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Singapore ready to greet panda pair

Personnel help giant panda Wujie move into a transport cage before heading to Singapore yesterday at the Bifengxia Base of China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda in Ya'an, Sichuan province. Heng Yi/for China Daily

Publication Date : 06-09-2012


Meeting Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing on Tuesday, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said his nation is looking forward to the arrival of the panda pair Wujie and Hubao.

The pair left yesterday afternoon the Bifengxia Base of China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda in Ya'an, Sichuan province, for Chengdu, capital of Sichuan.

"They will be flown from Chengdu in the wee hours of Thursday [today] on board a Singapore Airlines Cargo Boeing 747 and are expected to touch down at Changi Airport in Singapore at 8:20 a.m.," said Heng Yi, an information officer at the centre.

To prepare for the pair's trip to Singapore, the base put them in quarantine on Aug. 1. On the morning of Aug. 28, experts from the base and Singapore gave them a thorough physical examination.

"The examination showed that Wujie and Hubao are very healthy," said Tang Chunxiang, a veterinarian and assistant to the director of the centre.

The centre prepared a week's worth of food for the duo, including bamboo, buns and fruits.

"Pandas can adapt quickly. While receiving food from Bifengxia, keepers will feed them Singaporean bamboo, too. After a week in Singapore, they can adapt to bamboo there," he said.

Wujie, a male panda who will be renamed Kaikai in Singapore, was born in September 2007; and Hubao, a female who will be renamed Jiajia, was born in September 2008. They will stay in the River Safari Zoo in Singapore for 10 years.

After a month long quarantine, they will be released into their exhibit in the River Safari Zoo to familiarise themselves with their new environment before going on public display in December.

Some Singaporean companies are already geared up to jump on the panda bandwagon, according to The Jakarta Post.

They are rolling out souvenirs, such as panda-inspired bags and toys, to coincide with the arrival of the two pandas.

The souvenirs include stamps by Singapore Post and commemorative coins issued by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Singapore Airlines will offer limited-edition panda plush toys this weekend to raise funds for children with special needs.

People who donate S$20 (US$16) or more can choose a male or female panda plush toy clad in the airliner's signature batik cloth.

Tourism and marketing experts said the pandas will boost tourism receipts, The Jakarta Post reported.

Hu signed an agreement loaning a panda pair to Singapore during his visit there in 2009.

Wujie and Hubao are not the first Chinese pandas on Singaporean soil.

After China and Singapore established diplomatic relations in 1990, two pandas from China, An'an and Xinxing, were on display for more than three months in Singapore, attracting more than 400,000 visitors. It was the first exhibition of pandas in Southeast Asia.

China started implementing panda diplomacy in the 1950s.

From 1957 to 1982, it presented 23 pandas as gifts to nine countries as a form of goodwill. It set up a loan system in 1984 under which foreign zoos can house pairs of pandas in the captive breeding programme.

China usually gets $1 million annually in fees for each loaned panda. The State Forestry Administration promises to use 60 percent of the funds received for wild panda protection and 40 per cent for research on pandas raised in captivity.


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