Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sleeping beauty and the bamboo warrior

TODAY ON SUNDAY (Special) SUNDAY May 29, 2011, Page 2 - 5
From
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Source Website:
http://www.todayonline.com/Singapore/EDC110529-0000008/Sleeping-beauty-and-the-bamboo-warrior
By
Sheralyn Tay, todayonsunday@mediacorp.com.sg, sundayspecial, Updated 08:18 AM May 29, 2011



PHOTO: “Kai Kai” (凯凯) and “Jia Jia” (嘉嘉), they'll be two of Singapore's best-loved 'migrants' when they make their way here next year. Sheralyn Tay and photographer Ong Wan Shu (try to) get up close with the giant panda cubs. - Getting to know Kai Kai and Jia Jia, the pandas who will soon call Singapore home.
TODAY ON SUNDAY (Special) SUNDAY May 29, 2011, Page 1

http://www.giantpandazoo.com/panda/
http:/www.giantpandazoo.com/panda-zoo-news/singapores-pandas-named-kai-kai-jia-jia


FOR a beast named for Beauty, she was frustratingly coy about her close-ups with the camera.



PHOTO: Jia Jia (Beautiful) Alias: Hu Bao (Precious), Age: 3, Birthday: Sept 3 2008. Birth weight: 139.8g. Current weight: 92kg. Favourite activity: Climbing trees, sleeping. Horoscope: Virgo. Chinese Zodiac: Rat.
Copyright © MediaCorp Press Ltd, by Ong Wan Shu

http://imcmsimages.mediacorp.sg/cmsfileserver/showimageCC.aspx?450&301&f=2165&img=2165_390084.jpg&h=450&w=301


The faintest rattle of the enclosure door would send her voracious fellow cub Kai Kai - birthname Wu Jie, meaning "kung fu expert" - gamboling enthusiastically into his indoor pen at the mere prospect of an apple or special panda "cake". Just like a certain famous food-loving cartoon panda.



PHOTO: Kai Kai is just like a certain famous food-loving cartoon panda
http://imcmsimages.mediacorp.sg/cmsfileserver/showimageCC.aspx?450&301&f=2165&img=2165_390086.jpg&h=450&w=301



PHOTO: Kai Kai (Victorious) Alias: Wu Jie (Kung Fu expert), Age: 4, Birthday: Sept 14 2007. Birth weight: 152.8g. Current weight: 92kg. Favourite activity: Eating, sleeping. Horoscope: Virgo. Chinese Zodiac: Ox.
Copyright © MediaCorp Press Ltd, by Ong Wan Shu

http://imcmsimages.mediacorp.sg/cmsfileserver/showimageCC.aspx?450&301&f=2165&img=2165_390083.jpg&h=450&w=301


Not so the elusive Jia Jia. Never mind that we had travelled thousands of miles hoping to make her acquaintance ahead of our fellow Singaporeans (who will get the chance when the pair arrive on these shores sometime next year) - the shy three-year-old, on hearing our approach, scooted up her favourite tree with amazing dexterity for her 92kg bulk and refused to be lured from her leafy retreat, even with food.



PHOTO: Jia Jia on hearing our approach, scooted up her favourite tree with amazing dexterity for her 92kg bulk.
Copyright © MediaCorp Press Ltd

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TODAY ON SUNDAY (Special) SUNDAY May 29, 2011, Page 2 - 5



"She is a little more timid," admitted keeper Gao Qiang in Mandarin. "If there are loud noises or too many people, she will climb a tree to avoid the perceived danger."

Our first encounter with the two panda cubs at the sprawling Ya'an Bifengxia Panda Base, a two-hour drive from Chengdu City in the Szechuan province of China, warned us that, though they might look similarly cute and furry, they were two contrasting personalities.



PHOTO: Panda cubs taking an afternoon snooze.
Photos by ONG WAN SHU, Copyright © MediaCorp Press Ltd

http://imcmsimages.mediacorp.sg/cmsfileserver/showimageCC.aspx?301&450&f=2165&img=2165_390085.jpg&h=301&w=450


Set in gorgeous mountain terrain beside the spectacular Bifengxia gorge, the base is a forest haven ringing with birdsong, murmuring streams and cricket chirps - the perfect Eden for some 80 giant pandas and 170 staff who are fighting to ensure a future for the endangered species.



PHOTO: Bifengxia gorge
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Linkhttps://picasaweb.google.com/vanessa.tay/Landscape#5334654395241986626


Kai Kai and Jia Jia are a product of the successful breeding programme of the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda, which runs the Ya'an base, one of the largest panda reserves around.



PHOTO: Kai Kai and Jia Jia are a product of the successful breeding programme
Photos by ONG WAN SHU, Copyright © MediaCorp Press Ltd

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TODAY ON SUNDAY (Special) SUNDAY May 29, 2011, Page 2 - 5



It is hard to imagine that these two black-and-white furry giants were once upon a time pink, blind, toothless, and hardly weighed more than an apple. Many newborn pandas don't survive this vulnerable state.

"Many panda mothers may not know how to care for the babies ... she may reject them, neglect them or accidentally crush them," said Mr Gao. The infants are partly hand-reared and monitored with eagle-eyes, all the more given the notoriously low mating and conception rate among Giant Pandas.



PHOTO: The kindergarten at the panda base houses for cubs aged several months to two years.
Panda Kindergarten.jpg

Photos by ONG WAN SHU, Copyright © MediaCorp Press Ltd

TODAY ON SUNDAY (Special) SUNDAY May 29, 2011, Page 2 - 5



So in a way, Jia Jia and Kai Kai are minor miracles of man's intervention.



PHOTO: Jia Jia and Kai Kai are minor miracles of man's intervention.
Photos by ONG WAN SHU, Copyright © MediaCorp Press Ltd

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All that conservation research and effort costs money, and in large part, is funded via the panda loan programme - zoos across the world have paid about US$1 million (S$1.24 million) a year to host pandas over a 10-year period.

And next year, it will be Kai Kai and Jia Jia's turn to be the programme's, and China's, ambassadors to Singapore.



PHOTO: All that conservation research and effort costs money, mainly funded via the panda loan programme. Zoos across the world have paid about US$1 million (S$1.24 million) a year.
Sleeping beauty and the bamboo warrior-4.jpg
TODAY ON SUNDAY (Special) SUNDAY May 29, 2011, Page 2 - 5



Their home for 10 years will be the Singapore Zoo's new River Safari exhibit, with CapitaLand playing their godfather as the Presenting Sponsor and Conservation Donor (sum undisclosed).





PHOTO: Ground-breaking ceremony for Asia’s first river-themed wildlife park
Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), the parent company of award-winning attractions Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari, Singapore Zoo and the upcoming River Safari, celebrates a significant milestone on May 21st, 2010, with the ground-breaking of Asia’s first river-themed wildlife park.
http://www.giantpandazoo.com/panda/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/River-Safari1-620x318.jpg
http://www.giantpandazoo.com/panda/http:/www.giantpandazoo.com/panda-zoo-news/ground-breaking-ceremony-for-asia%E2%80%99s-first-river-themed-wildlife-park



PHOTO: Artist's impression of River Safari layout
http://www.zoochat.com/gallery/data/1178/River_Safari_Map.jpg
http://www.zoochat.com/264/artists-impression-river-safari-layout-151481/



READYING THEM FOR LIFE IN SINGAPORE

The Republic is only the seventh country to receive pandas from China, under a collaboration between Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) and the China Wildlife Conservation Association.



PHOTO: Go on a River Safari in Mandai
By Grace Chua, The Straits Times | Tue, May 25 2010

Park opening in early 2012 will feature 10 different ecosystems.

http://static.relax.com.sg/site/servlet/linkableblob/relax/380598/topImage/Go_on_a_River_Safari_in_Mandai-topImage.jpg
http://www.relax.com.sg/relax/news/380598/Go_on_a_River_Safari_in_Mandai.html


Since last year, there have been several exchanges between WRS and the Ya'an base to prepare the Singapore team for the pandas' arrival - and the pandas for life in the Lion City.



PHOTO: Gearing Up for a Panda-mount Journey. From climate control to panda cakes, creature comforts will ensure an enjoyable journey to Singapore for the duo giant pandas.
Kai Kai and Jia Jia with River Safari curator Ang Cheng Chye and Head of Veterinarians Dr Serena Oh during the Singapore team's study trip at the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda in Sichuan.
Photo courtesy of Bjorn Olesen
Linkhttp://capitalandinside.com/images/stories/may11_01_panda.jpg
http://capitalandinside.com/index.php/panda-journey/771-gearing-up-for-a-panda-mount-journey


For instance, River Safari curator Ang Cheng Chye and Wildlife Reserves Singapore vet Serena Oh brought along a species of homegrown bamboo for Kai Kai and Jia Jia to sample, during one of their three visits to the base.

But it was "too thin, like toothpicks" for the cubs' liking, said Dr Oh. Not to worry - China research centre director Zhang Guiquan is confident they will get used to Singapore bamboo "based on previous experience", referring to the 100-day loan of two pandas to the Republic in 1990.



PHOTO: Attractions of Asia's first river-themed park River Safari unveiled
Mustafa Shafawi / Hetty Musfirah Channel NewsAsia 21 May 10;

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Vxu_tx5NynY/S_cF8ntg6PI/AAAAAAAAjA8/-tDknq8k7q0/s1600/river.jpg
http://wildsingaporenews.blogspot.com/2010/05/attractions-of-asias-first-river-themed.html


Besides dieticians, Singapore keepers may also have to play exercise trainers. Specifically, for Kai Kai's sake.

Said Mr Ang: "The most interesting thing we learnt from Ya'an is their exercise regime to get the mature male panda to do squats." This the keepers do by raising and lowering his food repeatedly. "This is supposed to strengthen their legs so that they can extend the mating session."

Successfully breeding pandas outside of China is notoriously tricky, but if the Singapore team gets all the conditions just right, who knows?



PHOTO: Singapore River Safari team returns to Sichuan to learn how to care for mother and baby pandas
Photo Credit: Bjorn Olesen

http://www.capitalandinside.com/images/stories/dec10_01_panda.jpg
http://www.capitalandinside.com/index.php/panda-journey/679-mama-bear-and-baby-bear


Giant pandas reach breeding maturity between four and eight years of age. And, at the special 1,500-square-metre giant panda enclosure being built at the River Safari, the two growing cubs will get the run of a lush green outdoor area, as well as an indoor pen kept at a temperate 18 to 22 degrees-Celsius - a critical temperature difference for triggering the necessary hormonal changes that make a female fertile.

"If we can do the temperature changes correctly, we can trigger fertility," said Mr Ang, "This is an area of great interest because it is the first time we are trying to breed pandas in a tropical climate."



A LIFE SPENT EATING

For now, pandas being territorial, the two cubs are being kept in separate pens (each almost as big as a football field, with a lush outdoor area, pool or climbing platform) until it's time to mate. And the Ya'an staff are keeping a close eye on the well-being of their two Singapore-bound envoys.



PHOTO: Pandas are trained from birth, using treats like the brown panda ‘cake’ seen here, to reach out and grab hold of a metal ring outside their cage to allow keepers to draw blood samples.
Panda keeper drawing blood sample.jpg

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Both cubs are weighed every ten days and, three times a month, keepers collect and weigh their excrement to monitor digestion.



PHOTO: Panda poo is weighed and sometimes analysed to monitor digestion. Pandas poo as often as 50 times a day.
Panda poo is weighed and analysed to monitor digestion.jpg

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According to keeper Mr Gao, Jia Jia and Kai Kai both have healthy appetites and consume about 10kg of bamboo a day. What is weird and unique about pandas is that they have a carnivorous digestive system, yet have adapted an almost exclusive diet of bamboo. It means they spend as much as two-thirds of the day eating - they don't easily digest plant cellulose - and in the wild, might pop the occasional small mammal or egg.



PHOTO: Keeper Mr Gao prepares a snack of apples, carrots and panda ‘cake’ of steamed fruit, vegetables, bamboo shoots, corn and wheat. They have a serving of roughly this size four to six times a day.
Keeper Mr Gao prepares a snack for the pandas.jpg
TODAY ON SUNDAY (Special) SUNDAY May 29, 2011, Page 2 - 5



At Ya'an, the cubs' diet is supplemented with carrots, apples and a special 'cake' of corn, wheat, fruit and vegetables. The last, Kai Kai's favourite snack, brings the adolescent cub running even when he is making ravenous progress through a large clump of bamboo. This made him an easy photographic subject.

Hand-fed from birth, he accepted his carrot sticks and apple slices very gently in his sharp teeth and tongue - or reached out large claw-tipped paws to grab cake which, like a greedy child, he stuffed into his mouth and chewed with open-mouthed enjoyment.

Such uncouth manners were beyond Jia Jia's delicate sensibilities. Time and again, we would leave food for her only to find it sneakily devoured while we were out of sight, and her napping again in her tree-top throne.

By the third and last day of our stay, we were so desperate for a clear shot that we were out early. As Kai Kai roamed in restless circles, calling for breakfast in puppy-like yelps and barks, the keepers yelled for Jia Jia.

And then - with a quiet snuffle, she entered her indoor pen.

Unlike her overeager future mate, she sniffed delicately at the proffered panda cake before taking it daintily.

As the camera clicked, the cheeky furball decided to reward us for our patience: She splashed herself with water from her drinking tap, lay on her back and scratched, then tumbled head over heels like a gymnast.

Back outside, she dragged out a thick stem of bamboo, fixed her gaze on the camera, and broke the bamboo in half with one resounding crunch of her jaws.



PHOTO: Jia Jia, the cheeky furball decided to reward the writer and photographer for their patience, with the perfect close-up shot.
TODAY ON SUNDAY (Special) SUNDAY May 29, 2011, Page 1


Done with this show of strength, she sauntered off leaving us open-mouthed - and with the perfect close-up shot.
By Sheralyn Tay, todayonsunday@mediacorp.com.sg, sundayspecial, Updated 08:18 AM May 29, 2011



PHOTO: My New Illustration For Jia Jia & Kai Kai Pandans (Patrick Yee Illustration) Jia Jia and Kai kai pandans will be in Singapore Zoo next year and the story about the two cute pandans coming visit Singapore Zoo and meet up with all animals.
Posted by patrick yee on Monday, March 28, 2011 at 4:24 AM at 4:24 AM

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-orYR9Gd_-3Q/TZByS8hysdI/AAAAAAAAAZ4/9k6axViliMI/s1600/5.jpg
http://patrickyeeillustration.blogspot.com/



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