Diplomatic Duo Makes Singapore Home

Symbols of longstanding relationship between China and Singapore, giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia, arrive in Singapore

Issue: Oct 2012

 Kai Kai and Jia Jia’s taking their first steps into their new home at the River Safari
Kai Kai and Jia Jia’s taking their first steps into their new home at the River Safari
Photo credit: Wildlife Reserves Singapore

Well ahead of their arrival in Singapore, giant pandas Kai Kai (凯凯) and Jia Jia (嘉嘉) have already created panda-monium. The diplomat duo, on loan from China thanks to an agreement inked in 2009 to mark 20 years of diplomatic relations, have inspired the curiosity of Singaporeans young and old.

Mr Teo Ser Luck, Minister of State for Trade & Industry acknowledged this when he welcomed the nation’s newest residents at Changi Airport on the morning of 6 September when he said, “Before they set foot in Singapore, Kai Kai and Jia Jia have already captured the hearts and minds of many Singaporeans, who have been eagerly awaiting their arrival. I recalled when I visited them at the Ya’an Bifengxia Panda Base four months ago, I received so many questions on when they would be coming.”

But the panda pair is more than just Singapore’s latest superstars. They are central to a joint programme between Wildlife Reserve Singapore (WRS) and China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA) to enhance awareness of conservation of these gentle giants and the development of a breeding programme for these endangered animals. Giant pandas are among the rarest of the bear family and one of the world’s most threatened species. There are only fewer than 1,600 of them left in the wild, mostly in the Sichuan province.

As Presenting Sponsor and Conservation Donor of the Giant Panda Collaborative Programme, CapitaLand Group has pledged not only to support the programme but also to do their part to spread the conservation message through its philanthropic arm, CapitaLand Hope Foundation.

From left to right: Mr Teo Ser Luck, Minister of State for Trade and Industry; Ms Claire Chiang, Chairman, Wildlife Reserves Singapore; Mr S R Nathan, Chairman of CapitaLand Hope Foundation; Mr Ng Kee Choe, Chairman of CapitaLand Group; Mr Liew Mun Leong, President and CEO of CapitaLand Group and Director of CapitaLand Hope Foundation; and Ms Jennie Chua, Director of CapitaLand Hope Foundation were among the first to welcome Kai Kai and Jia Jia to Singapore
From left to right: Mr Teo Ser Luck, Minister of State for Trade and Industry; Ms Claire Chiang, Chairman, Wildlife Reserves Singapore; Mr S R Nathan, Chairman of CapitaLand Hope Foundation; Mr Ng Kee Choe, Chairman of CapitaLand Group; Mr Liew Mun Leong, President and CEO of CapitaLand Group and Director of CapitaLand Hope Foundation; and Ms Jennie Chua, Director of CapitaLand Hope Foundation were among the first to welcome Kai Kai and Jia Jia to Singapore

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.”



CapitaLand gave 50 of these plush panda toys that become recyclable bags when unzipped as prizes for a Straits Times panda quiz organised to mark Kai Kai and Jia Jia’s arrival.
CapitaLand gave 50 of these plush panda toys that become recyclable bags when unzipped as prizes for a Straits Times panda quiz organised to mark Kai Kai and Jia Jia’s arrival.

As part of that effort, CapitaLand sponsored 50 panda toy bags they specially created from recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) bottles as prizes for a Straits Times panda quiz. Slated to run for a week, the contest which gave out prizes to participants who correctly named the two pandas closed within just a day due to overwhelming response.

Arriving to Great Fanfare

Setting off in the early hours of the morning and arriving early on 6 September, the pandas’ travel schedule was planned to minimise climate-related discomfort
Setting off in the early hours of the morning and arriving early on 6 September, the pandas’ travel schedule was planned to minimise climate-related discomfort
Photo credit: Wildlife Reserves Singapore

The pandas’ travel schedule was carefully planned to ensure that they moved with the least climate-related discomfort. So, they left Chengdu in the wee hours of the morning, After a nearly five-hour chartered plane ride in a cabin with temperatures set at 18 to 22 degrees Celsius to replicate that of their natural home, they arrived a little past eight in the morning.

A welcome ceremony was held at the JetQuay Terminal at Changi Airport to welcome the nation’s latest furry friends. Distinguished guests include Guest-of-Honour Mr Teo Ser Luck, Minister of State for Trade and Industry; Mr S R Nathan, Chairman of CapitaLand Hope Foundation; Mr Ng Kee Choe, Chairman of CapitaLand Group; Mr Liew Mun Leong, President and CEO of CapitaLand Group and Director of CapitaLand Hope Foundation; and Ms Jennie Chua, Director of CapitaLand Hope Foundation.

Mr Liew Mun Leong, President and CEO of CapitaLand Group, and Director of CapitaLand Hope Foundation, presenting the key to Kai Kai and Jia Jia’s new home at River Safari to Mr Liu Yawen, Deputy Director General, State Forestry Administration, PRC
Mr Liew Mun Leong, President and CEO of CapitaLand Group, and Director of CapitaLand Hope Foundation, presenting the key to Kai Kai and Jia Jia’s new home at River Safari to Mr Liu Yawen, Deputy Director General, State Forestry Administration, PRC

“The Giant Panda Collaborative Programme reflects the close friendship between Singapore and China. As a Singapore-headquartered company with a strong presence in China, CapitaLand is happy to be the Presenting Sponsor and Conservation Donor of the collaboration. CapitaLand looks forward to the start of an exciting journey of this 10-year effort to enhance awareness for the conservation of giant pandas and develop a breeding programme for these gentle creatures.” said Mr Ng Kee Choe, Chairman of CapitaLand Group

The pandas were transported in their own specially designed crates for comfort and safety
The pandas were transported in their own specially designed crates for comfort and safety
Photo credit: Wildlife Reserves Singapore

Five-year-old Kai Kai and his four-year-old female companion, Jia Jia, were then transported to the Singapore Zoo where some 500 pre-schoolers and primary school children were eagerly awaiting their appearance. They waved paper cut-outs of panda paws as the pandas drove by in a temperature-controlled vehicle.

The crowd waiting eagerly outside the River Safari to welcome the cuddly couple
The crowd waiting eagerly outside the River Safari to welcome the cuddly couple
Photo credit: Wildlife Reserves Singapore

Getting Comfortable in a Familiar Setting

Home for the next decade will be the S$8.6-million River Safari that has been designed to mimic the natural environment of the giant pandas. To put the pair at ease and ensure they adapt to their new den, the pandas’ two keepers at the Yan’an Bifengxia Panda Base will be staying in Singapore for six months. WRS also brought bamboo from China so the newcomers could have a taste of home until they got used to Singapore-grown bamboo.

The cuddly couple will be quarantined for a month where they will be monitored and given time to adjust before their public debut in December. Since mating season is during the summer months, everyone is hoping that next year, the treasured twosome will make it a crowd of three.


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