Singapore-born panda cub Le Le gets a visit in Sichuan from SM Teo Chee Hean


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Singapore-born panda cub Le Le climbs trees. Photo

DUJIANGYAN/HANGZHOU – Singapore-born giant panda cub Le Le had a special visitor at his new home in Dujiangyan Panda Base in south-west China’s Sichuan province.

Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean visited Le Le on March 19, while on a six-day official trip to China that started on March 17.

“A visit to Sichuan would not be complete without seeing Le Le!” he said in a Facebook post.

While Mr Teo was at the panda base, Le Le could be seen feasting on bamboo leaves, rolling around on a platform, and playing with his new friends.

He shares an enclosure with Sichuan-born panda cub Qing Zai and his twin sister Qing Bao. They are a month younger than Le Le, who will turn three in August.

Le Le made his first public appearance in China earlier in March, after having arrived from Singapore on board a specially arranged SIA flight in January.

He was a labour of love for both Singapore and China, said Mr Zhang Guiquan, head of the panda base, during Mr Teo’s visit.

The cub is doing well and has a hearty appetite, he added.

Le Le weighs an auspicious 88kg, up from the 70kg reported by the Chinese media when he first arrived in China in January. He should have no problem growing to about 130kg, said Mr Zhang.

The cub’s daily diet consists of many kilos of bamboo, 200g of apples, 1kg of carrots and 800g of wowotou, a cake-like feed made of corn, rice and soybeans.

Mr Zhang said Le Le is the biggest panda in his enclosure and has “the roundest face”. He gets along very well with the twins, and they often play together like children.

It is good for panda cubs to socialise with others at this age, just like going to kindergarten, said Mr Zhang.

This will make them friendlier, which will be helpful for breeding when they grow up, he added.

Male pandas can participate in breeding activities once they turn six, while females begin at age five. This means that Le Le can start breeding in just over three years.

“His health is so good, he’ll definitely make a good father in future!” exclaimed a staff member at the base.

The friendly cub has earned himself an online following in China. The hashtag “giant panda Le Le” has been viewed over 7.246 million times on Chinese social media platform Weibo.

In the video embedded above, Le Le can be seen reclining in the centre chomping on bamboo, with Qing Zai on the left and Qing Bao behind.

Netizens call him a “she niu” – Chinese slang for someone who is very good in social situations – and have uploaded videos of him playing with Qing Zai.

Le Le’s fans from Singapore have visited him at the panda base, as have other Singapore tourists, Mr Zhang noted.

The Dujiangyan Panda Base, managed by the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda, is currently home to about 45 pandas, who are cared for by 30 handlers.

About 10 of these pandas are “overseas returnees (hai gui)” like Le Le, from places such as the United States, Malaysia, Thailand and Austria, said Mr Zhang.

After an hour at the panda base, Mr Teo departed Sichuan for the eastern coastal province of Zhejiang.

There, he visited the operations command centre of the Hangzhou City Brain, a smart city platform aimed at using technologies – including big data, cloud computing, blockchain and artificial intelligence – to improve urban management in the city.

He was briefed on the platform and its applications in areas such as urban transport, pandemic management, public safety and social governance. – The Straits Times