KUALA LUMPUR: With Fu Wa and Feng Yi, the two giant pandas from China, due to set foot at Zoo Negara next Wednesday, the excitement is evident among zoo employees.
On the final lap of their preparations, they have already started greeting each other in Mandarin, saying “ni hao (hello)” in anticipation of their furry guests from China.
Zoo Negara deputy director Dr Muhammad Danial Felix said the zoo would have a trial run tomorrow on how to get the pandas into their enclosure.
Painters were seen putting the finishing touches on the statues of pandas in front of the RM25mil Giant Panda Conservation and Exhibition Centre there, which will be home to the pandas.
Visitors to the enclosure, however, will only be able to see the pandas one month later, after the animals adapt to the new environment.
Dr Muhammad Danial said visitors would have to pay an additional fee to enter the enclosure to help the zoo with the upkeep of the animals.
“We have proposed the fee to the Cabinet, which will make the final decision,” he said.
The electricity bill alone, he said, would be RM180,000 a month, as the enclosure had to be fully air-conditioned to maintain the temperature at between 20°C and 22°C.
The pandas have also been insured for US$1mil (RM3.3mil) each for the duration of their stay here, with Zoo Negara having to pay a premium of RM300,000 each year for the 10 years the animals will be here.
The light green oval-shaped 1.6ha panda complex, located about 1km from the zoo entrance, allows visitors to walk “through” the enclosure.
Visitors can view the pandas from a glass panel before entering the main exhibit on the lower ground floor, where they can walk along a bridge overlooking both enclosures.
Each enclosure has a steep terrain, a wooden playground and an ice block.
“At the beginning, not more than 1,400 people will be allowed to enter per day, so as not to scare the animals,” he said.
For the convenience of visitors, he said, the number of remaining tickets for each session would be displayed at the counter.
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