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Singapore Welcome First Ever Giant Panda Cub

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: August 16, 2021 1:59 pm

Giant Panda Cub River Safari WRS

Giant Panda Jia Jia holds her cub born on August 14th 2021 at River Safari in her mouth

Photo Credit: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Wildlife Reserves Singapore have welcomed the first ever giant panda cub born in Singapore. The cub was born to mother Jia Jia at the River Safari Park in August 14th 2021. Resident male Kai Kai is the father of the cub.

Keepers at the park have as yet been unable to determine the gender of the cub. Mother and cub are being given a chance to bond in an off-exhibit den. As a first time mother keepers are pleased that Jia Jia's maternal instincts immediately kicked in.

The birth of the cub has been eagerly anticipated since signs of the pregnancy were first sighted during an ultrasound in July.

“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.

Giant Panda Cub River Safari WRS

CCTV footage shows mother Jia Jia and her cub soon after the birth

Photo Credit: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

It is difficult to determine the pregnancy of a panda as Cheng explained, "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!” 

In April the panda pair started showing signs that they were in heat and their seventh breeding season began. The River Safari team worked closely with the China Conservation and Research Centre for Giant Panda (CCRCGP) to develop a breeding plan. The aim was to emphasize natural mating and use assisted reproductive technology if needed.

While the courtship between Kai Kai and Jia Jia was unfolding keepers were wanting to make use of the dwindling opportunity and carried out an artificial insemination procedure using semen collected before the mating season.

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"Jia Jia’s first pregnancy and birth of a cub is a significant milestone for us in the care of this threatened species in Singapore. 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,” added Dr Cheng.

Giant pandas are recognized worldwide as a symbol for conservation but in good news have recently had their status on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species reduced from Endangered to Vulnerable.

While their overall numbers have increased it has been noted in a recent study that the population is more fragmented and isolated than they were 30 years ago.

Kai Kai and Jia Jia act as ambassadors for the threatened species in Singapore.

Giant Panda Cub River Safari WRS

The father of the cub Kai Kai is seen eating bamboo in the giant panda at River Safari, he is not involved in care for the cub

Photo Credit: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Learn more about Giant Pandas here – Giant Panda Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about River Safari on their website – River Safari

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