – Dhoby Ghaut/ Bras Basah; map)
Website/ Contact: / +65 6332 3659 / +65 6332 5642

Congratulations to Lucy and her team on putting this exhibition together so successfully! We will definitely make a trip down to view the exhibition!

ACRES: Rescuing toddycats in need

In July 2012, we were kindly alerted of a number of civet cases handled by ACRES. The different cases encountered include trapped civets, orphan baby civets, injured and sometimes dead civets.

In Singapore, the presence of these mammals has not always been celebrated despite them being our last wild native urban carnivores. Instead, traps are sometimes laid out by residents to capture the civets which are regarded as a nuisance. This is mainly due to the following reasons or a combination of them – civets feeding on their fruits, living in their roof spaces, making noise at night and/or defecating and urinating at their houses. Although these residents do not want to have civets around their houses, they do not want to harm them so they contact ACRES when the civets are caught.

Civet in a trap. Sometimes civets injure themselves by banging their noses against the cages in an attempt to escape. Photo by ACRES

For people living in close proximity to urban civets, sometimes you might get an unexpected house guest! ACRES was called in one day as a civet has ventured inside someone’s house. By the time they arrived, the civet has entered a pipe and only the tail was visible. Luckily for the civet, ACRES managed to rescue it and let it go!

Civet ventured into someone’s house. Photo by ACRES

Civet stuck in the pipe! Photo by ACRES

Another case where a civet was stuck in the toilet and rescued by ACRES! Wonder what it was doing in the toilet?

Civet rescued from the toilet! Photo by ACRES

Unfortunately, there are times when the animal is already seriously injured or dead when ACRES is notified. Road traffic is a threat to civets and many other animals such as the pangolin. This civet named Grape by ACRES was found dead at the entrance to PIE towards town on Upper Bukit Timah Road and its body was stiff when ACRES arrived. Its right eye and skull were damaged probably due to the impact by the oncoming car.

Grape the civet was found dead along Upper Bukit Timah Road.

There were also a few cases that involved rescuing baby civets that were lost. The baby will normally be left out at where it was found the same night and monitored to see if the mummy civet comes back for the baby. Baby civets are vulnerable as they do not have the ability to take care of themselves. It is thus important to feed, hydrate and keep the baby warm while having minimal human contact.

Baby civet rescued and brought to Night Safari for future rehabilitation. Photo by ACRES

This baby was left out at where it was found but there was no sign of the adult civet. By the third day, ACRES was called in to help and the baby was sent to Night Safari where it will be rehabilitated when it is older.

Thank you ACRES for your tireless effort on rescuing these wild animals in need and for involving us in your rescue efforts! One cannot help but wonder what the fate of these civets may be if help did not arrive in time. Special thanks to Anbu who keeps us updated on these civet cases! Hopefully, these civet stories will help to increase public awareness and change people’s attitude towards these beautiful animals!