Malaysia to bid farewell to panda cub Yi Yi soon

PETALING JAYA • Malaysians will soon have to bid zai jian (farewell) to the second giant panda cub born in the country.

Yi Yi’s return to China is pending confirmation from the Chinese authorities.

Dr Mat Naim Ramli, director of the Zoology, Veterinary Hospital and Giant Panda Conservation Centre, said that during its last discussion with the Chinese authorities, the Malaysian side was told to wait until November or December to finalise the date for Yi Yi’s return.

“Once the date has been confirmed, the government will make the announcement,” he said when contacted on Sunday.

Dr Mat Naim added that due to Covid-19 concerns, the preliminary discussions had centred on sending Yi Yi to China without a travel companion.

“We also suggested that Yi Yi be accompanied on the flight there and, upon landing in China, she would be received by the Chinese authorities. This way, the companions need not disembark from the aircraft and they can return to Malaysia straight away.”

He added, however, that this would depend on whether the cargo-handling company would allow such a procedure.

“The procedure will not be finalised until there is confirmation from the Chinese authorities on the date for Yi Yi’s return,” he said.

Born in January 2018, Yi Yi, whose name means friendship, currently weighs 88kg.

Bamboo and fruit are the favourite treats of the female cub, the second offspring of Xing Xing and Liang Liang.

The panda couple, who are on a 10-year loan from China, arrived in Malaysia in 2014 to mark 40 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Their first cub, Nuan Nuan, was returned to China in November 2017 after she turned two.

Dr Mat Naim had accompanied Nuan Nuan on her trip back home.

The cub was then sent to the Dujiangyan Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Sichuan province.

Under the Malaysia-China Giant Panda International Conservation Agreement, any panda cub born in Malaysia is to be returned to China at the age of two.


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