Two pandas born in Japan four years ago became the
first overseas-born twins to return to China yesterday.
Ryuhin and Shuhin, both males, left Osaka around 3:30 am
(Beijing time) on October 27, stayed in Beijing overnight and
reached the Chengdu research base of the Giant Panda Breeding
Center yesterday afternoon.
The twins will be quarantined in a newly built house for two to
three months before they are shown to visitors, Zhang Zhihe, chief
of the base in Sichuan Province, said. The quarantine will not only
check against any disease they might be carrying, but also help
them adapt to the new environment.
Ryuhin and Shuhin were born on September 8, 2003, to Yong Ming
and Mei Mei. The research base had leased Yong Ming and Mei Mei to
the Adventure World Park Zoo in Wakayama in Japan in 1994 and 2000,
respectively, under a Sino-Japanese cooperation program on panda
China has been involved in long-term giant panda breeding
cooperation programs with Japan, the US and Spain since 1994.
"Mei Mei has given birth to nine cubs in Japan out of which
seven have survived. Japan has more pandas than any other country
except the Chinese mainland," said Jing Shimin, assistant to the
director of the research base.
The first panda born in Japan, Yuhin, returned to China in June
2004. According to a cooperation clause, cubs born to pandas loaned
to other countries have to be returned to China after they attain
"In 2004, the cooperation program on giant panda breeding
between the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding and the
Adventure World Park Zoo in Wakayama was extended because of the
results achieved," Zhang said.
Tanigaki Kunilo, a panda lover in Wakayama who accompanied the
panda twins to Chengdu, said she was sad to bid "goodbye" to them.
But the fact that they would live in the environmentally friendly
base, which impressed her very much, made her feel happy for the
Spread over 33 hectares, the base is home to 67 pandas and is
surrounded by evergreen bamboo forests.
Giant pandas are one of the most endangered species in the
world, with only 1,590 surviving in the wild, most of them in
Southwest China's mountainous regions.
At the end of last year, about 210 giant pandas were living in
captivity in China.
A panda is returning from the US, too. A four-year-old male
panda Mei Sheng, born in the San Diego Zoo, is returning home to
"Mei Sheng (literally meaning "Born in the US") was born on
August 19, 2003, the first to be born in the US without the help of
artificial insemination, said Li Desheng, deputy director of
China's Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda Wolong
Nature Reserve in Sichuan.
San Diego Zoo veterinarians conducted a thorough medical
check-up on Mei Sheng and announced he was ready for his airplane
trip, Li said.
Zoo experts said they had collected a lot of information on
giant pandas' growth and mother-cub relations, thanks to Mei Sheng
and his mother Bai Yun.
Li said Mei Sheng's return was part of the cooperation agreement
on panda research between China and the US. The US has to return a
panda cub born to parents loaned out to it before it becomes
(China Daily October 29, 2007)