Two giant panda cubs set off for their new home in Madrid
Bond between China and Spain maintained for over 40 years
Published: Apr 29, 2024 05:34 PM
The giant pandas

The giant pandas "Jin Xi" and "Zhu Yu" on Monday took off from Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport, bound for Madrid Zoo in Spain to begin a 10-year stay. Photo: CCTV

 The giant pandas "Jin Xi" and "Zhu Yu" on Monday took off from Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport, bound for Madrid Zoo in Spain to begin a 10-year stay. 

Chinese netizens and panda fans have expressed their hope that the two pandas will be well taken care of in Spain. "While abroad, please let the Spanish fans take over the guardianship and take good care of you two babies!" one netizen wrote.

"As the 20th generation of pandas, you two can fly the highest and farthest, opening a new chapter in your panda lives. Stay safe and healthy in a foreign land, and may you spend these long 10 years happily and joyfully!" said another.

"Jin Xi," a male panda, was born on September 1, 2020. "Zhu Yu," a female giant panda, was born on October 25, 2020.

According to Chinese flight tracking platform Feichangzhun, the China Airlines CA3103 cargo plane is responsible for transporting the pandas. The flight took off at 11:24 am on Monday Beijing time, with an estimated flight time of 13 hours and 53 minutes, arriving at Madrid Barajas Airport at 7:20 pm, local time. This is the first pair of pandas to travel to Europe for residency since the second half of 2019. 

To ensure the smooth arrival of the two pandas in Spain, both China and Spain have made thorough preparations. The Chinese panda base has isolated and quarantined the two pandas ahead of travel, ensuring dedicated care and regular check-ups. 

To ensure comfort and safety during the transportation, the panda base has customized special air transport cages to allow the pandas to move, eat, and rest freely inside the cage. Additionally, the panda base has prepared an ample supply of fresh and high-quality local bamboo and bamboo shoots from Southwest China's Sichuan Province, and arranged for a veterinarian and three specialists to accompany the pandas on the flight to take care of "Jin Xi" and "Zhu Yu's" health and diet. 

After arriving at Madrid Zoo, Chinese experts will stay for about three months to accompany the pandas through the quarantine period, complete stress adaptation and behavioral training, and help them quickly adapt to their new living environment. 

They will also provide technical guidance and operational training on how to take care of pandas to the zookeepers and veterinarians at Madrid Zoo. 

The Madrid Zoo told the Global Times that they will send a press release and videos once the cubs arrive.

Following suggestions of the Chinese expert team, Madrid Zoo has upgraded the panda pavilion in advance, including renovating the cub nursery to meet the needs of panda cub care, and optimized the facility design to cater to the pandas' climbing habits by adding climbing frames, logs, and other play facilities. Those upgraded facilities will be put into use after passing an inspection by the Chinese team.

Spain has achieved the most fruitful results in the cooperative breeding of giant pandas in Europe. Six giant pandas have successfully been given birth in Spain since the cooperation between China and Spain started. The "panda bond" between China and Spain has been maintained for over 40 years.

According to the Madrid Zoo, after arriving in Madrid, the two giant pandas will undergo a one-month quarantine isolation period, and they may meet the public as early as the end of May local time.