He's growing fast! Singapore-born baby panda tips the scales at almost 3kg

The cub, which is the firstborn of giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia, weighed a healthy 2.638kg on Oct 1, 2021. PHOTO: TAN CHUAN JIN

SINGAPORE - Born the size of a hamster, the first giant panda cub born in Singapore now weighs a healthy 2.6 kg.

The cub, which is the firstborn of giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia, is about six weeks old.

Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin posted photos of the panda and mother Jia Jia on his Facebook page on Friday (Oct 1) saying: "He has grown so very fast!"

He told The Straits Times the photos were taken on Friday morning by animal care officer Trisha Tay, who photographs the panda cub daily to track his growth.

Mr Tan, who is deputy chairman of Mandai Park Holdings, said: "Trisha takes him away from mummy to run checks and weighs him. And because of the bond between Jia Jia and Trisha, Jia Jia is comfortable with Trisha being with her baby."

"Usually, it should be no more than half an hour and it's when Jia Jia would be busy eating her bamboo shoots. So far, the baby also seems comfortable with Trisha too."

He added: "All is going as well as one could wish for for mummy and baby."

Mr Tan said he is not allowed to see the panda cub yet, as the zookeepers are ensuring the baby is kept in a stable environment in its early days.

He added that Wildlife Reserves Singapore staff had monitored the panda cub round the clock initially, and took a while to determine the cub's gender and weight as they had to be careful not to disrupt the daily patterns the cub was used to.

Zookeepers were initially worried about whether the mother panda would know how to take care of her cub, he noted, but said it is "moving and encouraging how well Jia Jia has taken to mothering".

The cub, which has yet to be named, was conceived after years of failed attempts.

Kai Kai and Jia Jia, the famous residents of the River Safari, arrived in Singapore from China in 2012 under a 10-year loan from the Chinese authorities.

The long-awaited birth came after the giant pandas' seventh breeding season. Kai Kai, 14, and Jia Jia, 13, began mating in 2015.

Panda cub and mother Jia Jia on Oct 1 morning. PHOTO: TAN CHUAN JIN

Giant pandas are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity, in part due to the narrow window for conception.

On the cub's healthy growth, Mr Tan said: "It's a huge credit to the hard work of the (Wildlife Reserves Singapore) team behind the scenes.

"They've really been responsible in taking care of the well being of both mum and baby panda."

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