Kai Kai and Jia Jia gives birth to Singapore’s first giant panda cub
The panda cub, whose gender is yet to be determined, was born on Aug 14.
After years of trying, River Safari’s beloved giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia finally have a child of their own.
The Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) announced on Sunday (Aug 15) that Jia Jia gave birth to a cub on Saturday, making it the first panda cub to be born in Singapore.
The cub weighs in at an estimated 200g. Its gender is yet to be determined and will be announced later, said WRS. There were also no mentions of the cub’s name.
Since their arrival in Singapore in 2012, the nation has been cheering 13-year-old Kai Kai and 12-year-old Jia Jia in their season mating attempts.
In April this year, both pandas entered their seventh breeding season after displaying signs of being in heat. The WRS worked closely with the China Conservation and Research Centre for Giant Panda (CCRCGP) and initiated the breeding plan for 2021, emphasing natural mating with assisted reproductive technology as back up if required.
There was optimism that the pandas would naturally breed this year, after the pair had shown improvements in their mating techniques the year before, said WRS.
In July, ultrasound scans showed a thickening of Jia Jia’s cervix and some fluid in the uterine horns.
“We stayed hopeful for Jia Jia, while maintaining her ultrasound checks to monitor developments,” shared Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS)’s Deputy CEO and Chief Life Sciences Officer.
“Female giant pandas display pseudopregnancy, exhibiting all the hormonal and behavioural signs of pregnancy even when they are not expecting. The only sure way of confirming a pregnancy is visualisation of a foetus near to term. This happened for us (on 10 August) when our vet picked up, on ultrasound, not only a clear outline of a foetus but one with a strong heartbeat!”.
WRS said that the back-of-house River Safari’s Giant Panda Forest has been abuzz since the animal care team confirmed the pregnancy.
Jia Jia’s first pregnancy and birth of a cub is a significant milestone in the care of the threatened species in Singapore, said Dr Cheng. Giant panda’s conservation threat status recently improved from Endangered to Vulnerable on the IUCN* Red List of Threatened Species.
This is the result of good animal care, assisted reproductive science and sheer perseverance on the part of our staff coupled with valuable advice from the China panda experts. The work continues now with supporting the first-time mother to raise her newborn cub,” said Dr Cheng.