MEET “KAI KAI” (凯凯) AND “JIA JIA” (嘉嘉) – SINGAPORE’S GIANT PANDAS

WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE ANNOUNCES NAMES CHOSEN FROM NATIONWIDE SEARCH

Singapore, 16 March 2011 – After a six-month-long nationwide contest, the names of Singapore’s two most highly anticipated soon-to-be ‘permanent residents’ have been selected from nearly 1,000 entries submitted by the public last year. A distinguished judging panel has picked “Kai Kai” (凯凯) and “Jia Jia” (嘉嘉) as the new names for the two Giant Panda cubs as they bear special significance of the close relationship between Singapore and China. The names “Kai Kai” (凯凯) and “Jia Jia” (嘉嘉) won by a clear majority of the judges’ votes.

The seven-person judging panel consisted of representatives from different agencies and organisations, namely Mr Chen Jiang, Cultural Counsellor, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Singapore; Professor Tommy Koh, Ambassador-at-Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ms Aw Kah Peng, Chief Executive, Singapore Tourism Board; Professor Wang Gungwu, Chairman, East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore; Mr Liew Mun Leong, President and CEO, CapitaLand Group; Ms Jennie Chua, Chief Corporate Officer, CapitaLand Limited; and Ms Claire Chiang, Chairman, Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

“Kai Kai”, the name for the male giant panda, was chosen as it means ‘victorious’ in Chinese (as in 凯旋, 凯歌) and is a testament to the 20 triumphant years of Sino-Singapore relations. For the female giant panda, ‘Jia Jia’ which means beautiful and fine, is a reflection of the excellent ties between Singapore and China. On another level, the Chinese character ‘Jia’ (嘉) was used in the old Chinese reference for Singapore (星嘉坡) and the phonetic pronunciation of ‘Jia’ is equivalent to the Mandarin pronunciation of the Chinese character ‘加’, which is not only an integral part of Singapore’s current Chinese name (新加坡), but also means ‘to add’ – representing the wish to expand the giant panda family in Singapore through a successful breeding programme at WRS.

“We can refer to our giant pandas by name, and that is an exciting development for us, especially since these names were submitted by Singaporeans. These are meaningful and beautiful names, chosen to reflect the symbolic ties we have with China, and the future these pandas will have in Singapore. People here have shown tremendous support for our giant panda conservation programme and we hope the community will continue to demonstrate their commitment to wildlife conservation,” said Ms Claire Chiang, Chairman, WRS.

Added Mr Chen Jiang, Cultural Counsellor, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Singapore: “The bond between Singapore and China is one that is built on mutual trust and respect, and the two giant pandas are an expression of that close friendship. They also mark the commitment to conserve and safeguard the existence of these endangered animals.”

Mr Lim Chin Beng, Chairman of CapitaLand Hope Foundation, the philanthropic arm of CapitaLand, said: “These symbolic names reflect the strong bilateral relationship between Singapore and China over the last 20 years, and will further strengthen the close friendship and economic ties between the two countries going forward. The Giant Panda collaborative programme will raise cultural exchange and understanding between Singapore and China, and also promote wildlife conservation education among the young. It is against this backdrop that CapitaLand, as a responsible corporate citizen in Singapore and China, is proud to be the Presenting Sponsor and Conservation Donor of the programme.”

The duo – a three-year-old male and his two-year-old female companion – will arrive in Singapore next year, as part of a joint collaboration between WRS and China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA) to raise awareness for the conservation of these gentle creatures, and the development of a breeding programme for these critically endangered animals. The pandas also represent the close diplomatic relations between Singapore and China. Singapore is the seventh country to receive giant pandas from China since 1994.

The person whose entry was picked by the judges is a 38 year old Singaporean, Ms Angeline Fong, who will receive a complimentary three-night stay at any Ascott serviced residence worldwide, an exclusive preview of the giant panda exhibit when it opens in 2012, and other attractive prizes.

The two furry black and white envoys are due to arrive in early 2012 and will be housed at WRS’ upcoming attraction, the River Safari, Asia’s first river-themed park. Visitors at the River Safari will be able to observe the giant pandas up close in an environment similar to that of their natural habitat, naturally landscaped with a lush bamboo forest, shallow streams, trees and boulders for the animals to explore and play.

Giant Pandas are among the rarest bear species in the world with less than 1,600 left in the wild. They are classified as endangered under the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species. The population of giant pandas in the wild continues to dwindle due to the loss and destruction of their natural habitat.

For more information, please visit www.riversafari.com.sg

Jia Jia - the female Giant Panda
Kai Kai - the male Giant Panda

RED-FRONTED MACAWS AND HORNBILL CHICKS ADD TO THE JOY THIS BREEDING SEASON AT JURONG BIRD PARK

Singapore, 12 July 2010 – It’s a full house, as far as the breeding season goes, at the Jurong Bird Park, with successful hatchings by four different species of birds, one of which is highly endangered. The park, which is the world’s largest bird park and one of four wildlife attractions by Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), the others being Night Safari, Singapore Zoo and the upcoming River Safari, recently hatched four red-fronted macaws, a great pied hornbill, an oriental pied hornbill and a black hornbill. The hatchings are part of an on-going award-winning breeding programme at the park, which is dedicated to the conservation of avian species.

“We are thrilled to welcome a nest-full of chicks into the park. The last hatching for the red-fronted macaw was 10 years ago. This time round, we had the rare occasion of having four eggs in one clutch, and we have successfully hatched all four eggs, which is quite an achievement,” said Mr Raja Segran, General Curator, Jurong Bird Park. “To add to the joy, we also welcomed three hornbill chicks, which greatly aid our ex-situ conservation efforts for these enigmatic species. Our award-winning breeding programme is a clear demonstration of our role and capabilities in the preservation of avian biodiversity.”

The red-fonted macaw is a highly endangered parrot species native to the mountainous area of south-central Bolivia. They are captured for the illegal pet trade and coupled with rapid habitat destruction, there are only a few hundred of them left in the wild.

Breeding season for the hornbills takes place annually from November to May the following year. Visitors to the Bird Park during this time may be able to catch a glimpse of the sealed-in nestbox, which typically signifies that the female hornbill and her eggs are in there. A narrow slit is left for the male hornbill to feed the female and eventually the chicks, until the female and chicks break out of the sealed-in nestbox. The great pied hornbill is the heaviest Asian hornbill and is notoriously difficult to breed in captivity, due to their extreme selectivity for mates, as well as the long and strong pair bonds they form. It is listed as a threatened species because of hunting and habitat loss. The oriental pied hornbill was last sighted in Singapore more than 150 years ago, but it was only recently that they were once again sighted in 1994. They are the only truly wild hornbills found here. The black hornbill is a common species of hornbill found in various parts of Asia, such as Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

A recipient of many firsts, the Bird Park was the first globally to successfully breed the black hornbill in captivity in 1995. The Bird Park was also the first in the world to breed the Twelve-wired Bird of Paradise in captivity and received the Breeders’ Award from the American Pheasant and Waterfowl Society in 2001.  They were also a recipient of the Conservation & Research Award for Oriental Pied Hornbill Conservation Project by IV International Symposium on Breeding Birds in Captivity in 2006.

Courtesy of Bjorn Olesen - Our newly hatched red-fronted macaw hatchlings
An oriental pied hornbill at Jurong Bird Park
A row of black hornbills at Jurong Bird Park