Giant panda Jia Jia on a glucose diet to boost her energy after giving birth

Jia Jia resting with cub nestled against her chest. PHOTO: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE
The panda cub was born at the River Safari at about 7.50am. PHOTO: REUTERS
Jia Jia holds her newly born cub at River Safari in Singapore on Aug 14, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Giant panda Jia Jia has not been eating well since she gave birth last week but that is normal for new panda mothers, said the Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) on Friday (Aug 20).

It added that her carers have been giving her electrolytes and glucose solution via syringe to boost her energy to ensure she remains well hydrated.

Over the coming days, Jia Jia will be presented with bamboo several times a day, and should resume her normal diet.

The panda, aged 12, had arrived in Singapore in 2012 with male giant panda Kai Kai, now aged 13. They both came from Chengdu on a 10-year loan from China.

After first mating in 2015, and seven attempts to conceive, Jia Jia gave birth to the first giant panda born in Singapore on Aug 14.

The panda cub was born at the River Safari at about 7.50am.

The Giant pandas had entered their seventh breeding season in April this year and artificial insemination was carried out then.

Reliving the moment he first discovered Jia Jia's pregnancy, WRS veterinarian Dr Heng Yirui said: "Lo and behold, we saw a beating heart. It was strange because at that premature stage, we don't see the whole heart yet - it was a pile of mash - but there was a little structure there that looked like a heart.

"I didn't believe what I was seeing."

Added Dr Heng, who joined WRS in 2018 and worked on the artificial insemination of Jia Jia: "I looked at the two keepers who were with me, and I looked back at the screen. I didn't dare to tell them anything yet because I had to process my thoughts.

"And as I was keeping my equipment for the day, I said, 'I don't believe this; but the panda is pregnant'."

The vet said "pandas sometimes show signs of pregnancy, but are not really pregnant".

In a Facebook post congratulating the WRS team, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted that it is famously difficult for pandas in captivity to reproduce.

"Pandas have only a narrow window each year to conceive... Their keepers deserve kudos for this difficult and rare accomplishment, and for persevering despite previous failures," he added.

Jia Jia is currently housed at the River Safari in an off-limits den.

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