Panda-monium” has descended on the peaceful town of Taiping as a horde of visitors congregated at the Taiping Lake Gardens to see 1,600 papier-mâché panda bears.
Thousands of people from all over Perak made their way to the lake garden, causing congestion on the streets to the area, to catch a glimpse of the statuettes, which was only showcased between 10am and 12pm on Sunday.
As part of its 1,600 Pandas Malaysia Tour, the paper animals delighted the masses and many people could not resist snapping photos of the cute display with their cameras and smartphones.
Event organiser Jeffrey Chin said the tour was to create awareness on animal welfare and the pandas were a symbolic representation of the number of the animals still left in the world.
He said he was happy that the event has attracted so much attention.
“Even when we were beginning to set up the viewing area, about 300 people started gathering around us.
“Our message is straightforward. We hope the people who come here will know that there’s only 1,600 pandas left,” he said.
Chin said the venue in Taiping was chosen because of its natural, beautiful environment.
“The town has its historical heritage and value and it is meaningful to have it here,” he said.
“Even the trees here at the lake garden are more than 300 years old,” he added.
The World Tour started in 2008 as a collaboration between French sculptor Paulo Grangeon and the World Wide Fund for Nature.
The statuettes, which were designed by Grangeon, have travelled to Switzerland, France, Germany, The Netherlands and Italy before hitting Asia, with Malaysia their third stop after Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Businessman Leong Kum Weng, 52, said the event helps to create awareness on the endangered animals.
“I do sincerely hope that they will get the message about conservation of endangered animals, not just the pandas,” he said.
Apart from creating awareness, Leong said the event has also brought in lots of visitors that could help with the local economy.
Teoh Tean Leong, who works in the property development industry, said people in general need to appreciate nature more.
“More people should go green. Sustainability of the environment is for our children and future generations.
“We are already relying so much on electronic gadgets, like smartphones, when most people are not aware that its components are harmful to the environment,” the 35-year-old said.
“Education is not enough. People in the corporate world should also start adopting a more nature-centric way to promote a cleaner environment,” he said.
He added that apart from the panda, the Malayan Tiger too should be protected.
The tour, themed “Initiating The Culture of Creative Conservation”, also made a stop at the Leaning Tower in Teluk Intan on Monday.
They would be in Malaysia until Jan 25, with the last leg of the tour taking place at Publika Shopping Mall in Kuala Lumpur.
For more information about the tour, visit facebook.com/1600PandasMY