Panda cub Le Le’s departure to China postponed till Jan 2024; farewell event to be held on Dec 13
Le Le was previously slated to leave for China in December this year.
Members of the public will have more time to say their final goodbyes to Le Le, Singapore’s two-year-old panda cub. His departure to China has been delayed till Jan 14 next year, announced Mandai Wildlife Group on Friday (Nov 10).
Le Le will make his final public appearance on Dec 13 in the Pavilion Capital Giant Panda Forest at River Wonders, before proceeding into quarantine the next day. The Bon Voyage, Le Le! campaign – which includes interactive photo points and a farewell fanmail box – will continue through to Dec 13 as well.
Upon arriving in China, Le Le will officially join the country’s conservation programme to safeguard his species, said Mandai Wildlife Group. This was one of the terms of the original panda loan agreement made with the China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA) back in 2021.
Panda parents Kai Kai and Jia Jia will remain in Singapore under the care of the River Wonders team. An extension agreement was signed in 2022 to extend their stay till 2027.
According to the Mandai Wildlife Group, Jia Jia has started exhibiting avoidance behaviours such as moving away when Le Le approaches. In the last month, she has also been observed to display initial signs of rejection, like chasing Le Le away.
This behaviour is part and parcel of the life stage progression of giant pandas, which are solitary animals by nature, explained the group.
Jia Jia will eventually reject two-year-old Le Le completely. Preparations have been underway by the animal care team at River Wonders for a “smooth transition” for the pandas’ separation, added Mandai Wildlife Group.
Throughout the coming months, experts from the Mandai Wildlife Group and CWCA will also work to ensure that Le Le is in optimal condition for his journey to China. This involves vaccinations, health assessments and behavioural conditioning.
A customised crate is being constructed to transport Le Le to China, said the Mandai Wildlife Group. Upon completion, the animal care team will begin familiarising Le Le with his crate. They will do so through rewarding him with food, thus encouraging him to voluntarily enter the crate and get accustomed to being inside.
This will make it “as stress-free as possible” on the day of Le Le’s flight. Mandai Wildlife Group is also working closely with national carrier Singapore Airlines to ensure a safe journey for Le Le to China.
In the lead-up to his departure, Le Le and Jia Jia will be timesharing the Giant Panda exhibit. Visitors can view Le Le from 10am to 2pm, and Jia Jia from 2pm to 6pm.
Mandai Wildlife Group added that there will also be a farewell party on Le Le’s last day in the exhibit on Dec 13.
Tickets for the Giant Panda exhibit can be purchased at River Wonders’ website. Local residents may receive a 20 per cent discount by signing up for a free WildPass.