SINGAPORE — The gender of the panda cub born at the River Safari last month was revealed on Friday (10 September) to be a male - and members of the public in Singapore will get to name him.
Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) said in a media release that the gender of the cub - born to the River Safari's two giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia - was determined through a series of visual assessments by its panda care team to confirm the presence of external male genitalia.
This was subsequently confirmed in consultation with experts from the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda, who observed the cub through a series of photos and videos taken by the WRS panda care team.
On Friday, a gender reveal party was staged as part of father panda Kai Kai's 14th birthday celebrations, as he tugged on an enrichment gift which released carrots along with blue confetti. Kai Kai's birthday falls on 14 September, about a month after the birth of his cub.
Mother panda Jia Jia caring for the cub capably
As the cub begins to develop prominent black markings around his eyes, ears and body, his fur is expected to be fully grown within the next few weeks, and he will soon open his eyes to the world.
Meanwhile, Jia Jia has also regained her appetite and has slowly resumed eating, munching on bamboo leaves while cradling her cub. Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, WRS' deputy chief executive officer and chief life sciences officer, said that Jia Jia has "exceeded all expectations" in caring for her cub.
"As such, the panda care team has decided to allow this period of maternal care to continue for as long as possible for the duo to strengthen their bond."
As Jia Jia further settles into her mothering routine and rests more, her carers will slowly start to resume conditioning sessions via positive reinforcement training to prime her for cub retrieval. Only then would the care team be able to conduct thorough health checks on the baby cub.
Naming panda cub before it turns 100 days old
WRS also announced that members of the public will be able to play a part in naming the panda cub before it turns 100 days old on 21 November.
They have until 19 September to submit their name suggestions to the WRS website. Shortlisted names will be released for public voting, and the panda cub will take the name with the most number of votes.
Names should be catchy and easy to remember, while reflecting characters with positive meanings or attributes, have relevance to Singapore heritage and culture as well as significance to the friendship between Singapore and China.
A judging panel - chaired by Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin, who is also deputy chairman of Mandai Park Holdings - will oversee the process. The panel will include representatives from academia, the Chinese Embassy in Singapore, relevant government agencies and WRS.
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