KEEPERS AND VETS IN RIVER SAFARI HOPEFUL FOR BABY PANDA

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Giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia, solitary by nature, came together for second try to have a baby panda

IMAGE 1 (left): Kai Kai and Jia Jia had been displaying courtship behaviour for weeks. Once the hormonal levels in Jia Jia’s urine samples indicated on 13 April that she was ready to mate, the two pandas were brought together in their dens for natural mating. The session was not successful, a situation not uncommon for young and inexperienced pandas. PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

IMAGE 2 (right): To help Jia Jia conceive, a decision was made to carry out artificial insemination. Assisting the vet team at River Safari was a team led by Prof Ng Soon Chye, an obstetrics and gynaecology specialist internationally renowned for his expertise in human reproductive medicine. PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE, 15 April 2016 Giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia have made their second attempt at parenthood over the last two days and if proved successful, River Safari will become home to a baby panda.

The giant pandas had started showing signs that they were entering mating season at the end of March. For weeks, the two pandas displayed classic courtship behaviour: Kai Kai was scent-marking his exhibit and chirping to get the female’s attention, while Jia Jia was sleeping more and when awake would be restlessly pacing about. These displays were encouraging signs to the keepers and vets that their methods of stimulating breeding cycles and interest had been successful.

Pandas’ mating instincts are brought on by hormonal changes in response to seasonal variations, such as temperature changes and increasing day length from winter to spring. River Safari’s keepers and vets have employed a number of measures since November to trigger the breeding cycles of the pandas. These included varying the daylight hours and temperature in the panda exhibit to simulate the transition from winter to spring in the pandas’ homeland in Sichuan, China.

In addition, keepers introduced each panda to the other’s exhibit and den, as well as placed them side by side for short periods of time so that the pair could smell each other’s scent. Their reaction would indicate their receptiveness to the opposite sex.  Urine samples from Jia Jia were also collected to check the hormonal levels which would also indicate when she is ready to mate.

On 13 April, both pandas were brought together in their dens for natural mating. The mixing session was not successful, a situation not uncommon for young and inexperienced pandas. A decision was made to carry out artificial insemination to help Jia Jia conceive. Assisting the vet team at River Safari was a team led by Prof Ng Soon Chye, an obstetrics and gynaecology specialist internationally renowned for his expertise in the reproductive medicine.

Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Chief Life Sciences Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said, “River Safari is part of a global breeding and research programme for the endangered giant panda. Our team of keepers and vets are committed to provide the best animal husbandry and healthcare possible to achieve this task; and our standard of care was recently affirmed by visiting panda fertility experts from China’s Ya-An Bifengxia Panda Base. The past few days have involved very intensive observation and monitoring of the pairs which culminated in the artificial insemination of Jia Jia. Our female panda is timid by nature and our focus now is on her after care.”

From now till about September, vets and keepers will have to wait to conclude if Jia Jia is pregnant through ultrasound scans. Giant pandas have delayed implantation during pregnancy and as such, vets cannot confirm pregnancy until the later part of the panda’s gestation period.

Image 3 - Lovelorn pandas_WRS

IMAGE 3 (left): Right before Kai Kai and Jia Jia were brought together to mate, they approached each other. Separated by the mesh between their dens, the lovelorn bears signaled their interest by sniffing and chirping at each other.

PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

 

Image 4 - Kai Kai and Jia Jia play fighting_WRS IMAGE 4 (left): After being brought together in their dens, Kai Kai and Jia Jia began play fighting, a natural behaviour that pandas display from young. Usually seen lazing about, the energetic rough housing was a stark contrast to their typical image. 

PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE TO RECEIVE TWO GIANT PANDAS FROM CHINA

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– WRS’ RIVER SAFARI WILL BE NEW HOME FOR GIANT PANDAS
– WRS TO SIGN MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING WITH CHINA WILDLIFE CONSERVATION ASSOCIATION (“CWCA”) TO COLLABORATE ON GIANT PANDA CONSERVATION AND RESEARCH
– CAPITALAND MAKES CONSERVATION DONATION TO SUPPORT THE COLLABORATIVE EFFORT

Singapore, November 11, 2009Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), parent company of Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari and Singapore Zoo will receive a pair of male and female Giant Pandas from China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA) as part of a joint collaboration to promote giant panda conservation, raise public awareness of conservation and implement a giant panda breeding research programme. The pandas are symbolic of the close relationship between Singapore and China as the Republic celebrates the 20th Anniversary of friendly Sino-Singapore relations. This was announced by President Hu Jintao following a meeting with President S R Nathan earlier this evening.

The two pandas, which are scheduled to arrive in Singapore in the second half of 2011, will have a new home at the River Safari, the fourth and latest nature park by WRS. Preliminary work for River Safari has begun and construction is due to be completed by mid-2011. Visitors will be able to see the pandas when River Safari opens its doors in early 2012.

Both WRS and CWCA will ink their commitment to the conservation collaboration through an Agreement with the objective of knowledge exchange on reproductive science and education on wildlife in China.

The partnership will be sealed at a signing ceremony on November 12 in the presence of President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, signaling high-level support from both governments.

“We are pleased that the pandas mark the strong and continuing friendship between the two countries. The strong support from both our governments will give us great impetus to work with our Chinese counterpart in global nature and wildlife conservation, and to learn, adopt and implement best practices. This collaboration will also boost greater interest in the areas of conservation, especially for the giant pandas,” said Ms Claire Chiang, WRS’ Chairman.

To support this conservation effort, CapitaLand Limited, one of Asia’s largest real estate companies with a strong presence in China for 15 years, has pledged a conservation donation to support the 10-year collaborative programme.

Mr Liew Mun Leong, President and CEO of CapitaLand Group, said: “Over the last 15 years, CapitaLand has actively participated in China’s urbanisation. Today, we have an extensive presence with a portfolio worth over S$20 billion (on a when-completed basis) comprising about 100 projects spanning 40 cities across China. This conservation donation is yet another testament of CapitaLand’s long-term commitment to China. This collaborative effort will raise cultural exchange and understanding between the two countries and further strengthen the strong relationship between Singapore and China.”

Husbandry and Veterinary Care
“With WRS’ Wildlife Healthcare and Research Centre established since 2006, we have the necessary infrastructure in place – latest technology in veterinary equipment and animal management team with extensive field experience – to care for the giant pandas. Through close collaboration with the CWCA, we will be even better positioned to achieve our objectives of promoting giant panda conservation and raise public awareness of conservation. Along with all Singaporeans, we eagerly await the arrival of the pandas,” said Ms Fanny Lai, WRS’ Group CEO.

WRS has identified a team of zookeepers and veterinarians to look after the husbandry needs and veterinary care of the pandas. During the next two years, zookeepers will receive training on the husbandry, nutrition and housing of pandas. A researcher on the team will monitor as well as study the husbandry, nutrition, behaviour and reproduction of the pandas.

In addition, a team of panda experts from China will come to Singapore to provide training as well as expert guidance on creating the ideal environment for the pandas.

Caring for pandas is not new to WRS. In 1990 one of WRS’ parks, Singapore Zoo, welcomed and cared for two giant pandas “An-An” and “Xin-Xing” for 100 days.

Exhibit, Housing and Conservation Education
In line with the needs of the pandas, their new home at the River Safari will be designed and constructed to meet the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) standards.

As a strong proponent of conservation education, WRS will be looking at enriching visitors’ experience with panda conservation interpretives, educational programmes and behind-the-scenes experience on panda care.

River Safari
River Safari will be located along Mandai Lake Road, adjacent to Night Safari and Singapore Zoo. The new attraction will be Asia’s first river-themed animal park comprising of boat rides, display of freshwater habitats and other highlights offering close-up multi-sensory experience for the young and old, with the aim to create greater awareness of freshwater habitat conservation. The development will be built with environmental sensitivity and minimal impact on the Mandai Nature Reserve area.