Hong Kong expects to welcome new pair of pandas within two to three months
Published: Jul 07, 2024 10:40 PM
A giant panda walks in Ocean Park Hong Kong on April 13, 2024. Photo: VCG

A giant panda walks in Ocean Park Hong Kong on April 13, 2024. Photo: VCG

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) Chief Executive John Lee departed on Sunday for Southwest China's Sichuan Province to work on arrangements for a pair of giant pandas that the central government has decided to gift to the SAR. A Hong Kong official said that arrangements can be made for the giant pandas to arrive in the city within two to three months.

Lee and several Hong Kong officials will visit the Dujiangyan Base of the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda, and will be briefed on preparatory work for receiving the two new members of the Hong Kong family, according to the HKSAR government. 

Lee announced on the occasion of the 27th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland on July 1 that the city will welcome the new pair of pandas. 

There has always been a desire for Hong Kong to see giant pandas born in the city, and officials will convey this wish to the mainland authorities, believing that the central government will select the most suitable pair for Hong Kong, Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism Kevin Yeung was quoted as saying in local media reports on Saturday. 

The pair of giant pandas will reside in Ocean Park Hong Kong, with the park planning to modify facilities according to the habits of the soon-to-arrive pandas. As for whether the public will be involved in naming the pair, Yeung said that the issue will be decided after more details are finalized. 

The quarantine process for the arrival of the panda pairs will also take about one month. Whether the pandas can come to Hong Kong after completing quarantine will depend on their condition, including their mental and physical health, Yeung noted. "Only then can the timing of their arrival be determined. We hope to accomplish this within two to three months."

As soon as the good news about the pending arrival of giant pandas to Hong Kong was announced, some netizens immediately began discussing choosing names for the pair. Suggestions include "Guo Guo and An An," referring to national security, "Bin Bin and Fen Fen," referring to splendid and "Zhi Zhi and Xing Xing," referring to prosperity. 

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

The giant pandas An An and Jia Jia already had their names decided before their arrival in Hong Kong, while Ying Ying and Le Le were named by Hong Kong residents through a voting process after their arrival, according to media reports. 

At that time, the Home Affairs Department of the HKSAR organized the "Giant Panda Naming Activity," where each participant suggested a pair of names for the male giant panda 606 and the female giant panda 610. After eliminating duplicate names, a total of 6,700 pairs of names were collected that year.

Chan Yung, vice chair of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong who put forward some proposals during this year's annual national two sessions in March including the hope that Sichuan will once again send giant pandas to Hong Kong, said that the HKSAR delegation will discuss and finalize the details of the two pandas' arrival in Hong Kong during their visit to Sichuan.

They will also advance and implement the arrangements for their settling in Hong Kong, and there should also be further consultations to jointly develop the "panda economy" and promote the cultural and tourism integration of the Greater Bay Area, Chan said.

Their arrival in Hong Kong can boost the city's economy and further development, which can also attract panda lovers from around the world to the HKSAR, Chan noted. 

"If the pair can arrive around the National Day holidays, it would bring even greater joy," he noted.