Things to Do with your Kids

River Safari celebrates one year of ‘panda’-monium

By Zaki JufriEvents - 06 September 2013 4:40 PM | Updated 10:53 AM

River Safari celebrates one year of ‘panda’-monium

Kai Kai enjoying his "cake". Photo: Shirly Hamra

Like an eager birthday “boy”, Kai Kai rushed forward to its birthday cake when it was released into its forest enclosure.

The specially made three-tiered cake made from two species of bamboo, apples, carrots and ice – all favourite treats of Kai Kai – was created by a team of five “panda party planners” and zookeepers.

All the fuss on Friday morning at the Panda Forest enclosure in the River Safari was to commemorate the first anniversary of the two pandas’ arrival from China to Singapore as well as to celebrate their birthdays. 

Female panda Jia Jia turned five on 3 September, while Kai Kai, the male panda, turns six on 14 September.

Jia Jia received a chime toy made of bamboo, and it played with the gift initially before munching on the stems. 

To celebrate the milestones, River Safari, located in Mandai next to the zoo, has lined up several activities from 7 to 15 September.


There will be helpers around to provide face painting for those who want to look like a panda, or visitors can opt to be given a free guided tour of the enclosure.

They will get a free slice of birthday cake with every set meal from Mama Panda Kitchen. And the restaurant will be whipping out panda-themed bites including chocolate custard buns, cookies and cupcakes.

Kai Kai went straight for his cake once he was released into his enclosure. Photo: Shirly Hamra.

One of the party planners, Steven Goh, 30, an educator and a fan of pandas, was happy that Kai Kai liked the cake that he and his team created. “We knew that Kai Kai’s hobby is eating, so we stuffed his cake with everything that he liked to eat,” Goh said.

Goh and the team were chosen from a contest which called for members of the public to share why they should be chosen as a panda party planner.


Jia JiaJia JiaAfter a year here, the pandas have adapted well in their new homes and the zookeepers have noted that their furry wards have certain distinctive traits.

For example, the cheeky Kai Kai will climb a tree every day at 5pm to look out for its keepers, while Jia Jia, despite being shy and tends to keep to itself in its den, has a playful side as well.

Also see: Panda Party gallery

Recently the female panda was seen out in its enclosure, tumbling down slopes and knocking down trees.

Claire Chiang, chairman of Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said: “Kai Kai and Jia Jia have adjusted well in the last few months, and I am glad to report that the pandas are getting more and more comfortable in Singapore.”

Since the opening of the panda enclosure last November, more than 60,000 people have visited the bears, which are on loan from China for 10 years for research purposes.

River Safari, which opened its doors in April, has also added more improvements to the panda enclosure such as extra branches for climbing, raised wooden platforms and caves.

Ang Cheng Chye, River Safari’s assistant director of zoology, said: “The pandas already know their enclosure inside out by now and we’re adding these new additions to make it more interesting. Nature is not static, it is always changing, and we want the pandas to experience what they see and feel in the wild as much as possible.”

Panda Party | Date: 7-15 September 2013 | Time: 9am-6pm | Venue: Giant Panda Forest, River Safari, 80 Mandai Lake Road | Tel: 62693411 | Tickets: $25 (adult), $16 (child) 

Read previous reports:

Panda facts you need to know

Jia Jia documents her journey from China to Singapore

My name is Kai Kai and it's my birthday

Trademarks to prevent others from cashing in on pandas