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Rare red pandas to feature in River Safari

Endangered pair will share spotlight, enclosure with China's giant pandas

Published on Aug 20, 2012 6:00 AM
 
The raccoon-like red pandas (above) arrived last month from Johannesburg Zoo as part of an exchange programme and will share an enclosure in the Safari's Yangtze River zone with the giant pandas. -- PHOTO: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia may be the headlining acts at the upcoming River Safari but the supporting cast members are no lightweights either.

The giant-panda enclosure at Singapore's latest tourist attraction will also feature two red pandas - an endangered species.

The raccoon-like animal was once thought to be from the same family as the giant panda because they have eye patches, share a fondness for bamboo and thrive in high-altitude forest habitats in central China.

But red pandas are reddish- brown and the size of house cats, while black-and-white giant pandas can weigh up to 150kg.

 
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Background story

Eight zones based on world river systems

THE River Safari - Asia's first and only river-themed wildlife park - will open in the first quarter of next year and will have eight zones inspired by well- known river systems.

1. Mississippi River (United States)

Observe beavers along the banks and see how animals such as the snapping turtle move underwater.

2. Congo River (central Africa)

Take a walk through dense rainforest, the home of dwarf crocodiles, which grow no bigger than 1.6m in length - the smallest among crocodiles.

3. River Nile (north-east Africa)

Underwater views will provide a close-up look at African tiger fish, giraffe catfish and the spiny eel.

4. Ganges River (India)

Visitors can immerse themselves "underwater" in a cross-section of the river set against a backdrop of the iconic Varanasi riverbank temple.

5. Murray River (Australia)

This freshwater river system will be home to Australia's native Murray cod, lungfish, frogs and terrapins.

6. Mekong River (South-east Asia)

Modelled after a floating Mekong village, the zone is home to animals such as the long-tailed macaque and giant Mekong catfish.

7. Yangtze River (China)

A re-creation of the high-altitude home of the giant panda. Highlights will include the two giant pandas on loan from China (Kai Kai and Jia Jia), two red pandas, Yangtze alligators and giant salamanders, all of which are endangered.

8. Amazon River (South America)

Take a 15-minute boat ride through the Amazon forest and catch sight of animals such as the tapir, jaguar, giant anteater and sloth.

This zone will also have a large freshwater tank offering a glimpse of life underwater, with fish meandering through tree roots.