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Visit Kai Kai and Jia Jia at River Safari from Nov 29

The Giant Panda Forest exhibit will open at River Safari on Nov 29, earlier than the December opening announced earlier.
The Straits Times - October 30, 2012
By: Ng Kai Ling
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Visit Kai Kai and Jia Jia at River Safari from Nov 29 Female panda Jia Jia (above) sitting on a branch inside the 1,500 sq m Giant Panda Forest enclosure it shares with male panda Kai Kai. The temperature inside is kept at 18 deg C to 22 deg C. As the River Safari will open only next year, visitors have to b

FEMALE panda Jia Jia is known to be cautious and wary, but at a media preview yesterday - ahead of the opening of the panda exhibit on Nov 29 - it was in top form.

Unlike male panda Kai Kai which mostly just sat and ate stalks of bamboo, Jia Jia made full use of its half of the 1,500 sq m Giant Panda Forest.

The four-year-old paraded around its home in the River Safari, showed off its agility by climbing up a log and hanging from it, scratched its back by rubbing it against a wall, and took a dip in the pond.

So active was Jia Jia that River Safari assistant director of zoology Ang Cheng Chye joked that it was hamming it up for the cameras. He added: "Kai Kai is more contented with just eating and resting. He is not as active. He hasn't even climbed anything."

Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), which owns the River Safari, yesterday said the exhibit will open on Nov 29, earlier than the December opening announced earlier. Because the River Safari will open only in the first quarter of next year, access to the panda exhibit for now will be from the Singapore Zoo.

Visitors have to buy zoo admission tickets ($20 for adults, $13 for children) and pay an additional fee of $5 for each adult or $3 for each child to see the pandas. Tickets will be on sale from 8.30am daily.

WRS, which also owns the zoo, expects thousands to turn up. To ensure an optimal viewing experience, each ticket-holder will be allowed 15 minutes in the exhibit.

Visitors have to specify preferred time slots when buying tickets. Every 15-minute block can accommodate 150 people. Viewing will be from 9am to 6pm daily.

"If we let people in all at the same time, it would not be a pleasant experience for visitors or the pandas," said Ms Isabel Cheng, WRS director of sales, marketing and communications.

Visitors will be on an elevated boardwalk overlooking the panda enclosure.

The pandas, on a 10-year loan from China, arrived in Singapore last month and were put in quarantine. They were released into their climate-controlled enclosure earlier this month.

The temperature in the $8.6 million enclosure is kept at between 18 and 22 deg C with humidity set at 50 to 60 per cent.

Mr Ang said while Jia Jia was very active yesterday, it was initially apprehensive about its new home. "We put food in the enclosure to entice them to come out. It took Jia Jia a couple of days before she started eating in the enclosure," he said.

Besides the giant pandas, the enclosure houses two other types of animals native to China - two golden pheasants and two red pandas, which are raccoon-like animals.

Ahead of Nov 29, Straits Times readers will get a chance to be part of a special preview on Nov 24. Watch out for The Straits Times Appreciates Readers Panda-monium Contest No. 3 next week. Ten readers will each win two tickets to the preview.

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