Vets and keepers confirm giant panda Jia Jia’s pseudopregnancy, a state common worldwide for pandas under human care
SINGAPORE, 23 September 2015 – Despite promising signs and after months of monitoring, River Safari’s female panda, Jia Jia, will not be delivering a cub this year. Based on scientific data gathered from her behaviours and hormone levels, the birthing window has now passed and panda caretakers concluded that the seven-year-old bear is not pregnant.
Jia Jia underwent artificial insemination on 18 April after an unsuccessful mating attempt with her male counterpart, Kai Kai. Since July, she was seen eating less bamboo, sleeping more and her hormone levels were increasing – all signs consistent with pregnancy or pseudopregnancy. Giant pandas commonly display pseudopregnancies and experts worldwide are often not able to determine pandas’ pregnancy status until a late stage.
Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Chief Life Sciences Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said: “Our team of vets and keepers were cautiously optimistic in welcoming a baby panda and while we cannot expect one this year, we are pleased and encouraged by the development of Kai Kai and Jia Jia. The past months have provided an invaluable learning experience for us in understanding the complex reproduction and biology of one of the world’s most charismatic species, and we hope for better results next year.”
Panda caretakers will review information and data collected in the last few months before the next breeding season for the bears begin around April. To get the pandas accustomed to physical contact with each other, keepers aim to bring the pandas together before the start of the mating season.
In addition, caretakers will continue to vary daylight hours and temperature in the Giant Panda Forest – a technique which successfully triggered the breeding cycles of the pandas in April this year. 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. To simulate this seasonal transition, the pandas will return to their dens earlier between October to March, and later between April to September.
Giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia celebrate birthdays and third anniversary in Singapore; Changes in Jia Jia’s hormones and behaviours keep caretakers on toes over possible pregnancy
SINGAPORE, 3 September 2015 – As she quietly celebrated her 7th birthday this morning, River Safari’s female panda Jia Jia continues to keep a little secret which has been keeping vets and keepers on their toes over changes in her behaviours.
In the past two months, panda caretakers have been playing a guessing game on whether the bear is pregnant or going through pseudopregnancy, a common state in which pandas exhibit hormonal and behavioural changes that indicate they are pregnant when they are not.
After the panda underwent artificial insemination on 18 April, caretakers, including a panda specialist from China, have been closely monitoring her behaviours and hormone levels, watching for signs of pregnancy. Since July, Jia Jia has been eating less bamboo, sleeping more, spending more time in her den and her hormone levels are increasing – all signs consistent with pregnancy or pseudopregnancy. Giant pandas commonly display pseudopregnancies and experts worldwide are often not able to determine pandas’ pregnancy status until a late stage.
Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Chief Life Sciences Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said: “Under the watchful eyes of our vets and keepers, both Kai Kai and Jia Jia continue to develop well in their Singapore home. Both reached sexual maturity for the first time this year and we are now tracking Jia Jia closely. We hope the data and knowledge gathered from the study of Kai Kai and Jia Jia will add to the global understanding of this endangered species, and contribute to the conservation of giant pandas.”
Since 23 July, vets and keepers have been conducting weekly ultrasound scans in an attempt to detect a foetus but the results have been inconclusive. The gestation period for a giant panda is typically five months, and the foetus only starts to develop a few weeks before birth.
Dr Serena Oh, Assistant Director of Veterinary Services, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said: “Her behaviours are in line with a rise in progesterone but it is not easy to confirm her pregnancy because the gestation period varies for each panda. Giant pandas have delayed implantation and it is difficult to see the small foetus during ultrasound scans. We can only definitively conclude she is not pregnant once her hormone levels return to normal and she has not delivered, but for now, it is still a guessing game.”
Classified as “endangered” with only 1,600 left in the wild, giant pandas are notoriously difficult to breed. River Safari’s pandas were brought together to mate in April, after vets and keepers had successfully triggered breeding behaviours through controlled lighting and temperature in Giant Panda Forest. As the mating session appeared unsuccessful, Jia Jia was artificially inseminated.
Vets and keepers will continue monitoring Jia Jia’s hormone levels and conduct ultrasound scans. The public can follow Jia Jia’s development via Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s Twitter account (@tweetWRS) with the hashtag #SGPanda.
Jia Jia’s mate, Kai Kai, was also presented with a cake today where he enjoyed the birthday treat in the company of 30 pre-school kids from PCF Zhenghua. The male panda will turn eight on 14 September.
The pandas’ birthdays will be marked with a Panda Party Week from 5 to 13 September, where both bears will receive daily treats as a form of enrichment. In addition, visitors can look forward to interactive booths to learn more about giant pandas, and get hands-on with arts and crafts. Visitors can also enjoy one-for-one promotions on exclusive panda merchandise, as well as panda-licious treats. To mark the pandas’ coming of age, children born in 2007 and 2008 enter River Safari for free in September. Free admission is extended to Singaporeans, permanent residents and long-term visit pass holders.
Kids enjoy merry-not-scary festivities for free at River Safari from 6pm
SINGAPORE, 1 October 2014 – This October, River Safari invites all little ones to join Singapore’s wildest trick-or-treat event – Safari Boo – for free! Dress the kids in their favourite costumes for an enchanting night with mythical creatures, interactive discovery stations, special animal presentations, and up-close encounters with river monsters at twilight.
Held over five days on Oct 22, 25, 26 & Nov 1 and 2, Safari Boo festivities take place from 6pm to 9pm (last admission at 8pm). The park will be transformed with colourful decoration, trick-or-treat trails, illuminated displays and a parade of fantastical characters such as the mermaid and unicorn. Children aged 12 years and below enjoy free admission from 6pm* and are encouraged to come dressed in fun (not scary) costumes and stand a chance to win in a costume contest. To get into the festive spirit, even Kai Kai & Jia Jia mascots will be decked out in their Safari Boo outfit.
Mr Lee Meng Tat, Chief Executive Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said, “Safari Boo is an all-new event for families with children to have a fun and educational time at River Safari. Through the exciting programme line-up and hands-on activities, we hope visitors will have a memorable adventure in the park and learn a thing or two about wildlife.”
As part of the festivities at Safari Boo, the Giant Panda Courtyard will be home to a myriad of activity stations, including one where little ones can play archaeologist and uncover animal bones to solve mysteries. Those brave for some scaly encounters can feel the unique body covering of animals such as the pangolin and arapaima, and find out why these animals are threatened because of their scales.
Meet a friendly witch and Frankenstein himself, who will introduce various creatures of the night and charm visitors with stories in River Talk: Myths and Legends. This special animal presentation features up-close encounters with snakes, bearded dragons and creepy-crawlies, and is a purr-fect opportunity for kids (and even adults) to get over their phobias and educate others against developing fears of these misunderstood creatures.
Those bone on the wild side will love the after-dark experience at River Safari where they will get to observe the behaviours of river monsters such as the powerful arapaima and colossal giant freshwater stingray. Visitors can also find out more about creatures with blood-thirsty reputation such as the leech and tick, and even get a chance to feel the fangs of the vampire bat!
Safari Boo features daytime festivities where animals will indulge in special pumpkins filled with their favourite treats! Catch the cute antics of giant pandas, red pandas and squirrel monkeys as they chomp, dig and crunch their way through the festive treats as a form of enrichment. Visitors can also embark on a guided trail to learn freaky facts about the river monsters that roam in the park.
Safari Boo event tickets (6pm to 9pm) are priced at $15 for adults. Last admission is at 8pm. Children aged 12 years and below enjoy free admission from 6pm*. Visitors with River Safari admission tickets can take part in Safari Boo activities for free.
– Two exclusive programmes launched in June to take visitors on learning journeys.
Singapore, 14 May 2014 – For the first time, visitors can have a glimpse of the inner workings of River Safari with the launch of two new behind-the-scenes programmes. Titled Fishy Business and Be a Panda Researcher, these programmes are packed with hands-on experiences that present a unique perspective on Asia’s first and only river-themed wildlife park and its animal residents.
Panda fans can learn more about the park’s famous residents, giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia, as well as their wild cousins in Be a Panda Researcher. Through a series of investigative tasks at various activity stations, participants will get down and dirty to ‘dissect’ panda poo and appreciate the hard work that goes into meeting Kai Kai and Jia Jia’s special dietary needs. By examining paw prints and other markings, they will also gain insights into how researchers track pandas in the wild and implement conservation measures to save these endangered bears from extinction.
Those game for some Fishy Business can venture deep into the underbelly of the Amazon Flooded Forest exhibit and discover what the aquarists do to keep the animal residents in the pink of health. Participants will explore the massive life support system of the world’s largest freshwater aquarium, conduct water tests and prepare food and enrichment for river giants such as the manatees and arapaimas. The finale to the programme is a visual spectacle of the silver arowana, also known as the water monkey, leaping out of the water to strike at its prey during special feeding sessions.
Ms May Lok, Director, Education, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said: “Many a times visitors are curious about our work, and our team is also eager to share the passion and joy in the day-to-day care for our 6000 animals. Be a Panda Researcher and Fishy Business are the first behind-the-scenes tours in River Safari we have curated for the public. We hope visitors who participate in these programmes will walk away with a deeper understanding on the park and its animal residents, and a greater appreciation of freshwater ecosystems.”
Be a Panda Researcher and Fishy Business programmes are each available at S$39 for adults and S$29 for children, inclusive of River Safari admission*. Be a Panda Researcher can accommodate a maximum of 60 people while Fishy Business can accommodate a maximum of 30. Both tours are recommended for children 9 years and above. Reservations can be made online at http://education.riversafari.com.sg/whatshap.html. The two programmes are launched in commemoration of 50 years of tourism development and promotions in Singapore.
*Admission does not include Amazon River Quest boat ride.
Asia’s first and only river-themed wildlife park to feature rare and endangered animals from eight iconic river habitats; boat rides to be ready at a later date.
Singapore, 25 March 2013 – From 3 April, visitors can look forward to discovering the exotic wildlife found in eight iconic river habitats with the soft opening of River Safari.
The 12-ha River Safari is the newest addition to Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s portfolio of award-winning parks and will showcase animals from freshwater habitats inspired by eight of the world’s iconic rivers including the Mississippi, Nile, Mekong, Yangtze and Amazon rivers. The park will be home to over 150 plant species and 5,000 animal specimens representing 300 animal species, including one of the world’s largest collections of freshwater animals.
Among the unique aquatic and terrestrial animals featured in the park are endangered river giants such as the Giant Salamander, Giant Freshwater Stingray and Mekong Giant Catfish. River Safari is the only park in Asia to feature the Giant River Otter, the world’s largest otter that can grow up to 1.8 metres.
Ms Claire Chiang, Chairman, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said, “We look forward to welcoming visitors to River Safari and bringing them up-close to the fascinating wildlife that live in river habitats, which are disappearing faster than forest and marine environments. As the first and only river-themed wildlife park in Asia, River Safari aims to highlight the importance of freshwater ecosystems and inspire positive actions for conserving them. In addition, we also seek to play a part in global captive breeding programmes for endangered freshwater species.”
During the soft opening phase, visitors can walk through River Safari’s freshwater galleries and immersive exhibits, including the world’s largest freshwater aquarium at the Amazon Flooded Forest and the Giant Panda Forest. The park’s boat rides will not be available until later this year as they are undergoing technical adjustments.
River Safari opens daily from 9am to 6pm and tickets will be priced at S$35 (Adult), S$23 (Child between 3-12 years), and $17.50 (Senior citizen above 60 years). As the boat rides and some exhibits will not be ready until a later date, daily admission (refer to Appendix attached) during the soft opening phase will be priced at a discounted rate of S$25 (Adult), S$16 (Child between 3-12 years) and $12.50 (Senior citizen above 60 years). Visitors can purchase tickets at Singapore Zoo and River Safari’s ticket booth. River Safari extends free admission to beneficiaries of selected programmes by Voluntary Welfare Organisations (details on http://www.riversafari.com.sg).
From 3 April, visitors planning to see the giant pandas can do so only via River Safari. The current giant panda preview, which visitors pay a top-up fee in addition to Singapore Zoo admission ticket, will end on 31 March. Both pandas are housed at the Yangtze River zone that features the Yangtze alligator and the world’s largest amphibian – the Chinese giant salamander.
River Safari is designed and developed with the utmost concern for the environment, especially the Mandai Nature Reserve area where the park is situated. The park brings together the best in zoological architecture and design, with state-of-the-art exhibit artistry and technology to provide visitors with an immersive experience into the world of rivers and the landscapes they support. River Safari is the first attraction in Singapore to be conferred with the Building and Construction Authority’s Green Mark Platinum Award in the park category.
Singapore, 28 November 2012 – In another milestone for Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), giant pandas, Kai Kai and Jia Jia will make their first public appearance on 29 November, as part of a special preview of River Safari, which is scheduled to open next year.
Following today’s opening ceremony of the Giant Panda Forest officiated by Mr S Iswaran, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister for Home Affairs and Second Minister for Trade and Industry, members of the public will be able to meet the giant pandas in person with a Giant Panda Preview add-on ticket when they visit Singapore Zoo.
Visitors will have the opportunity to get up close to the giant pandas and see many creature comforts around their enclosure, including a man-made waterfall, dipping pools and bamboo gardens that simulate their natural habitat. Once visitors step inside the exhibit, they will be transported into the world of Kai Kai and Jia Jia via the raised boardwalk that takes them through the entire Giant Panda Forest. Visitors will also be immersed in the splendour of the giant panda’s natural habitat with the aid of soundscape, music and artefacts at the viewing gallery.
In addition, over five weekends in December, visitors will learn about the importance of conservation through a special exhibition at Singapore Zoo featuring the life of giant pandas in China. There will also be interactive activities like panda face-painting for children, and panda origami making. The booths will be manned by Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s youth Conservation Ambassadors. Separately, the ‘Rolling with Pandas’ talk is available at a fee for group bookings with a minimum of 20 participants.
Mr S Iswaran, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister for Home Affairs and Second Minister for Trade and Industry, said, “The River Safari joins Singapore’s stable of award-winning nature attractions that have impressed many visitors, many of whom do not expect such rich and diverse nature-based attractions in a small, highly-urbanised city like Singapore. These new and refreshing nature-based experiences reinforce Singapore’s appeal as a top leisure destination, and add to our reputation as a City in a Garden.”
Also in attendance at the grand opening were representatives from Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Republic of Singapore, State Forestry Administration of China, China Wildlife Conservation Association, Presenting Sponsor and Conservation Donor CapitaLand and Airline Sponsor Singapore Airlines.
“The wait is finally over. Visitors can now meet giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia here at the Giant Panda Forest and we hope to spread the message of wildlife conservation through this beautiful and endangered species,” said Ms Claire Chiang, Chairman, Wildlife Reserves Singapore.
Ms Chiang added, “Over the past month, Kai Kai and Jia Jia have settled comfortably in their new home, having a daily intake of 20 kg of locally-grown bamboo and spending much time playing in the Giant Panda Forest. We now look forward to the both of them meeting their fans in Singapore and from around the world.”
On behalf of CapitaLand Limited, Mr Liew Mun Leong, President and CEO of CapitaLand Group, and Director of CapitaLand Hope Foundation, said, “With CapitaLand’s strong presence in China over the past 18 years, we are honoured to be part of this meaningful effort towards giant panda conservation, a milestone that is symbolic of the strong bilateral ties between Singapore and China. CapitaLand’s conservation donation is our gift to Singapore. As the Presenting Sponsor and Conservation Donor of the Giant Panda Collaborative Programme, we hope that our contribution will allow visitors at the Giant Panda Forest and River Safari to learn more about these endangered species and what they can do to protect their ecosystem.”
The Giant Panda Forest is one of the key highlights of River Safari, Asia’s first and only river-themed wildlife park. Visitors can also look forward to seeing other wildlife from China such as the golden pheasant and the red panda at the Giant Panda Forest.
River Safari is expected to open to public in Q1 2013 but visitors can visit the giant pandas from a specially-created access point in Singapore Zoo. Top-up fees of $5.00 per adult or $3.00 per child (3 to 12 years old) are applicable to visitors of Singapore Zoo* for entry into the Giant Panda Forest.
The Giant Panda Forest is one of the key highlights and developments of the upcoming River Safari, Asia’s first and only river-themed wildlife park. The new park, located in between Night Safari and Singapore Zoo, is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2013. The panda exhibit will be opened to the public ahead of the park’s official launch for visitors to enjoy a special preview of the pandas.
Visitors will be able to enter the Giant Panda Forest from a specially-created access point in Singapore Zoo. Those planning to meet Kai Kai (凯凯) and Jia Jia (嘉嘉) at the Giant Panda Forest can do so by purchasing a Singapore Zoo admission ticket* and a top-up fee of $5.00 per adult or $3.00 per child (3 to 12 years old).
“We are pleased that the giant pandas have settled into their new home and look forward to welcoming visitors who are excited to see Kai Kai and Jia Jia. By bringing visitors up close to these endangered bears, we aim to educate Singaporeans and tourists alike on the importance of conservation,” said Ms Claire Chiang, Chairman of WRS.
Tickets to the giant panda exhibit will be on sale daily from 8.30am starting 29 November. These tickets can be purchased at Singapore Zoo’s ticketing counters and are valid only on the day of purchase. Tickets are on a first-come-first-served basis to accommodate an optimum number of visitors in the Giant Panda Forest at any one time.
Apart from seeing the giant pandas, visitors to the Giant Panda Forest can look forward to meeting other wildlife from China such as the golden pheasant and the red panda. The 1,500 square-metre exhibit – the largest of its kind in South East Asia – simulates the bears’ natural habitat, with lush live plants, boulders and water features. The temperature is kept between 18-22 degrees Celsius year round and humidity is set at 50-60 per cent to ensure the pandas’ comfort.
The two pandas are here 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.
Singapore, 11 October 2012 – Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) today announced that giant pandas, Kai Kai (凯凯) and Jia Jia (嘉嘉) have completed their one-month quarantine on 6 October and are now being introduced to their new home, the Giant Panda Forest at River Safari.
The upcoming weeks will see River Safari’s zoology team, headed by Assistant Director of Zoology, Ang Cheng Chye, introducing Kai Kai and Jia Jia to their climate-controlled habitat in the Giant Panda Forest. The 1,500 square-metre exhibit – the largest in Southeast Asia – simulates the bears’ natural habitat, with lush live plants, boulders and water features. The temperature is kept between 18-22 degrees Celsius year round and humidity is set at 50-60 per cent to ensure the pandas’ comfort. The habitat’s specifications exceed those set by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
Keepers will be placing the bears’ favourite food – bamboos – in various locations in the exhibit to encourage them to explore their new surroundings. The bears’ duration in the new exhibit will be extended progressively to give ample time for them to familiarise themselves and be comfortable.
WRS’ veterinary team had previously given the giant pandas a clean bill of health after a thorough medical examination on 20 September. Both Kai Kai and Jia Jia have been feeding on locally-grown bamboos such as sulphur and Siamese bamboo a day after their arrival on 6 September.
Visitors can look forward to visiting Kai Kai and Jia Jia at the giant panda exhibit this December. Details of the opening of the Giant Panda Forest will be provided at a later stage.