SINGAPORE - Say hello to baby Le Le — the first panda cub born in the Republic.
The name of the male cub, which comes from an old Chinese term "shi le po", which refers to Singapore, was jointly announced on Wednesday (Dec 29) by Singapore and China.
Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat and Chinese Vice-Premier Han Zheng revealed the name at a virtual ceremony.
Both ministers are co-chairs of the 17th Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation and related Joint Steering Council meetings, held virtually on Wednesday.
Le Le was born to giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia on Aug 14 — their firstborn since they arrived in Singapore in 2012 on loan from Chengdu, China, as sub-adults.
Coming in at an estimated 200g at birth, it weighed a little over six kg on Nov 17.
The cub, a fan favourite since his adorable pictures made the rounds on social media, will join his mother Jia Jia in her public exhibit at River Wonders early next year.
River Wonders was formerly known as River Safari.
Earlier this year, names for the cub were submitted by members of the public, and reviewed by a judging panel made up of academics and representatives from the Chinese Embassy in Singapore, relevant government agencies and the Mandai Wildlife Group.
More than 64,000 votes were cast for a shortlisted five names between Nov 3 and 7.
The other names that had been in the running were Hong Hong, Xin Le, Xin Yang and Xin Yuan.
Fourteen-year-old Kai Kai and 13-year-old Jia Jia had displayed signs of being in heat in April this year, but natural mating was unsuccessful.
Artificial insemination with Kai Kai's frozen sperm was done before the end of Jia Jia's receptive period, to make the most of the once-a-year breeding season.
When Le Le turns two, it will have to return to China under the terms of the original panda loan agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association.
The successful birth comes after the giant pandas' seventh breeding season. They began mating in 2015.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.