Singapore-born giant panda cub Le Le, who turned two less than two months ago, will be returning to China in December.
Mandai Wildlife Group, which runs the River Wonders park which Le Le currently calls home, revealed the news of his return on Friday (22 September).
Le Le will be set to fulfil the "important mission of contributing to the conservation of the giant panda species", the group said.
China's panda diplomacy has seen the country present these black and white bears on loan to other nations, with the agreement that any cubs born from from these "gifts" return to the conservation programme after turning two.
A farewell event for the cub is set for 20 November 2023 at the Giant Panda Forest exhibit, before Le Le proceeds to mandatory quarantine on the same day.
The group said Le Le will leave for China in the second half of December, with more updates being shared in the coming months.
Preparations, including vaccinations, health assessments and conditioning, will take place behind the scenes to ensure Le Le is is optimal condition for his return to China.
Meanwhile, his parents Kai Kai and Jia Jia will remain in Singapore at River Wonders, under the care of the group, which will continue to work with Chinese counterparts and focus on the planning for the pair’s future breeding cycles.
Kai Kai and Jia Jia's stay in Singapore was extended for five years in 2022, after the initial 10-year agreement had passed.
Le Le prepared for separation since February
The Animal Care team at River Wonders has been preparing Le Le for his separation from Jia Jia since February 2023, as the cub started to show increasing signs of independence, such as eating, resting and playing on his own.
Jia Jia had also started to show “slight avoidance behaviours” such as moving away when Le Le approached, the group said, adding that such behavioural changes in the wild led to eventual rejection of the cubs, which was part and parcel of how giant pandas progressed in life.
To give more people a chance to say goodbye to Le Le before he makes the journey home, there will be a 40 per cent discount off the 1 Adult and 1 Child admission bundle to River Wonders.
Guests can also revisit Le Le’s adorable moments through a series of photo points, and drop off farewell fan mail.
Guests spotted in panda-inspired outfits may stand a chance to receive an exclusive Le Le sticker sheet.
Le Le will also be ‘visiting’ various locations around Singapore, via Le Le mascot meet-and-greet outings.
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