Two giant pandas to be taken to Berlin zoo for 15-year research mission

23 June 2017, 11:22 PM
Two giant pandas to be taken to Berlin zoo for 15-year research mission
Two giant pandas to be taken to Berlin zoo for 15-year research mission

For a 15-year research mission, two giant pandas in China will be taken to Berlin zoo from southwestern Sichuan province.

Meng Meng and Jiao Qing will be accompanied on Saturday by two Chinese keepers, Berlin Zoo's senior vet, 1,000 kilograms of bamboo and large number of biscuits.

Meng Meng, a four-year-old female panda, loves being on camera and sleeping, while Jiao Qing is a seven-year-old male panda, who is very active and loves physical activity, state- run Xinhua news agency reported.

They both were born at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. Berlin zoo has been preparing for their arrival since October.

"We have built new enclosures in an area of 5,500 square meters, neighbouring the oldest enclosures, built for antelopes and giraffes in 1871," said Andreas Ochs, a senior veterinarian at the zoo.

Berlin weather is more agreeable than in Chengdu, so the pandas can stay outside for the whole year, Ochs said.

The zoo has planned a 1,000 square-meter outside enclosure for each panda and a 250 square-meter inside area, as well as room for treatment, storing bamboo and quarantine.

To better host the pandas, the zoo has sent a team to China to learn specific skills to care for them.

"We have learned to design enclosures for keeping the bears and how to go into the cage and remove the baby bear for nursing and to return it to the mother again once the couple give birth," Ochs said.

China has gifted three pandas to Germany since the early 1980s. Bao Bao and Tian Tian were the first panda couple in Berlin Zoo, though Tian Tian died in 1982.

Bao Bao remained alone until Yan Yan was loaned to the zoo in 1995 to breed. However, breeding attempts were unsuccessful despite trying artificial insemination seven times.

Thirty-four-year-old Bao Bao died in Berlin in 2012, as the oldest male panda in the world.

"Jiao Qing is grown-up now and Meng Meng will be ready to mate in two years. We expect to see their baby born in Berlin," said Yin Hong, Meng Meng's keeper in Chengdu.

"They are envoys for China-Germany friendship. All the people in Berlin are looking forward to seeing this pair of pandas soon," Ochs said. 

First Published: Friday, June 23, 2017 09:38 PM
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