SINGAPORE – Keepers at River Safari recently threw a birthday bash for giant pandas—Kai Kai and Jia Jia—with honey-flavoured ice cakes decorated with apple and carrot slices, some of their favourite treats.
Male Kai Kai celebrates his ninth birthday today, and female Jia Jia turned eight on 3 September 2016. Their ice cakes weighed a collective 7kg, and took keepers four days to make.
Both giant pandas arrived in River Safari in 2012 on a 10-year loan from China. Kai Kai and Jia Jia entered their second mating season in April earlier this year, but both natural mating and artificial insemination had been unsuccessful. From weeks of displaying pseudo-pregnancy behaviour, female panda Jia Jia is gradually returning to a quiet life of normalcy.
ABOVE LEFT: Nor Faizah Bt Abdul Aziz, 23, Junior Keeper, and Halim Ali, 49, Assistant Curator, putting the final touches on Kai Kai’s cake.
ABOVE RIGHT: Ivan Ang, 26, Junior Keeper, gently placing sliced carrots on Jia Jia’s cake. Giant pandas consume up to 20kg of bamboo daily, and Kai Kai and Jia Jia also enjoy fruits, vegetables and high fibre biscuits. Photo credit: Wildlife Reserves Singapore
Keepers and vet remain optimistic for a future Singapore panda cub as Jia Jia is still very young (teenager in human years), and will continue to employ conservation breeding techniques proven to be successful before in other zoos.