Macau’s new pair of giant pandas arrived at the airport on a special Air China flight from Sichuan Thursday afternoon – during which the female panda was a little nervous.
A total of 10 central government officials, including State Forestry Administration Deputy Director Chen Fengxue, witnessed the arrival. Secretary for Administration and Justice Sonia Chan Hoi Fan, local government officials and several dozen pupils greeted them at the airport when they arrived.
The pair were transported directly to Oscar Farm in Coloane to begin their 30-day quarantine. Depending on their health reports they should be able to move into their state-of-the-art pavilion just around the corner in Seac Pai Van Park to meet the public next month.
Initially, admission to the pavilion will be restricted so that the pair get gradually used to having visitors looking at them, local government officials said last month.
Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding specialist Yang Zhi told reporters that the pair slept most of the time during the two-hour flight.
“They mostly just slept. We covered their cage with a cloth and created a quiet and dark environment for them. It was only when there was a loud noise that Shurong reacted a little bit. She’s a little more nervous,” Yang said, referring the eight-year-old female panda by her birth name. The birth name of the seven-year-old male panda is Yalin.
Their official names in Putonghua are “Kai Kai” for the male and “Xin Xin” for the female. In Cantonese, they are “Hoi Hoi” and “Sam Sam”. The names when put together mean “happy”.
These are the names of Macau’s original panda pair, which were gifted to the city by the central government to mark the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR). However, the original Sam Sam died of kidney failure last year and the central government decided on the occasion of the MSAR’s 15th anniversary last year to give the city two new ones.
The panda pavilion’s local vet Chan Hoi Fong told reporters that two vets from the pavilion had spent some time in Chengdu to bond with the new pandas and get them used to bamboo from Guangdong.
“They seem to have a better appetite for Guangdong bamboo,” said Chan, adding that the quarantine period would also give the vets and keepers time to bond with the pandas and understand their lifestyle patterns.
In Chengdu, the pair munched on bamboo from Sichuan.
“The only thing the vets from Chengdu suggested was to be gentler with Shurong because she’s quite timid,” Chan said.
“The vets in the base have always been calling them [Shurong and Yalin] in Sichuanese [dialect]. We’ll be starting to call them Kai Kai and Xin Xin in Putonghua here,” Chan added.
The original Hoi Hoi will be returned to Chengdu to join a breeding programme. However, local officials have not yet announced the date of his departure. (macaunews/macaupost)