Tuesday 23 January 2018

US-born giant panda Bao Bao gets warm welcome in China

Bao Bao in her new surroundings. Photos: AP
Bao Bao in her new surroundings. Photos: AP
Journalists take photographs of the giant panda Bao Bao as she is moved on a forklift at her new home in Dujiangyan, south-west China. Photo: AP

Kim Ripoll in Beijing

Bao Bao, the American-born giant panda, has made her first public appearance in China after being moved there from Washington DC.

She was born at the National Zoo in Washington three years ago, but an agreement states that all pandas on loan must be returned to China before they turn four years old, the earliest age at which they might begin breeding.

Bao Bao explored her new enclosure at China's panda breeding base in the city of Dujiangyan, which features both indoor and outdoor play areas. Keepers have been helping her adapt to local bamboo and Chinese steamed bread made from corn, soybeans, rice and eggs.

Bao Bao - which means "precious" or "treasure" - is the 11th panda to be born overseas and returned to China. Because she does not understand commands in Chinese, she is being looked after for a time by an English-speaking keeper.

Giant pandas, China's unofficial national mascot, live mainly in the mountains of Sichuan, with some also found in neighbouring Gansu and Shaanxi provinces.

They have long been considered one of the world's most endangered animals, with an estimated 1,864 living in the wild and 200 in captivity.

Irish Independent

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