28 November 2012 17:40
Kai Kai, Jia Jia make public debut at Giant Panda Forest

Panda-lovers, it’s official – the wait is over!

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Text & Photos: Ang Kai Fong
Video: Teng Siew Eng

Panda-lovers, it’s official – the wait is finally over.

After a month-long quarantine , giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia are now ready to make their public debut. And it seems they’re settling in just fine in their brand new million dollar home – the Giant Panda Forest, Southeast Asia’s largest panda exhibit, at the upcoming River Safari.

Speaking at the grand opening ceremony on Wednesday morning, chairman of Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) Claire Chiang said, “The pandas have responded very well (when gradually introduced to the Giant Panda Forest). Kai Kai went right out there to claim his space. While Jia Jia was initially slightly more apprehensive, she is now the more active bear, often spotted climbing trees.”

“The pandas have fully adapted to their new home,” she added.

Guests at the opening included Mr S Iswaran, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade and Industry, China's ambassador to Singapore, Mr Wei Wei as well as former president of Singapore, Mr S R Nathan.

Fans expecting to see baby pandas from the furry duo will have to wait as “Jia Jia's still young,” a zookeeper told xinmsn.

“Jia Jia’s only four and pandas get sexually matured around five years old so we’ll just have to wait a while more,” she said, before adding that female pandas ovulate only once a year.

How would the keepers know when’s the right time then?

“We will collect their urine samples on a daily basis and measure the amount of hormones in it,” she explained. “So if Jia Jia shows a spike in hormones, which means she’s ‘in heat’ and that she’s receptive, we will let them get together.”

For now, Kai Kai and Jia Jia will remain separated although close to each other. “Naturally, in the wild, pandas don’t really get together. They’re not too sociable animals,” the zoo staff added.

(Continued on next page): See the giant pandas in action!

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