Panda Le Le to quarantine for 4½ weeks before flying to Chengdu, China on S’pore Airlines

He will be the Very Important Panda passenger on the SIA flight to China.

Amber Tay | December 13, 2023, 10:13 PM



Le Le says goodbye to the Singapore public on Dec. 13 as Mandai Wildlife Group celebrates his final appearance at the Pavilion Capital Giant Panda Forest before he enters quarantine.

The panda will be heading to Chengdu, China, on Jan. 16, 2024, after four-and-a-half weeks of quarantine, where he will then join his furry panda friends at a giant panda conservation programme.

Photo courtesy of Mandai Wildlife Group

How will he be transferred?

According to Mandai Wildlife Group, Le Le will be a VIP, or Very Important Panda, during his four-and-a-half hour flight period onboard the Singapore Airlines Boeing 747-400F freighter aircraft.

He will arrive in Chengdu at around 11:30pm local time, where he will travel to a quarantine facility in Huaying, Guang’an City, Sichuan Province.

The flight will maintain a cabin temperature between 15°C and 16°C, similar to the temperature of Le Le's habitat at River Wonders’ Pavilion Capital Giant Panda Forest.

A keeper and veterinarian from Mandai Wildlife Group, as well as a keeper who arrived from China prior, will accompany Le Le on his flight journey to ensure that Le Le's needs and wellbeing are being taken care of.

Le Le gets a custom-made crate

Le Le will be travelling in a custom-made crate that is approximately 1.7m long, 1.1m wide and 1.3m high.

The crate took around two weeks to build, and was introduced to Le Le’s den on Nov. 27, 2023.

The crate was build according to guidelines by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and suggestions from Chinese experts, such as the use of removable plywood boards.

These boards will allow the keepers and veterinarian to facilitate feeding and checks when needed while in the air.

Positive Reinforcement Training was used at the beginning for Le Le to get used to the crate.

For instance, a board was held at a comfortable distance while he is rewarded with a treat. This allowed him to become conditioned to the presence of the removable plywood boards.

Photo courtesy of Mandai Wildlife Group

Travel essentials will also be brought alongside the flight, such as his in-flight meal consisting of up to 50kg of bamboo, bamboo shoots, fruit, pellets and water.

Crowds gather to see Le Le

At 12:11pm, Mothership saw a queue of visitors snaking across the pathway leading up to the Pavilion Capital Giant Panda Forest.

Video by Amber

Many visitors were also spotted wearing panda merchandise, showing their love for Le Le, Jia Jia and Kai Kai.

Photo by Audrey Lee

Photo by Audrey Lee

Mandai Wildlife Group estimated around 1,000 visitors who came to catch a glimpse of Le Le on the last day.

Panda Diplomacy

Panda diplomacy has been a practice where the Chinese government would gift pandas to other countries as a gesture of goodwill and cultivate positive international relations.

Le Le's parents, Jia Jia and Kai Kai, first arrived in Singapore in 2012 under a ten-year agreement with China.

In Sept. 2022, the agreement was extended for another five years.

Le Le, who was born during the loan, is to return once he turns two as part of the panda loan agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association. He was originally set to leave on in the second half of December, but his departure was then delayed to Jan. 16, 2024.

"Le Le has...been a wonderful ambassador for his species – helping to raise awareness regarding the threats that Giant pandas face in the wild, and allowing us to highlight the excellent work being undertaken in China to conserve his species," said Mike Barclay, group CEO of Mandai Wildlife Group.

"We continue to be grateful that we have been entrusted to care for Giant pandas and to be part of China’s global network of panda conservation programmes."

You may be interested in this video:

@mothershiponearth This isn't goodbye, it's simply see you later 🥺 You can still catch Le Le on De. 13 as he makes his last public appearance before going into quarantine to prepare for this flight back to China. #fyp #tiktoksg #mandaiwildlifereserve #pandalele ♬ original sound - Mothership on Earth

Top photos courtesy of Mandai Wildlife Group