In 2023, a total of 15 giant pandas returned to China from overseas after expiry of loan agreements. Among these 15 pandas, four are currently residing at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Southwest China’s Sichuan Province and are in good condition, the Global Times learned during a recent visit.
On February 22, giant panda Yong Ming arrived in Chengdu from Japan with his twin daughters, Ying Bang and Tao Bang. On July 26, giant panda cub Yuan Meng, who was born in France, arrived in Chengdu and also joined the base, a staff member surnamed Liu at the research base told the Global Times.
Among all the returning pandas, Yong Ming is the oldest at 31 years old, which is about 100 years old in human terms. He is also the second oldest captive male giant panda in the world.
After arriving at the base, the pandas undergo quarantine and a period of isolation, said Liu. Once their condition stabilizes, they will be moved to open enclosures to meet the public.
During the visit, the Global Times reporter saw these pandas eating bamboo and enjoying their time at the base. All of them appeared to be in good physical and mental health, which was confirmed by the base’s staff.
At the base, each panda has an outdoor activity area ranging from 500 to 800 square meters in size, which ensures that they have ample space to move around, Liu said. They also each have an “indoor apartment.”
Since the return of the panda cub Xiang Xiang in February, a total of 15 pandas have returned to China in 2023 from countries including the US, France, Japan, the Netherlands, Malaysia, and the UK. In 2024, several more pandas are expected to return to China after their loan agreements expire.
These pandas, who have lived abroad for a long time, have also become favorites among Chinese tourists after returning to China. The Global Times has learned that many make special trips to the breeding base to visit these national treasures.
On the same visit, representatives from Pakistani media and think tanks expressed admiration for China’s panda conservation efforts and shared their expectations for cooperation between China and Pakistan in this field.
“In the past, pandas were a globally endangered species, but China has taken special measures to protect them. Here, all the pandas receive excellent care,” said Faiyan Zia Bangash, a senior reporter from Pakistan’s The News.
“I have always had a special love for pandas, but it wasn’t until today when I saw them with my own eyes that I truly experienced their cuteness,” said Fahd Gauhar Malik, editor of the Pakistan Observer.
“I really hope that in the future, China and Pakistan can also have relevant cooperation so that the people of Pakistan can see pandas in their own zoos,” Malik said.