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Singapore's panda exhibit draws 2,000 on first day

Visitors to the Giant Panda Forest watching Jia Jia during their 15 minutes in the enclosure. The animals arrived at the Singapore Zoo from China on a 10-year loan more than two months ago. They will be part of the zoo’s upcoming River Safari feature. -- ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Publication Date : 30-11-2012


Pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia drew 2,000 visitors on the first day their enclosure was opened to the public.

Ken Chew and his two children, aged three and five, arrived at the Singapore Zoo at 7:20am yesterday thinking that they would have to join a long line of eager visitors waiting to buy tickets.

But they found themselves first in line as no one else had turned up so early, perhaps because it was a weekday.

"My kids had asked me to take them to see the pandas so I'm here," said the 40-year-old bank executive.

"I was expecting a long queue though," he added.

The two pandas arrived at the Singapore Zoo from China on a 10-year loan more than two months ago.

When sales of tickets to view them started at 8:30am, there were about 30 people in the queue.

But by 11am, some 700 tickets to the Giant Panda Forest, the first attraction at the upcoming River Safari, had been snapped up.

For now, visitors to the panda exhibit have to enter from the zoo because the River Safari is not up yet.

"The turnout is within our expectations for a weekday," said Isabel Cheng, chief marketing officer of Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

"We expect more visitors over the weekend, and in the coming weeks, especially seeing that the year-end holidays are upon us."

Most of the zoo visitors yesterday were children and their parents who had taken a day off from work for a family outing. Both young and old visitors were excited to see the black and white bears in the enclosure.

Their verdict of the pair? "So cute" was the common remark.

Despite being allowed only 15 minutes in the enclosure, most left the panda exhibit satisfied.

Interior designer Edwin Wong, 48, said: "The enclosure is very well- designed. Compared with Hong Kong's Ocean Park, you feel closer to the animal because there is no glass in between."

Four-year-old Megan Leong got to take home a pair of panda plush toys her father had bought at a souvenir store.

"Jia Jia is for me and Kai Kai is for mei mei (younger sister)," she said.

The exhibit is open daily from 9am to 6pm. Visitors must buy zoo admission tickets (S$20 for adults, S$13 for children) and pay an extra S$5 (adult) or S$3 (child) to see the pandas.


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