If you have been to the River Safari lately and felt a celebratory mood lingering in the air, that’s because a huge party was thrown in honour of two adorable furry creatures. A year ago, panda duo, Kai Kai and J ia Jia, arrived in Singapore. Last month, Jia Jia turned five on 3 September and Kai Kai turned six on 14 September.
To celebrate Kai Kai and Jia Jia’s birthdays and their one-year anniversary in Singapore, Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) and CapitaLand Limited (CapitaLand), the Presenting Sponsor and Conservation Donor of the Giant Panda Collaborative Programme, threw a big panda party for them at the River Safari. It was a joyous affair filled with memorable moments such as a specially choreographed dance by ‘mini pandas’ – children dressed as pandas – which got everyone clapping along. A video documenting the giant pandas’ past year was also produced to give everyone a glimpse of their life in Singapore.
“We are pleased to see that Kai Kai and Jia Jia have settled in well in their Singapore home since they arrived a year ago. In the past year, Kai Kai and Jia Jia have brought Singapore much joy with their adorable antics and heightened awareness towards wildlife conservation. As we commemorate Kai Kai and Jia Jia’s first year in Singapore and celebrate their birthdays today, we hope to continue our emphasis on educating younger Singaporeans on caring for the eco-system,” said Mr S R Nathan, Chairman, CapitaLand Hope Foundation, CapitaLand’s philanthropic arm.
Mr Lim Ming Yan, President & Group CEO of CapitaLand Limited, added, “Today’s celebration marks Kai Kai and Jia Jia’s birthdays as well as an important milestone for their 10-year stay in Singapore. We are happy to partner WRS in celebrating this delightful occasion as the Presenting Sponsor and Conservation Donor of the Giant Panda Collaborative Programme.”
Special Treats on a Special Day
Kai Kai and Jia Jia were in for a real treat with birthday presents specially created for them by five Panda Party Planners – lucky winners of the Inside Tweet and Win contest. Birthday boy Kai Kai received a three-tiered birthday cake made of ice, bamboo and his favourite treats, while birthday girl Jia Jia got a chime toy made of bamboo stems.
Party planner, 30-year-old educator Steven Goh helped to place the cake in Kai Kai's enclosure and was delighted with his reaction. “The cake looked nicer and super delicious after the panda keepers added flowers and bamboo leaves to it. I felt hungry just by looking at it!” laughed Goh. “And true enough, Kai Kai went to the cake once he entered the closure and went for the carrots that spelt out 'K K'! I feel very honoured to be part of the Panda Party Planners and am very grateful to CapitaLand for this chance to learn more about the pandas and to get so close to them.”
“While Kai Kai was happily enjoying his cake, there was a moment when he actually looked right at my direction. That totally made my day! I'm extremely satisfied with the birthday cake my team did for Kai Kai,” fellow party planner, Lioe Hui Yi, shared excitedly, too.
Even Jia Jia, the shyer of the two, was unusually adventurous and explored her new toy immediately. “Jia Jia spotted her new toy once she entered her 'playground' and was curious and touched the bamboo toy,” recalled party planner 35-year-old pre-school principal Jean Ong. “Thereafter, she held onto one part of the bamboo toy and started to bite off and munched on it. Everyone was amazed by her strength! It was such an exciting task and the experience of being a panda party planner is absolutely unforgettable.”
A Special Day of Many Firsts
Kai Kai and Jia Jia were not the only ones who enjoyed special treats on that day. Seven children from CapitaLand Hope Foundation’s (CHF) 10-year CapitaKids programme had the chance to join in the fun and even got on stage with the distinguished guests for the cake-cutting ceremony.
For brothers 11-year-old Zaren and 7-year-old Zarius, the day was extra special because they were seeing pandas for the first time. “I am so happy to be able to celebrate the pandas’ birthday and to sing a birthday song for Kai Kai and Jia Jia. Kai Kai and Jia Jia are so cute!” said Zarius. Zaren chipped in, “This is my first time in River Safari, and I’m so excited. My birthday wish is to for the pandas to stay happily in Singapore. I’m so happy to have met them today.”
A year on, Kai Kai and Jia Jia have brought much joy to almost 600,000 visitors, and counting. The panda party may have ended, but we continue to celebrate the impact their presence means for wildlife conservation.
Happy birthday, Kai Kai and Jia Jia!