River Safari helping Mandai become "nature cluster"
By Vimita Mohandas, Channel NewsAsia, 28 Nov 2012
The River Safari, where panda couple Kai Kai and Jia Jia will make their public debut on Thursday, marks an important step for the development of Mandai as a "nature cluster", as Singapore continues to rejuvenate its tourism offerings, says Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade and Industry S Iswaran.
Speaking at the grand opening of the Giant Panda Forest on Wednesday, the first of the River Safari attractions to open to the public, Mr Iswaran said visitor arrivals to Singapore grew a "robust" 11 per cent year-on-year in the first half of this year.
"The River Safari joins Singapore's stable of award-winning attractions that have impressed many visitors, many of whom do not expect such a rich and diverse array of nature-based attractions in a small, highly urbanised city like Singapore," he said.
Mr Iswaran noted that Mandai's rich biodiversity makes it an ideal location for a nature cluster, with potential for accommodation, dining and other leisure facilities.
"As the developments in this area continue, I am confident that the Mandai Nature Cluster will continue to build on its own unique identity as a top nature-based destination, with quality attractions and lifestyle activities," he said.
Those present on Wednesday included China's Ambassador to Singapore, Mr Wei Wei, and representatives from the State Forestry Administration of China, China Wildlife Conservation Association, presenting sponsor and conservation donor CapitaLand, and airline sponsor Singapore Airlines.
Members of the public will be able to meet Kai Kai and Jia Jia from Thursday, with a Giant Panda Preview add-on ticket when they visit the Singapore Zoo. Visitors will get to see many creature comforts around the enclosure, including a man-made waterfall, dipping pools and bamboo gardens that simulate the pandas' natural habitat.
Next month, they will get to learn about the importance of conservation through a special exhibition at the Singapore Zoo featuring the life of giant pandas in China.
The grand opening of the River Safari is slated for next year.