Giant pandas to leave for Malaysia tonight

A pair of giant pandas will leave for Malaysia tonight on a 10-year loan and will be introduced to the public at the Giant Panda Complex at the National Zoo. — AFP pic
A pair of giant pandas will leave for Malaysia tonight on a 10-year loan and will be introduced to the public at the Giant Panda Complex at the National Zoo. — AFP pic

CHENGDU, China, May 20 — The long-awaited pair of giant pandas, Fuwa (male) and Fengyi (female) will leave for Malaysia tonight on a 10-year loan to begin a new chapter in their lives.

The send-off ceremony for the eight-year-old, black-and-white “celebrity” pair was held at the Dujiangyan base of China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda in southwest China’s Sichuan province today.

“It is an important event in enhancing the bilateral relationship and friendship between Malaysia and China,” said Malaysia’s Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit.

“For Malaysia, the arrival of the giant pandas is a significant event to celebrate 40 years of close bilateral cooperation between our two countries,” he told Malaysian reporters here before delivering his speech at the farewell ceremony.

Malaysia has established strong diplomatic relations with China since 1974, initiated by the late Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, Malaysia’s second prime minister.

“We should continue the good bilateral relationship and friendship in the next 40 years,” he said, adding that it not only focused on government-to government relationship, but friendship between the people of the two countries.

He said Malaysians would be thrilled with the arrival of the pair of pandas, and they were eagerly waiting to welcome the charming treasure of China.

“They have heard so much about it (news of the arrival), but yet to see it.

“So, now they can see the giant pandas at Zoo Negara (National Zoo) after a one-month quarantine,” he said.

The pandas will be flown from China by MASkargo Sdn Bhd (MASkargo) and are expected to arrive in Malaysia at 6am on Wednesday. They will be introduced to the public at the Giant Panda Complex at the National Zoo.

Dawos said Zoo Negara director, Dr Naim Ramli, who is also a veterinarian, a Chinese veterinarian and 10 technical officers would accompany Fengyi and Fuwa on their journey to Malaysia.

Speaking at the farewell ceremony for the giant panda pair, he assured Malaysia’s commitment to completing all the necessary arrangements and to surpass the standards required for the well-being of Fengyi and Fuwa during their 10-year stay in Malaysia.

“We promise you the two pandas will live happily in Malaysia, just like how they felt in Chengdu,” he told the director of the Wildlife Conservation and Natural Reserve Administration of China National Forestry Bureau, Zhang Xiwu.

Zhang expressed his confidence that the departure of the pandas to Malaysia would not only promote and broaden cooperation in forestry and biodiversity conservation and in the socio-economic and culturel fields, but would also deepen friendship between the two peoples.

On June 15, 2012, Malaysia’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) and China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA) signed a memorandum of understanding for the loan of two giant pandas from China to Malaysia over a 10-year period to mark the 40th anniversary of Malaysia-China diplomatic relations this year.

The arrangement came after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s request to former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during his official visit to Nanning in 2012. — Bernama