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Singapore bids farewell to China-bound panda cub

SINGAPORE (AFP) – Singaporeans bid farewell to a two-year-old panda cub yesterday as authorities prepared to send him to China where he will join the country’s breeding programme.

Le Le, the first panda to be born in the city-state, made his final public appearance at the River Wonders wildlife park before a month-long quarantine ahead of his departure.

Dozens of visitors lined up to see Le Le amble around his enclosure, eating bamboo and carrot sticks that keepers had hidden under paper planes and inside cardboard suitcases.

Among them was Lucilla Teoh, a self-described “panda-holic”, who wore a t-shirt and hat decorated with panda motifs and sparkly panda earrings for the special occasion.

The 61-year-old told AFP she considers herself Le Le’s “grand-aunty” as she had watched him grow from a tiny baby into a 73-kilogramme cub.

“Obviously it’s bittersweet, I wish he could stay longer,” Teoh said.

“But I also feel he has a part to play in panda conservation, that it is important for him to go back to China, grow up a bit, and then hopefully he gets to be a panda ambassador and come out like his parents.”

Lydia Robangsa, who brought her nine-year-old daughter Dahlia to see Le Le for the last time, said they felt “a bit sad” to say goodbye to the panda.

Giant Panda Le Le enjoys food at its second birthday party in Singapore. PHOTO: XINHUA