The Massachusetts senator's alarm-sounding on consumer debt neglects to measure it against the growth in the economy and the ability to pay.Economyread more
Equifax will give consumers a range of options for monitoring their credit or making claims of fraud or data misuse, part of a $425 million restitution fund.Technologyread more
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her family have seen their investments skyrocket since President Donald Trump started enacting pro-business policies. Meanwhile, DeVos...Politicsread more
The construction industry is heavily dependent on Hispanic and Latino workers, a workforce that diminished during the last housing crisis and has not come close to full...Real Estateread more
A group of gold miners stocks, "BAANG," are better plays than mega-cap FAANG names, according to John Roque, technical analyst at Wolfe Research.Marketsread more
T-Mobile is choosing to move ahead with a merger with Sprint even though it will prop up Dish Network as a new, possibly disruptive fourth U.S. wireless competitor.Technologyread more
Danger is lurking in the stock market: An abrupt sell-off could be around the corner if the Federal Reserve doesn't deliver the rate cut the market expects next week, the firm...Marketsread more
Shares of Beyond Meat jumped nearly 10% Monday, nearing its all-time high, on investor optimism ahead of its earnings.Food & Beverageread more
Carl Icahn thinks Occidental Petroleum's CEO got played by the Oracle of Omaha himself in the company's effort to buy Anadarko Petroleum.Investingread more
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first generic copies of a popular, pricey pill for nerve pain. The agency on Monday said it approved nine generic...Biotech and Pharmaceuticalsread more
Starbucks is licensing its mobile and loyalty program technology in a deal that will give global franchisees the chance to offer the Starbucks mobile app to customers.Restaurantsread more
Two years after leaving the food and beverage industry where he had carved his career for the past two decades, Singaporean Lee Meng Tat is now living a wild life – quite literally.
Heading the Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) which owns the Singapore Zoo, Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari and the newly-opened River Safari, the 50-year-old has nearly 13,000 animals under his charge, though he admits that he knew little about the job initially.
"I know nothing about running a zoo but after 12 years with Fraser & Neave I was looking to move on to something new, " the zoo's chief executive officer told CNBC's "Managing Asia. "
"[After I was approached] I took the weekend to visit the zoo. Walking around, I felt a sense of pride among the staff in their work," he said.
What he lacks in experience, the mechanical engineering graduate makes up by taking daily walks around the various parks and keeping his ear to the ground. "Every week, I meet staff for lunch just to know them and what they think of the company. I'm still doing it after two years [but] now it's about once a month."
Challenges for River Safari
Early this year, Lee added a fourth park to the WRS umbrella, its first in almost 20 years. Costing approximately $128 million, River Safari – a 12-hectare attraction with panda enclosures and freshwater animals – is a giant leap into the unknown for both Lee and the organization.
"People told me not to worry but there is a lot more competition now compared to 20 years ago. Also, adding a fourth park isn't just a simple extension; the level of complexity multiplies."
The WRS took on a bank loan for the first time. Apart from finances, the organization also had to get past obstacles in talent recruitment.
"Our expertise lies in land animals and the birds. We do have experience with aquatic animals but not that comprehensive. For River Safari, we had to hire people with a different skill set. We were also launching a theme park-style boat ride which is new to us. We did not have the staff to manage that," Lee recounted.
Since opening in February, the park has chalked up nearly one million visitors. Lee estimates that the attraction will take 3 to 5 years to achieve break even.
Managing costs and animal welfare
With donations comprising less than 5 percent of revenue, maintaining a clean balance sheet is paramount for the self-financed WRS which posted $94 million in revenue last year. But for Lee, the welfare of the animals remains top priority too.
"Anything to do with animals isn't commercial operation. We are a zoo after all so conservation, research and education are important to us [but] we are very mindful of profitability as we don't receive any subsidies [so] we have to make sure we earn enough to maintain our premises," he told CNBC.
Over 850 employees are needed to keep the four wildlife parks, which received nearly 4.7 million visitors in 2013, going. Thus, manpower costs have proven to be a challenge amid rising wages and increasing restrictions for foreign workers in Singapore. To counter that, WRS has turned to technology and outsourcing.
"We encourage self-service for example buying tickets online so as to reduce the number of ticket sellers. Cleaning and security services are outsourced to cut costs. But as far as animals are concerned, we maintain the number of staff because it's not possible to automate when it comes to that," Lee said.
— Reported by Christine Tan; Written by See Kit Tang