Panda cub Le Le's name reveal: All you need to know

Le Le in his new nursery on Dec 12, 2021. PHOTO: MANDAI WILDLIFE GROUP
Le Le in his nursery on Dec 19, 2021. PHOTO: MANDAI WILDLIFE GROUP

SINGAPORE - The name of the first panda cub born here has been revealed - his name is Le Le.

The cub's name was jointly announced by Singapore and China on Wednesday (Dec 29), following much excitement among members of the public, who got to vote for their favourite out of five options last month.

Here are some key facts about the cub:

1. What does his name mean?

Le Le comes from the old Chinese term "shi le po", which refers to Singapore. This term was in use back when Singapore was starting out as a trading port. It is also a transliteration of the Malay term "selat" which means straits, and is indicative of Singapore's geographical location.

The other names in the running were Hong Hong, Xin Le, Xin Yang and Xin Yuan.

Hong Hong means magnificence, and is meant to signify well wishes for the panda cub to grow up magnificent and healthy.

Xin Le represents new joy - and in this case, also Singapore's joy. The panda cub is a reason for celebrating the many years of collaboration between China and Singapore.

Xin Yang has two parts. The first character Xin refers to Singapore and can also mean new. Yang means the sun, and the panda cub was born in the morning of Aug 14. Together, the name means Singapore sun or new sun, which is meant to symbolise the brightness and joy the birth of the cub has brought.

Xin Yuan has two parts as well, with the first letter again referring to Singapore. The Chinese character Yuan means affinity or fate, but it also sounds like another character which means fulfilment. The name is meant to signify how the cub was born after fate brought its parents Kai Kai and Jia Jia together in Singapore.

2. When was he born?

Le Le, the firstborn to giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia, arrived at about 7.50am on Aug 14. He weighed about 200g.

The successful birth comes after the giant pandas' seventh breeding season. They began mating in 2015, after arriving on a decade-long loan from Chengdu, China, in September 2012.

Giant pandas are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity, in part due to the narrow window for conception. Females like Jia Jia ovulate only once a year, and her fertility also peaks for just 24 to 36 hours.

Kai Kai and Jia Jia, now aged 14 and 13, displayed signs of being in heat in April this year. However, the natural mating process did not succeed.

Artificial insemination with Kai Kai's frozen sperm was then done before the end of Jia Jia's receptive period. Ultrasound scans done in July showed a thickening of Jia Jia's cervix and some fluid in the uterine horns.

On Aug 10, a clear outline of a foetus with a strong heartbeat was seen during an ultrasound scan. The gestation period ranges from three to more than five months.

On Aug 14, Le Le was born.

3. Key milestones

April 22: Jia Jia's estrogen levels peak.

April 24: Artificial insemination is done, using all five straws of frozen semen that were taken in 2020.

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May 20: An ultrasound scan is done on Jia Jia.

July 2: An ultrasound scan is done. Jia Jia's intestines are found to be fluid-filled but no free fluid is detected.

July 21: Weekly ultrasound sessions start. The thickening of the cervix wall and fluid in uterine horns are observed in Jia Jia.

August: Ultrasound scans are done twice a week.

Aug 10: The cub's heartbeat is detected through an ultrasound scan.

Aug 12: Pregnancy is confirmed.

Aug 14: The giant panda cub is born at 7.50am with an estimated weight of 200g.

The panda cub was born on Aug 14 at 7.50am.

Aug 23: On day 10, the cub has an estimated weight of 380g.

Sept 3: Jia Jia turns 13 years old.

Sept 10: On day 28, the cub's gender - a boy - is revealed.

Sept 12: The cub is now 30 days old.

Sept 14: Kai Kai turns 14 years old.

Sept 15: On day 33, the cub weighs 1.504kg.

<p>Day 33: Sept 15 2021: The first weigh-in: The panda cub care team weighs the little one for the first time. At birth, he is an estimated 200g. Within a span of a month and three days, he gains 1.304kg - a whopping sixfold increase.</p>
The panda cub care team weighs Le Le for the first time on Sept 15, 2021. PHOTO: MANDAI WILDLIFE GROUP

Sept 22: The cub's eyes open for the first time on day 40.

Sept 23: Keepers notice the growth of four teeth.

Oct 4: Six incisor teeth are spotted on the lower gum line of the cub.

<p>Day 52, Oct 4 2021: Six incisor teeth are spotted on the lower gum line of the panda cub. Giant pandas have two sets of teeth in their lifetime.</p>
Six incisor teeth are spotted on the lower gum line on Oct 4, 2021. PHOTO: MANDAI WILDLIFE GROUP

Oct 19: More teeth sprout on the upper gum line.

Nov 10: The cub's first crawl is caught on camera on day 89.

Nov 21: The cub turns 100 days old and weighs 6.36kg.

Dec 12: The cub now weighs 8.37kg.


Dec 29: The cub’s name is revealed to be Le Le. He now weighs 9.62kg.

Dec 30: Le Le will meet fans at his new nursery in River Wonders.

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