First panda cub in S'pore is called Lè Lè

Lè comes from the old Chinese term 'Shi Le Po' (石叻坡), which refers to Singapore.

Zi Shan Kow | December 29, 2021, 05:43 PM

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Singapore's first panda cub born to Kai Kai and Jia Jia in River Wonders finally has his name confirmed.

The four-month-old panda boy's name is Lè Lè.

Image by Mandai Wildlife Group.

The naming process

The cub's name was crowdsourced from members of the public after the gender reveal on Sep. 10.

Mandai Wildlife Group said that the suggested 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.

Image by Mandai Wildlife Group.

Then, five shortlisted names for the cub were released for online public voting between Nov. 3 and Nov. 7.

The names were shortlisted by a judging panel chaired by Deputy Chairman of Mandai Park Holdings Tan Chuan-Jin, as well as representatives from academia, the Chinese Embassy in Singapore, relevant government agencies and Mandai Wildlife Group.

The five names were chosen to be unique, such that no other panda in the world shares the same name.

They are: Hóng Hóng (宏宏), Lè Lè (叻叻), Xīn Lè (新乐), Xīn Yáng (新阳), and Xīn Yuán (新缘).

More than 64,000 votes were cast, and the name Lè Lè received the highest number of votes.

Lè comes from the old Chinese term 'Shi Le Po' (石叻坡), which refers to Singapore. This was in use since our beginnings as a trading port. Shi Le Po is a transliteration of the Malay term “selat” which means straits, indicative of our geographical location.

The name was jointly announced by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat and Vice Premier of the People's Republic of China Han Zheng at 17th Singapore-China Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) on Dec. 29.

Not so little one anymore. Video via Mandai Wildlife Group.


Lè Lè is the first panda cub born in Singapore since breeding efforts at River Wonders, previously known as River Safari, started in 2015.

Since mating season only takes place once a year and the fertile period for the female panda is very narrow, breeding pandas in captivity is particularly challenging.

When natural mating did not occur this breeding season, Jia Jia was artificially inseminated with five straws of frozen semen that were taken in 2020 on Apr. 24, according to the Mandai Wildlife Group.

It was only two days before Lè Lè's birth that a foetus with a strong heartbeat was detected, and the pregnancy was confirmed via ultrasound.

The healthy panda cub was born on Aug. 14, weighing in at 200g.

The baby was pink and hairless, and almost doubled its weight in its the first ten days.

Remember when the cub looked like this? Photo of 380g 10-day-old Lè Lè', courtesy of Mandai Wildlife Group.

Since then, the River Wonders team has recorded every milestone in Lè Lè's life, from when the he opened his eyes in September, to sprouting teeth in his upper gum line in October.

Lè Lè also took his first steps on Nov. 10, and the latest weigh-in now measures the cub at over 9kg.

Photo from Mandai Wildlife Group.

Public debut on Dec. 30

The panda care team is working on conditioning the cub to be away from Jia Jia for longer periods of time, and introducing him to new environments so he can adapt to different surroundings more easily.

Mandai Wildlife Group has said that Lè Lè will live with Jia Jia in Singapore until he is around two years old.

After which Lè Lè will return to China and join their breeding programme, and prepare to start his own family in the future.

The Group added that young giant pandas are considered independent at 24 months and will leave their mothers.

"This arrangement reflects the natural biology of the species," said Mandai Wildlife Group.

Lè Lè's nursery at the Giant Panda Forest in River Wonders will be open to public viewing from Dec. 30, at two time slots, marking the cub's public debut.

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Top images by Mandai Wildlife Group.