RWS hiring more dolphin keepers

Huang Lijie Straits Times 27 Sep 11;

RESORTS World Sentosa (RWS) plans to double the number of keepers to 36 to provide care for its dolphins at its upcoming Marine Life Park.

In a press briefing yesterday on the integrated resort's recruitment drive, it said it had already hired 18 dolphin keepers since last year.

Its 25 dolphins are now housed at the Ocean Adventure park in Subic Bay in the Philippines.

Animal activists who object to the captivity of wild dolphins have been petitioning RWS for the release of the bottlenose dolphins back to their natural habitat off the Solomon Islands, near Papua New Guinea.

Two RWS dolphins died of a water-borne bacterial infection in Langkawi last October.

RWS declined yesterday to comment further on the controversial exhibit, but it had previously said it would be 'gravely irresponsible' to release the dolphins into the wild after three years under human care.

It said the number of dolphin keepers will double when the Marine Life Park opens in the second half of next year. This will allow the keepers to fulfil their added responsibilities in a full-fledged park without compromising on the quality of care for the dolphins. Among its current keepers are marine mammal specialists who have worked at Sentosa's Underwater World and the Singapore Zoo.

The recruitment of more keepers is part of a push to hire about 500 employees for the 8ha Marine Life Park, which includes an oceanarium housing more than 100,000 fishes and a theme park with water rides.

RWS' senior vice-president of human resource and training, Mrs Seah-Khoo Ee Boon, said it is 'optimistic' about meeting its labour needs and its priority would be to hire Singaporeans.

RWS seeks to fill 1,000 vacancies
Ong Dai Lin Today Online 27 Sep 11;

SINGAPORE - While Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) used to draw crowds of 6,000 to 8,000 to its recruitment fairs in 2009 during the economic downturn, a turnout of 500 to 600 now would be enough to make the integrated resort "very happy".

The tight job market has made it a challenge for RWS to hire, as it looks to fill about 1,000 vacancies for its new facilities, which will include a maritime museum and aquarium and two hotels, said senior vice-president of HR and training Ms Seah-Khoo Ee Boon.

More than 500 of the vacancies are in RWS' Marine Life Park, which is scheduled to open in the second half of next year. Some of the vacant positions include aquarists, marine mammal specialists and divers - specialised jobs which are challenging to fill. But the IR, which has held job fairs in HDB heartlands in recent months, will remain focused on hiring Singaporeans, stressed Ms Seah-Khoo at a press briefing yesterday.

While RWS will have to hire foreigners with expertise in running similar marine parks who can "transfer their knowledge to the local team", it is willing to hire Singaporeans who may not have the necessary qualifications and train them, if they have the potential.

For instance, for the 200 lifeguards it will need for the Marine Life Park, it has hired job seekers without lifeguard certification and will send them for training.

To address the labour squeeze, RWS, which employs 13,000 staff, has teamed up with the National Trades Union Congress' Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) to reach out to more job seekers. It has also looked at improving productivity to reduce the reliance on labour. For instance, it bought machines that can clean and polish cutlery for its restaurants, said Ms Seah-Khoo.

She is optimistic about RWS' ability to hire. "We will focus locally … we are very confident that by word of mouth, when we have happy team members, when they feel very happy working here, they will talk to their friends about it and over time, we are very confident that we can create a brand name for ourselves as a good employer."

A passion for marine mammals
Ong Dai Lin Today Online 27 Sep 11;

He began his career as a junior keeper at the Singapore Zoo, and is now keeping his passion for marine mammals alive, as one of the 18 marine mammal specialists who care for the dolphins which will be part of RWS' Marine Life Park.

Speaking to the media via telephone from Subic Bay, Philippines, where the dolphins are being housed, Mr Kenny Ng, who cares for four of the 25 dolphins, said: "It was a good chance for me to enhance my skills with dolphins."

Each morning, the marine mammal specialists will check on the dolphins and prepare food for them, before joining them in the water for interaction and training.

Another specialist, Mr Daniel Ng, 38, said he sees the dolphins as his children: "They are quite playful, loving and mischievous."

RWS, which has maintained it is following international rules on the treatment of marine animals despite protests from animal welfare groups, hopes to eventually have 36 marine mammal specialists. ONG DAI LIN