Rescued dugong at Underwater World celebrates 12th birthday

Imelda Saad, Channel NewsAsia 13 Jan 09;

SINGAPORE: Twelve years after Gracie the sea cow was rescued off the shores of Singapore, she is now thriving at Underwater World Sentosa (UWS) and ushering in the new Chinese Zodiac Year of the Ox.

For the first time, visitors will be able to interact with Gracie in a meet-and-greet session to celebrate her birthday and the Lunar New Year.ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG

The series of month-long activities include cake parties and dive sessions with Gracie.

Gracie was found in 1998 beside her drowned mother and was relocated to Underwater World Sentosa with the approval of Singapore authorities.

The sea cow, also known as the dugong, is a highly-endangered species similar in shape and size to the dolphin.

Strictly herbivorous, dugongs forage along coastal waters of the tropical Indo-Pacific region and feed by grazing on the beds of sea grass.

Dr Jeffrey Mahon, curatorial director, UWS, said: "Dugongs are a highly endangered species and instances of successful rehabilitation of orphaned dugongs are pretty rare worldwide.

"We are one of a handful of aquariums in the world to showcase a dugong and we worked really hard over the years to make sure Gracie is healthy and feels at home here. We want to share that joy with everyone on her birthday." - CNA/vm

Growing older is a piece of cake
Straits Times 14 Jan 09;

How do sea cows celebrate their birthdays? Why, with cake, of course, albeit with sea grass. The Underwater World Singapore (USW) yesterday marked Gracie's 12th year there with a cake for the dugong. Gracie, orphaned at a young age and rescued by UWS, is one of the world's few successful cases of the endangered species thriving under human care.

From today until Feb 9, UWS visitors can witness cake parties and dive with Gracie at discounted prices.

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