After close to a month, the Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) revealed today (Sep. 10) that the panda cub is a boy.
Incidentally, River Safari is also celebrating panda dad Kai Kai's 14th birthday.
The panda cub was born on Aug. 14, to giant panda parents Jia Jia and Kai Kai at River Safari.
This is their first baby after six tries in seven years.
It's a boy!
The gender of the cub was determined through a series of visual assessments performed by WRS’s panda care team, led by Animal Care Officer, Trisha Tay Ting Ni.
Experts from China Conservation and Research Centre for Giant Panda (CCRCGP) confirmed that the gender after observing the cub through a series of photos and videos shared by the WRS panda care team.
The boy continues to be with his mother Jia Jia who has been described to be a "super mum", so he has not undergone a full veterinary examination yet.
However, there have not been any reasons for any medical interventions as the cub appears to be growing well under panda mum's care.
Cheng Wen-Haur, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Life Sciences Officer at WRS, praised first-time mum Jia Jia for "exceeding all expectations in caring for her cub", adding that the panda care team has decided to allow this period of maternal care to continue for as long as possible for the duo to strengthen their bond.
The team will only retrieve the cub for veterinary checks "when the time is right”, Cheng added.
As Jia Jia cares for her baby boy, the panda care team has been focusing on supporting Jia Jia, such as feeding her with glucose water and providing her with fresh bamboo even though her appetite may not be as strong yet.
Fortunately, in recent weeks, Jia Jia has slowly regained her appetite and was sighted munching on the fresh bamboos.
The close relationship between Jia Jia and her carers has allowed them to observe the cub at close range, enabling them to confirm the presence of external male genitalia, WRS stated.
Conditioning Jia Jia for cub retrieval
So when will the time be right for the panda cub to get a close medical examination? One factor will be Jia Jia's readiness to let go of her cub.
According to WRS, Jia Jia will undergo some conditioning sessions after she settles into her mothering routine and gets more rest.
These sessions include training her to have her back towards the den bars through positive reinforcement for keepers to feel around her abdomen where the cub is usually cradled. Another exercise involves fetching a "toy".
These sessions will increase Jia Jia's comfort level for the cub to be retrieved by the panda care team.
These sessions are also not entirely new to Jia Jia as she has regularly undergone positive reinforcement training since 2015 in preparation for a panda cub.
Calling for name suggestions for panda cub
The panda cub will turn 100 days old on November 21 and it is a tradition for pandas to be named by then.
Members of the public are encouraged to suggest names for the panda cub from now till Sep. 19, 2359h.
The names should be catchy, easy to remember, reflecting characters with positive meanings or attributes, have relevance to Singapore heritage and culture as well as significance to the friendship between Singapore and China, WRS said.
A judging panel chaired by Tan Chuan-Jin, Deputy Chairman of Mandai Park Holdings, will oversee the process.
Shortlisted names will be released for public voting, and the panda cub will take the name with the most number of votes.
You can find out more details on how to participate via www.wrs.com.sg/pandacub.
Top photos by WRS