Members of the public in Singapore can continue to enjoy the company of Kai Kai and Jia Jia for five more years until 2027, the Mandai Wildlife Group announced on Friday (Sep. 2).
The Extension Agreement on Cooperation in Panda Conservation and Research was signed between Mandai Wildlife Group and the China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA) during the signing ceremony on Friday, giving the Giant pandas five more years in Singapore.
The Giant pandas first arrived in Singapore in 2012 on a 10-year loan from China, and were due to return home in 2022.
Looking forward to further success
Recounting the milestones reached in the 10-year journey with the pandas, Chief Executive Officer of Mandai Wildlife Group Mike Barclay shared that the group is looking forward to "playing a part in their further growth and milestones".
The press conference was also attended by Minister of State Low Yen Ling, China's ambassador to Singapore Sun Haiyan as well as representatives from China's National Forestry and Grassland Administration and China Wildlife Conservation Association.
Wu Minglu, secretary-general of CWCA, noted that collaboration on Panda research and conservation "have strengthened the understanding and friendship" of China and Singapore.
So far, the partnership in Panda research and conservation has yielded more than 30 research papers and multiple rounds of technical exchanges between Chinese and Singapore experts, Wu shared.
Wu wished Kai Kai and Jia Jia a healthy stay in Singapore and success in the upcoming years of the cooperation programme.
10 years since Pandas arrived
Kai Kai and Jia Jia first arrived in Singapore on Sep. 6, 2012, from Chengdu, China.
The loan was made in commemoration of 20 years of diplomatic relations between Singapore and China.
Singapore is the 10th country to collaborate with China on Giant panda conservation and research since 1994.
Before their arrival, a nationwide naming contest was held in 2010 to decide on the names of the pandas.
In 2011, after receiving more than 1,000 submissions, a judging panel decided on the names "Kai Kai" for the male panda and "Jia Jia" for the female panda.
Opened on Nov. 29, 2012, the Giant Panda Forest was the first attraction at River Safari to welcome the public.
The S$8.6 million enclosure was built to mimic the pandas' natural habitat and is equipped with features such as a special glass roof that allows natural light in without trapping heat.
Four bamboo species are also specially cultivated by Mandai Wildlife Group's horticulturalists on-site to cater to the pandas' diet.
To date, the Giant pandas at River Safari have attracted 7.6 million visitors from around the world.
After seven breeding cycles, Kai Kai and Jia Jia successfully gave birth to a panda cub via artificial insemination on Aug. 14, 2021.
It was later announced that the cub, eventually named Le Le, would remain in Singapore for two years before returning to China to join its national Giant panda breeding programme.
Kai Kai and Jia Jia will turn 15 and 14 respectively in September, 2022.
Top Image via Wildlife Reserves Singapore