Panda Pair Bid China Goodbye
Kai Kai and Jia Jia given a VIP send-off at farewell ceremony in Ya’an
Issue: Oct 2012
Mr Lim Ming Yan, Chief Operating Officer, CapitaLand Limited, and Pan Shaohong, a student from CapitaLand Muchuan Green Hope School, Sichuan, preparing to present a scroll painting to Singapore’s Senior Minister of State, Mr Lee Yi Shyan. The painting represents the well-wishes from the children of CapitaLand Hope Schools in China to the pandas.
For two years, giant pandas Kai Kai (凯凯) and Jia Jia (嘉嘉) have been at the centre of media and zoological attention. Since President Hu Jintao agreed to loan Singapore a pair of pandas in 2009 to mark 20 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries, both sides have been hard at work ensuring that the black and white beauties transit successfully from their birthplace in China to their adopted home in the topics.
Wildlife Reserve Singapore (WRS) chairman, Ms Claire Chiang; and WRS Chief Executive Officer, Mr Lee Tat Meng presenting VIP card to Director, Wolong Nature Reserve Administration Bureau, Sichuan, Mr Zhang Hemin; and Deputy Director, Wolong Natural Reserve Administration Bureau, Sichuan, Mr Li Desheng at Kai Kai and Jia Jia’s farewell ceremony
The celebrity couple, set to live in Singapore for the next 10 years, is part of a collaborative effort between Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) and China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA) to promote giant panda conservation, embark on a giant panda breeding programme and raise public awareness of conservation. As the Presenting Sponsor and Conservation Donor of the programme, CapitaLand has pledged to support the conservation and research work. This includes the building of the pandas’ habitat at the River Safari Zoo; their care in captivity; the provision of facilities for research, conservation and breeding; and panda husbandry. To further spread the conservation message, CapitaLand’s philanthropic arm, CapitaLand Hope Foundation (CHF), will partner WRS to develop educational programmes and materials to teach underprivileged children about the importance of wildlife conservation and biodiversity.
On the furry shoulders of this dynamic duo, then, rest the goodwill between China and Singapore fostered from years past and the hopes of conservationists for a future for these highly endangered animals. Little wonder, then, that Kai Kai and Jia Jia have fuelled so much excitement.
On 5 September, all the brouhaha culminated in a spectacular farewell ceremony at Bifengxia Panda Base in Ya’an for the twosome. Gracing the event were Singapore’s Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ministry of National Development, Mr Lee Yi Shyan; Deputy Director, Department of Wildlife Conservation and Natural Reserve Management, State Forestry Administration, People’s Republic of China, Mr Jia Jiansheng; and Chief Operating Officer, CapitaLand Limited, Mr Lim Ming Yan.
Said Mr Lim, “CapitaLand is committed to contributing positively towards the communities we operate in. China is one of CapitaLand’s core markets and our conservation donation is a testament of CapitaLand’s long-term commitment in China. Just as how we strive to build a lasting company, we embrace the importance of conserving wildlife as it belongs to future generations as well as our own.”
Students from CapitaLand Muchuan Green Hope School, Sichuan presenting Singapore’s Senior Minister of State Lee Yi Shyan with a panda painting
“CapitaLand Hope Foundation is pleased to give its support to the Giant Panda Collaborative Programme. We welcome Kai Kai and Jia Jia to Singapore, and are excited to embark on the 10-year Programme. It is a good platform for cultural exchange and understanding between Singapore and China, and for younger Singaporeans to be educated about caring for Mother Earth by learning to embrace biodiversity,” said Ms Jennie Chua, Director, CapitaLand Hope Foundation.
Amidst song and dance performances by the residents of Ya’an in the Sichuan province where the panda are from, Mr Lim led two children from CapitaLand Muchuan Green Hope School, Sichuan to present a scroll painting to Singapore’s Senior Minister of State, Mr Lee Yi Shyan. The painting depicts a happy giant panda family in a bamboo forest, decorated with the two children’s handprints and represents the well wishes of the approximately 8,000 children in the 23 CapitaLand Hope Schools in China for Kai Kai and Jia Jia to lead a healthy, happy life in Singapore. The baby pandas in the painting represent hopes for the pitter-patter of panda feet, while the bamboo forest embodies the evergreen bilateral ties between Singapore and China.
Minster Lee Yi Shyan feeding Jia Jia at the research center while her breeder watches
Platinum-class Travel for Pandas
Each panda had its own custom-made black travelling crate filled with bamboo, fruits and water in case they needed a snack en route. Since pandas eat an average of 20 kilograms of a day, about 90 kilograms of bamboo were packed for the journey. The pandas were also driven in air-conditioned trucks that would not travel more than 60 kilometres an hour to ensure a smooth ride.
From Chengdu to Singapore, the VIPs were placed in the middle of a 747 cargo plane with a main deck the size of a basketball court to minimise turbulence because the centre of a plane is its most stable part. Their flight began in the early hours of 6 September and the cabin was kept dark to keep Kai Kai and Jia Jia comfortable. They did not travel alone either. On board were a vet from WRS and four zoo keepers, two each from Singapore and China armed with medication to monitor the pandas on their maiden journey out of China.
The giant pandas being transported from a temporary cage to their individual custom-made travelling crate filled with panda snacks like bamboo and fruits, and water for their journey
After six hours, the two guests arrived in Singapore. They will be quarantined for a month before being introduced to the public at the River Safari Zoo, their home for the coming decade. Then, a new chapter in their lives will begin.
Kai Kai and Jia Jia leaving their home at Ya’an Bifengxia Panda Base in a temperature-controlled truck to the airport