SM Teo Chee Hean visits Le Le in Sichuan , Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

SM Teo Chee Hean visits Le Le in Sichuan

DUJIANGYAN – 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.

Mr Teo was at the panda base for an hour, during which Le Le could be seen feasting on bamboo leaves and rolling around on a platform.

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

Le Le shares an enclosure with Qing Zai and his twin sister Qing Bao, who were born in Sichuan. They are a month younger than Le Le, who is turning three in August.

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 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 also gets along very well with the twins and often play together like children.

It is good for panda cubs to socialise with others at this age, and it is 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 the age of 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.

Netizens call him a “she niu” – Chinese slang for someone who is very good in social situations – and uploaded many 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, one of four bases 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.

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