S’pore-born giant panda cub Le Le arrives safely in China, begins quarantine

Le Le maintained a good appetite throughout the flight, chomping on bamboo and bamboo shoots. - MANDAI WILDLIFE GROUP

SINGAPORE: Giant panda cub Le Le has safely arrived in Chengdu, China, and is now serving his second round of mandatory quarantine, Mandai Wildlife Group and Singapore Airlines (SIA) said in a joint media statement on Jan 17.

The cub, who turns three years old in August, completed a first round of quarantine – which lasted 4½ weeks – at River Wonders in the Mandai Wildlife Reserve in Singapore before his flight.

During the second round of quarantine in Huaying, Guang’an city, in Sichuan province, the Singapore-born panda cub will be closely monitored by the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda to determine his next home.

Xinhua news agency reported that he will be in quarantine for 30 days in China.

Qin Wen, cultural counsellor at the Chinese Embassy in Singapore, had previously said: “If all goes well, he will meet the public around Chinese New Year.” Chinese New Year falls on Feb 10 and 11.

Under the terms of Chinese panda loan agreements, cubs born on foreign soil are generally returned to China when they turn two.

Le Le made his final appearance at the Pavilion Capital Giant Panda Forest at River Wonders on Dec 13, before he was quarantined in his den on Dec 14.

On Jan 16, the VIP – or very important panda, as SIA dubbed him – was transported to Changi Airport via the Bukit Timah, Seletar and Tampines expressways in a customised crate for his chartered flight to Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport.

According to aviation site Flightradar24, the flight departed at 7.17pm Singapore time and landed at 11.14pm.

“Departure day was filled with emotional moments as the panda care team prepared Le Le for his flight and said their heartfelt goodbyes to him,” said Mandai and SIA.

The panda care team even made a handcrafted heart-shaped card, with their good wishes for the giant panda, to attach to his crate to accompany him on his journey.

Guests including Minister of State for Trade and Industry Alvin Tan; Mr Zhu Jing, charge d’affaires ad interim of the Chinese Embassy in Singapore; and Ms Qin were on the airport tarmac to bid farewell to Le Le.

Joining him on the flight were his keeper Trisha Tay, a veterinarian from Mandai Wildlife Group, as well as a keeper from China, who fed and checked on Le Le on board the aircraft.

“Le Le took well to the flight and maintained a good appetite throughout, chomping on bamboo and bamboo shoots,” said the statement.

“Le Le’s arrival in China marks a new chapter for him as he now officially joins China’s giant panda conservation programme for the protection of his species.” - The Straits Times/ANN

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Singapore , giant panda , Le Le , China


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