Hong Kong expects mainland to gift another pair of giant pandas before Oct.1
Published: Mar 28, 2024 08:00 PM
The giant panda Le Le eats breakfast in Ocean Park Hong Kong on April 19, 2023. Photo: Xinhua

The giant panda Le Le eats breakfast in Ocean Park Hong Kong on April 19, 2023. Photo: Xinhua

After delegates of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) to this year's two sessions put forward proposals hoping that the Chinese mainland would once again gift giant pandas to Hong Kong, Vice Chair of the DAB Chan Yung said that there is a chance that "this could happen" before October 1.

Chan, who is also a Hong Kong deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC), told the Global Times on Thursday that it's crucial to ensure the well-being of the giant pandas upon their arrival, saying that they should not be neglected and allowed to become emaciated like those in the US. He believes that all residents in Hong Kong will cherish the pandas as treasures, and that their presence will significantly increase the number of tourists. 

Among a series of proposals made by the DAB delegates to the two sessions in mid-February ahead of the annual political event, there is hope for Southwest China's Sichuan Province to once again gift giant pandas to Hong Kong. 

As the first generation of giant pandas living in Hong Kong, An An and Jia Jia, have passed away, leaving only Ying Ying and Le Le, who arrived in 2007, Ocean Park Hong Kong is ready to welcome new giant pandas at any time, Chan said. 

"Gifting pandas to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) during the 75th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China would be of profound significance. It could also attract tourists to visit Hong Kong," the official said. 

Chan also suggested that the pandas could be named Zhi Zhi and Xing Xing, reflecting a transition that the city has been experiencing from well-governed to prosperity.

Ocean Park recently hosted the 2023 Sichuan Nature Conservation Week in November, 2023, introduced a group of red pandas and also extended the stay of the current three red pandas for another 20 years, according to the park's website. 

"Giant pandas are top-tier ambassadors of goodwill, and Hong Kong is greatly looking forward to their arrival. It also represents a pivotal moment for connecting internationally and sharing China's story," Chan said. 

When the new pair of giant pandas arrives, they will be well taken care of in the Panda pavilion at Ocean Park, Chan told the Global Times. "We won't let them become emaciated like those in the US."

"My favorite is the top celebrity, Hua Hua, and I believe the mainland has a lot of experience in protecting giant pandas and can enhance exchanges with Hong Kong," said Nixie Lam Lam, a panda lover in Hong Kong. 

Especially since Hong Kong is also an international city, strengthening the promotion of panda conservation can make the cause of panda protection more international, Lam, who is also a local lawmaker, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

"I hope more young people from Hong Kong can join volunteer activities aimed at protecting pandas, especially considering the success of the mainland's promotional efforts for pandas. In fact, some young people from Hong Kong have previously had the opportunity to intern at the Sichuan panda base in the mainland," Lam said. 

The two giant pandas currently residing in Hong Kong, Le Le and Ying Ying, have been in the city for over 16 years. Ocean Park celebrated their 18th birthday (equivalent to 54 human years) last August with a special surprise of two giant ice cakes, according to local media reports. 

The cakes were made with their favorite ingredients such as bamboo, purple sweet potatoes, carrots, and pear juice. They featured a summer-themed peach pink orange color as the main hue, topped with forest green "18-year-old" ice pops.