A Panda-stic Point of View

Getting up close and personal with the cuddly duo will become a reality in the specially designed enclosure at the Singapore Zoo

Issue: Oct 2010

Giant Panda Exhibit
The Giant Pandas are the highlight of the Yangtze River @ River Safari – the exhibit will house a male and female panda and six different bamboo species for the pandas’ consumption within its climate-controlled enclosure

The Giant Panda may seem pretty quiet, but they can bleat, roar, growl, and honk. In fact, adult pandas can produce 11 distinct sounds to indicate various emotions such as distress and aggression.

Sounds interesting? Well, you can meet a Giant Panda up close and hear its various sounds for yourself. In Singapore, fans of the Giant Panda will soon get the chance to see this amazing animal at the River Safari when it opens in 2012.

The pair of male and female pandas will be on loan to Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s (WRS) from the China Wildlife Conservation Association as part of a 10-year joint collaboration to promote the conservation of Giant Pandas and kick-start a breeding research programme.

CapitaLand is the Presenting Sponsor and Conservation Donor of this Giant Panda collaborative programme.

2 giant pandas
The two black and white stars, due in Singapore in 2012, can look forward to an ideal abode at the River Safari while their fans can also view them up close

Up Close

The River Safari is Asia’s first river-themed park and the fourth and latest nature attraction presented by WRS.

And unlike most zoos that house the Giant Panda, visitors at the River Safari will be able to observe these bears up close in an environment very similar to that of their natural habitat.

According to Cham Tud Yinn, Director of Exhibit Design and Development at WRS, the Giant Pandas will be separated from the visitors by only a moat within this environment.

“The pandas can go as close as 2.5 metres from the visitors or retreat to a distance of 15 metres away. With strategic placement and positioning of feeding and climbing platforms, visitors will have good unobstructed views of the pandas almost all the time.

“There will be a boardwalk within the enclosure which enables visitors to observe the pandas better. For the safety of our visitors, hand rails and low glass barriers will also be installed along the edge of the boardwalk,” reveals Cham.

The boardwalk will lead visitors to an open area and an enclosed area to observe the pandas. The open area allows the pandas to have the option to enter an outdoor yard for fresh air and a chance to experience the local climate. The enclosed area has a temperature much closer to what the pandas are used to. Visitors, however, get to stay within the constant cool temperature of the climate-controlled enclosure while they view the pandas in both these environments.

When designing the enclosure for all animals, the team at the River Safari aims to create an environment that is as close as possible to that of the animals’ natural habitat.

Giant Panda Outdoor Area
An outdoor area gives the Giant Pandas the chance to experience the local climate and zoo staff to observe their reaction to different temperatures

Making the Giant Pandas Feel at Home

"The Giant Panda enclosure is approximately 1,500 square metres and will be air-conditioned to maintain the temperature at 18 to 22 degrees Celsius and humidity levels at 50 to 60 per cent. We will provide a habitat that is naturally landscaped with a lush bamboo forest, shallow streams, trees and boulders for the animals to explore and play.

“The proposed exhibit does not just show the Giant Pandas but the Giant Pandas in their natural habitat which will complete with plants and other animals like the Lesser Red Panda, turtles, frogs and fish from Yangtze River,” said Cham.

Taking Care of the ‘Bear’ Necessities

Giant Pandas are the rarest members of the bear family and are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species, which means that this bear is endangered.

However, international conservation efforts to restore panda habitats such as creating forest reserves and captive breeding programmes help ensure the future survival of the Giant Panda population.

To ensure that the conservation programme at the River Safari is a success, Cham says that the environment created by the team for the pandas should not only meet their basic needs of food and shelter, but also provide them enrichment and stimulation.

“The proposed panda enclosure has varied topography and a naturalistic environment which includes plants, trees, logs, boulders and pools. This allows choices for the pandas to rest, explore, climb and even swim,” he explains.

Lesser Red Panda Exhibit
Exhibits like the Lesser Red Panda help to create an environment that reflects the surroundings of the Giant Panda’s natural habitat
Photo-op with the Giant Pandas
Visitors will be able to capture memories of their Giant Panda experience by taking a picture with these life-like panda figures at the River Safari

Tender Care for the Panda Bear

To ensure that the Giant Pandas are well cared for, a team of four dedicated and experienced staff have been identified to tend to the pandas.

In addition, four members of staff from China’s panda team will be in Singapore - two at a time for six months over a one-year duration to train and see to the establishment of the ideal habitat for the pandas in their new home in Singapore.

A team of veterinarians, zookeepers, and researchers will also care for the pandas, in line with World Association of Zoos and Aquariums standards and recommendations.

With so much effort put into the new home and hospitality, the team is determined to make the Giant Pandas feel welcomed and at home for their 10-year stay here.

Do look out for our next report in the Panda series as we find out more fascinating facts about these endangered animals from our Singapore panda team of WRS who will be returning from the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda in Ya’an, Sichuan.

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