Why Now Is The Best Time To Visit Kai Kai And Jia Jia

Witness adorable behaviour by Singapore’s giant pandas during the approaching panda mating season

By Pamela Chow

A lovelorn Kai Kai part 2_WRS

A “lovelorn” Kai Kai – can we get an “awww”? (Photo: Wildlife Reserves Singapore)

If you thought that Kai Kai and Jia Jia were cute and cuddly, you’re about to witness their more ‘romantic’ sides.

Giant panda mating season typically lasts from February to May. According to Wildlife Reserves Singapore, Kai Kai and Jia Jia have shown signs of courtship as early as January this year.

In the coming weeks, visitors can expect to see male panda Kai Kai bleating and scent-marking more frequently. He may also display the “flehmen response”, where he curls back his upper lip to sniff for pheromones and assess the breeding readiness of its mate.

Meanwhile, female panda Jia Jia will display restless behaviour and similar bleating to attract the attention of her mate.

A lovelorn Kai Kai_WRS

Visitors can expect to see Kai Kai bleating and displaying the “flehmen response”, where he curls back his upper lip to sniff for pheromones. (Photo: Wildlife Reserves Singapore)

This will be the pair’s second shot at making a baby panda. Last April, nine-year-old Kai Kai and eight-year-old Jia Jia entered mating season for the first time, but both tries at natural mating and artificial insemination were unsuccessful.

For the coming mating season, vets and keepers have fine-tuned and employed techniques proven to be successful before in other zoos.

For example, Kai Kai has been dutifully “sexercising” for months. Panda keepers get Kai Kai to stand up on his hind legs for a few seconds at a time to strengthen his hind quarters.

This exercise also serves to boost his stamina, which would help to improve success rates during mating.

Kai Kai and Jia Jia also swapped exhibits and dens in January and February. Smelling the scent of another gender stimulates their mating instincts, encouraging hormonal changes.

Guests looking at Kai Kai the giant panda at River Safari_WRS

Visit the giant pandas before they are taken from their enclosures for some private mating time. (Photo: Wildlife Reserves Singapore)

Currently, vets and keepers are carefully observing the behaviour of the two pandas, as well as monitoring Jia Jia’s hormonal levels. Once the two are deemed ready, they will be taken out of their exhibits for three days for some private time – natural mating – in the dens.

During this mating season of three days, guests to River Safari will not be able to see Kai Kai and Jia Jia in the Giant Panda Forest.

In case natural mating is unsuccessful, vets are also prepared for the artificial insemination route.

Bonus: Visit four parks for the price of two from Apr 1, with revised prices of up to 50 per cent in savings.

The ParkHopper bundled admission tickets will allow guests to visit multiple wildlife parks within seven days; the four-park excursion will now cost $69 and the two-park package will cost $59 (including Night Safari) or $49.

Online purchases will receive a further 10 per cent discount on either bundled admission package.

Single-entry tickets to the four parks will also be adjusted. There will be a 25 per cent discount for online purchases and a 15 per cent discount for onsite purchases across all four parks.

For more information, visit www.wrs.com.sg.

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