SINGAPORE, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) -- A giant panda couple arrived in Singapore on Thursday on a ten-year loan to the excitement of cheering crowds at the airport and, later, at the Singapore Zoo.
Kai Kai and Jia Jia, known as Wu Jie and Hu Bao respectively in China, arrived in the city state on board a chartered plane. They left their home at the Bifengxia Panda Base in Ya'an, a city in China's southwestern province of Sichuan, on Wednesday afternoon.
They took off from the Shuangliu Airport in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, at 3:50 a.m. on Thursday. Wildlife Reserves Singapore said the trip was scheduled such that the pandas can avoid the heat and humidity of tropical Singapore.
The panda couple were put in a custom-made crates with ample ventilation and space to move about. The cabin temperature was kept between 18 to 22 degrees Celsius, consistent to their native habitat in Sichuan.
The giant pandas are believed to be the rarest member of the bear family and among the world's most threatened animals. It is estimated that there are less than 1,600 giant pandas left in the wild, most in Sichuan province.
A team of five veterinarians and zoo keepers were on board the Boeing 747 cargo freighter to regularly check on the pandas, who were traveling away from home for the first time in their life.
The keepers also brought fruits, water and about 90 kg of bamboo on board for the pandas' meals. Wildlife Reserves Singapore also brought along bamboo from a city in China, in case the pandas need time to adjust to the taste of locally-grown bamboo.
Kai Kai and Jia Jia arrived at the River Safari, their new home for the next ten years, in the morning, to the warm welcome of a cheering crowd outside the entrance of the Singapore Zoo.
"I like the pandas because they are big, and they are the favorite animal to China. And they are black and white, and I like black and white," said a little girl in the crowd.