A giant panda born in Japan returned Tuesday afternoon by a special cargo jet to its ancestral home in southwest China's Sichuan Province in order to breed.
Japanese-born giant panda "Xingbang" is seen in the quarantine room at the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Base in Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province, March 16, 2010. [Xinhua photo]
The 4-year-old male panda, Xing Bang (or "Kohin" in Japanese), left Osaka's Itami Airport on Monday evening and arrived at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding at around 1:45 p.m.
In order to make his journey comfortable and safe, Air China Cargo made a detailed plan for Xing Bang's flight to Chengdu and allocated a quiet area for him to sleep overnight at Beijing airport, according to the company.
Xing Bang, weighing 107 kg, was born on Aug. 23, 2005, and was raised at the Adventure World in Shirahama. He was taken to the base's quarantine region on arrival.
"He remained calm, without any stressful reaction to the new environment, and showed a liking for the local bamboo immediately," said Huang Xiangming, director of the base's animal management department.
Like all giant pandas from abroad, Xing Bang would be kept in quarantine for about one month. He also needed time to adapt to the new climate and diet before he could meet the public, Huang said.
Xing Bang paced and sniffed around his room. "He has adapted well," said his keeper, Zhang Lilan.
He was expected to mate when he was sexually mature at seven years.
Xing Bang was the base's fifth giant panda to arrive from abroad since 1994 when Chengdu signed a long-term international breeding cooperation plan with Japan and the United States.
According to the agreements, giant pandas are only loaned to the United States for scientific studies, and their cubs must be sent back to China.
His brothers Xiong Bang, Long Bang and Qiu Bang, all cubs of the male panda Yong Ming and the female panda Mei Mei, returned to China in the past 10 years.
Two American-born giant pandas, Tai Shan and Mei Lan, returned to Sichuan last month.
Tai Shan, a 4-year-old male, met the public on March 9 at the Ya'an Bifeng Gorge Breeding Base of the Wolong Giant Panda Protection and Research Center. Mei Lan, a 3-year-old female, met the public Monday at her new home at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.
Giant pandas, known for being sexually inactive, are among the world's most endangered animals.
About 1,600 giant pandas live in China's wild, mostly in Sichuan and the northwestern provinces of Shaanxi and Gansu. Another 290 are in captive-breeding programs, mainly in China, but also abroad.