Another 2 Chinese panda experts arrive in US to take care of Ya Ya, negotiate over her return
Published: Mar 17, 2023 03:34 PM
Giant panda Ya Ya is at the the Memphis Zoo in the US on February 14. Photo: IC

Giant panda Ya Ya is at the the Memphis Zoo in the US on February 14. Photo: IC

The situation of female giant panda Ya Ya in the Memphis Zoo continues to tug at the heartstrings of Chinese netizens. According to the latest announcement from the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens, two experts from Beijing Zoo, where Ya Ya was born, arrived in the US on Thursday local time to take care of her.   

The two experts are veterinarians and specialists in panda breeding. They had rich experience in dealing with, raising and treating giant pandas in captivity, the association said in its announcement.

They will work together with Chinese experts  already at Memphis Zoo to learn about the habits and situation of Ya Ya and work together with US partners, the association said.

The experts will also help enhance preparation for the return of Ya Ya to guarantee the safety of her returning journey, according to the announcement. 

The association noted that the US Fish and Wildlife Service had published materials related to the return of Ya Ya and the remains of Le Le to the public on March 13.  

Chinese netizens had been calling for earlier return of Ya Ya before her contract ends on April 7 due to growing concerns over her health.

Staff at the Beijing Zoos management authority told media on Friday that they hoped that the experts could take Ya Ya back home with them at the end of their stay. But it is dependent on negotiation with the Memphis Zoo.  

They said the Beijing Zoo is constructing a habitat for Ya Ya after she returns home and that the habitat is scheduled to be completed at the end of March.

After the contract ends, Ya Ya, together with Le Le's remains, will be sent to Shanghai where Ya Ya will spend one month in quarantine, according to staff.

Ya Ya, a female panda, was born in the Beijing Zoo in August 2000. In April 2003, as part of a cooperation program on the protection and research of giant pandas between China and the US, Ya Ya and Le Le, a male panda from the Shanghai Zoo, flew to Memphis. Since the beginning of 2021, there have been continuous reports about poor health and conditions of Ya Ya and Le Le, with heart-wrenching photos surfacing online.

The Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens had sent experts to the US zoo to conduct investigation in Le Le's death and Ya Ya's health condition in February. 

Preliminary autopsy results suggest that heart disease was the cause of Le Le's death, the association announced on its website. It noted that the expert team reviewed Ya Ya's health condition, in addition to her physical examination report and monthly health report. According to the evaluation, except for the hair loss caused by skin disease, Ya Ya has a good appetite, normal feces and a stable weight.

But pictures and videos of a gaunt looking Ya Ya continue to exert a strong impact on the Chinese public.

Public concerns over Ya Ya in the US have grown into a spontaneous "campaign" among Chinese people all around the world to monitor how pandas are being taken care of in overseas zoos.

Chinese netizens around the world recently volunteered to visit nearby zoos that host pandas and posted on Chinese social media platforms videos that showed each panda's living conditions. 

Global Times