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"Play" with panda poo at the River Safari

Prepare a meal for a river giant, or get your hands dirty dissecting panda poo -- these are just some activities offered in two behind-the-scenes tours at the River Safari.

SINGAPORE: Kai Kai and Jia Jia are the River Safari's most famous residents -- what better way to get to know these gentle giants better than by getting up close with their poo?

By poking through a panda's poo, visitors will be able to find out what the panda ate and learn how pandas digest their food.

Sifting through poo is part of the park's latest tour -- "Be a Panda Researcher". The activity-based tour also lets visitors learn how researchers track pandas in the wild by looking at their poo, paw prints, and other markings.

A second tour, "Fishy Business", takes visitors behind-the-scenes of the Amazon Flooded Forest exhibit.

They will get to see what goes into keeping the water tanks healthy for the animals, and lend a hand in preparing meals of fish, shrimp, and vegetables for animals such as the manatees and the arapaimas.

More than 20 students from the Canadian International School joined Wednesday's preview.

Zoe Claire Mitchell, a student from the Canadian International School, said: "We've learned to feed fish and what they eat and how they prepare their food to keep them healthy."

Lok May Kuen, director of education at the Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said: "We thought that this would be a perfect opportunity for us to showcase what our keepers do to take care of the animals, especially in this case, the aquatic animals.

"They are so close to the environment -- that is the water -- and they are very sensitive to it. So if there are any changes to their environment, they will react. It takes a lot to look after them."

It is also hoped that the hands-on learning experience will get people excited about conservation.

The 90-minute daily tours each cost S$39 for adults and S$29 for children, which includes admission into the park.

The two tours are launched in commemoration of 50 years of tourism development and promotions in Singapore. The tours are recommended for children aged nine and above, and reservations can be made online.

"Be a Panda Researcher" can accommodate a maximum of 60 people, while "Fishy Business" can take a maximum of 30 people.

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