Singapore, 6 September 2012 – Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) today announced that the two giant pandas from China have arrived safely. The giant pandas, Kai Kai (凯凯) and Jia Jia (嘉嘉), touched down at Changi Airport on board a Singapore Airlines Cargo Boeing 747 freighter at 8.20am after a five-hour flight.
“We are delighted that Kai Kai and Jia Jia have reached Singapore safe and sound. It is an honour to be entrusted with two of China’s national treasures and their arrival symbolises the strong ties and deep friendship between Singapore and China. It is an exciting time for tourism in Singapore, with the opening of new attractions like the River Safari. Kai Kai and Jia Jia will certainly generate great interest and excitement for visitors and Singaporeans alike. We will continue to strengthen our tourism value proposition with new and diversified tourism offerings to grow the tourism sector,” says Mr Teo Ser Luck, Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry.
“With this captivating species as one of the main attractions at River Safari, we are anticipating at least 850,000 visitors annually. Through this collaborative programme with China Wildlife Conservation Association, WRS now has another opportunity to boost greater interest in the area of wildlife conservation by bringing visitors up close to the two giant pandas and hopefully inspiring them to care for threatened wildlife ecosystems around the world”, said Ms Claire Chiang, Chairman of WRS.
CapitaLand Limited, one of Asia’s largest real estate companies with a strong presence in China for over 15 years, has pledged a conservation donation to support the 10-year collaborative programme.
Mr Liew Mun Leong, President and CEO of CapitaLand Group, and Director of CapitaLand Hope Foundation, said: “CapitaLand’s role as the Presenting Sponsor and Conservation Donor of the Giant Panda Collaborative Programme resonates with the Group’s core values of ‘People’ and ‘Community’. The programme provides an excellent platform to enhance cultural exchange and understanding between Singapore and China, and promote wildlife conservation education, CapitaLand is committed to sustainability in all our development projects in the geographies we operate and we are pleased to be part of this meaningful effort to conserve and share the beauty of wildlife with our future generations.”
Singapore Airlines, Official Airline Sponsor, has provided transportation for the pandas as well as air tickets for training and exchange programmes involving the team of panda caretakers’ from both Singapore and China.
“Singapore Airlines is pleased to have transported Kai Kai and Jia Jia comfortably to Singapore. We warmly welcome them to their new home at the River Safari, and are privileged to be playing our part in this significant conservation initiative,” said Mr Goh Choon Phong, CEO, Singapore Airlines.
Upon landing, the giant pandas were received by Mr Teo Ser Luck, Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry and representatives* from the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Singapore; State Forestry Administration of the People’s Republic of China; CapitaLand Limited; CapitaLand Hope Foundation; Singapore Airlines; Temasek Holdings; Singapore Tourism Board; and Wildlife Reserves Singapore, who gathered at the cargo area to welcome the bears. Subsequently, the giant pandas were whisked away in a temperature-controlled truck to their quarantine enclosure in River Safari while the guests continued with the welcome ceremony at the Jet Quay CIP facility at Changi Airport.
During the ceremony, WRS Chairman Ms Claire Chiang presented VIP (Very Important Panda) passes to representatives from the State Forestry Administration of the People’s Republic of China, symbolic of the pandas’ new status as residents of River Safari.
Over at the entrance of River Safari, a crowd of close to 1000 guests and WRS staff were waiting expectantly at the driveway. They cheered enthusiastically as the truck containing the precious pandas approached, led by an escort jeep, six lion dancers and two panda mascots in the likeness of Kai Kai and Jia Jia.
Within 3 hours of landing in Singapore, Kai Kai and Jia Jia were smoothly transferred into their quarantine dens with careful coordination by the Chinese giant panda specialists and WRS zoology and veterinary teams. The team shared that the pair were calm and relaxed throughout the operation.
The giant pandas will be quarantined for a month before being released into their exhibit to explore and familiarise themselves with their new surroundings. Visitors can look forward to visiting Kai Kai and Jia Jia at the giant panda exhibit this December.
Kai Kai and Jia Jia will be in Singapore for 10 years as part of a joint collaboration between China Wildlife Conservation Association and WRS to raise public awareness on wildlife conservation and develop a breeding programme for these endangered animals. There are fewer than 1,600 giant pandas left in the wild. The pair of giant pandas also emphasises the close diplomatic relations between Singapore and China.
Singapore is the ninth country to receive giant pandas from China since 1994.