The pair of Giant Pandas, 7 year old male Bing Xing and 4 year old female Hua Zui Ba were sent to Barcelona, Spain on Friday, on loan by China from Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding as a goodwill gesture following a visit to Beijing earlier this year by Spain’s King. Bing Xing, whose name means ‘Star of Ice’, weighs 308 pounds (140 kilos), and his mate Hua Zui Ba, whose name means ‘Cuty Lips’ weighs about 205 pounds (93 kilos).
The cuddly pair of Giant Pandas will remain in Madrid’s zoo for 10 years, after an agreement was reached in June during King Juan Carlos’ visit.
Unique to China, Giant Pandas are among the rarest animals in the world and are considered China’s unofficial national mascot. With only about 1,590 Pandas left in the wild, most are from the western provinces of Sichuan and the Shaanxi.
Sarah M. Bexell, the PhD Director of Conservation Education at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding invited my contact in China to the event for this exclusive story, who was able to capture photos and video clips.
Sarah has been in Chengdu at the Research Center for about 8 years, and had previously been assigned to the Atlanta Zoo in Georgia, where the 2 American Pandas are housed.
Sarah Bexell works towards educating the world about conservation ideas and particularly with concerns affecting the Giant Panda species. She works closely with schools and teachers to help educate the new generations. Sarah absolutely loves her job and feels blessed to be in such close contact with these gentle creatures.
Of course there are mixed feelings in seeing these two Pandas leave for a new home in Barcelona, Spain, but she knows they will be cared for and have a chance to breed. Additionally, they will help further educate the many people that will visit them in their new home.
Giant Pandas arrive safely in Spain
Bing Xing and Hua Zui Ba arrived at Madrid’s Barajas airport, after leaving their home in the southwest city of Chengdu on Friday. They stayed overnight in Shanghai before their long intercontinental flight.
The Chinese government occasionally sends Pandas abroad as a sign of warm diplomatic relations or to mark diplomatic breakthroughs.
A designated area measuring 11,840 sq. feet (1,100 sq. meters), including separate outdoor gardens for each panda, a central pagoda, bathing pools, medical facilities and a kitchen area has been prepared for the Pandas in Madrid’s zoo.
Financial details of the arrangement with Spain were not revealed. China uses payments from zoos around the world that host lent Pandas to fund extensive and expensive research and breeding programs.
All Panda cubs born overseas as a result from lent animals remain China’s property. About 210 cubs have been bred in captivity, with more than 20 Pandas born in captivity in China last year.
In 1983, the Madrid zoo saw the birth of Chu Lin, the first Panda cub to be born using artificial insemination in Europe. Chu Lin lived for 13 years.
Female Pandas are typically sexually mature between ages 4 and 5 years old. Under ideal conditions, they can become pregnant once a year and give birth to 1 or 2 cubs at a time.
Torch Bearer for the 2008 Beijing Olympics
The first group of Torch Bearers for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games comes from the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.
Sichuan candidates include Giant Panda keeper Shibin, Gongjinyuan, Yangtao and Zhouyitian, who were the first fortunate people to make it through every level of the selection process and are now the first group of torch bearers from Sichuan for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
Pandas Bing Xing and Hua Zuiba – 1
The pair of Pandas prior to send-off from
Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding to Spain.
Pandas Bing Xing and Hua Zuiba – 2
Bing Xing chews and spews bamboo, with a brief glimpse of Hua Zui Ba.
CCTV has an excellent video of the Panda’s arrival and the birthday celebrations of several other Pandas on loan.
Spain arrival source: Chengdu Research Base
All photos other than the arrival of the Giant Pandas are property of a contact in China who wishes to remain anonymous and may not be used without permission.
Copyright 2007 Life in the Fast Lane
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