CHENGDU, China: Giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia are enroute to Singapore from China.
The pair are on a 10—year loan from the Chinese government, marking more than two decades of strong ties between the two countries.
The plane carrying the two pandas took off for Singapore at 4am. It is expected to land at approximately 8.20am.
At nearly 3am on Thursday, the pair were at the Chengdu Airport Tarmac waiting to board their flight.
Inside the crates where they are housed individually for the journey, five—year old Kai Kai was fast asleep.
His four—year—old companion Jia Jia was, however, wide awake and chewing on her comfort food — bamboo.
After one month in quarantine, the furry pair are in good shape for their journey. On Wednesday, a farewell ceremony was held for them at the Chengdu Bifengxia Panda base.
They were moved into crates and then sent to the Chengdu airport in a refrigerated truck.
Since it was their first time away from home, extra care was taken to minimize stress on the creatures.
The truck drove at a maximum speed of 60 kilometres per hour, slowing down to just 20km per hour around bends.
Ninety kilogrammes of bamboo have also been prepared for the journey. A panda eats an average of 20—kg of bamboo a day.
Bamboos will also be placed in their crates, in case the pandas want supper during the flight.
Wildlife Reserves Singapore has also brought along bamboo imported from Guangzhou, in case the pandas need time to adjust to the taste of bamboo grown in Singapore.
The pandas will be transported in a 747 cargo plane. With the main deck as big as a basketball court, the crates will be placed in the middle, which is the most stable part of the plane to minimize turbulence.
On board, there are five passenger seats mainly for a vet from Wildlife Reserves Singapore and four zoo keepers, two each from Singapore and China, who will be taking turns to take care of the pandas. The vet will be monitoring the pandas’ health during the six—hour flight.
Head vet at Wildlife Reserves Singapore, Serena Jocelyn Oh, said: "In the cargo hold, it will be dark so it makes them more comfortable and then there are food and water provided. We brought along some anaesthetic drugs as well as emergency drugs."
Sponsor of the pandas in Singapore, CapitaLand would not reveal figures but previous examples of panda loans from China cost about one million dollars each year.
Chief operating officer at CapitaLand Limited, Lim Ming Yan, said: "We are happy that we can be part of the activities to promote Singapore—China bilateral cultural exchange."
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