Giant Pandas for Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: Malaysians will soon be able to see the iconic but endangered Giant Panda in real life. China will loan two baby pandas to the country for 10 years.

This follows an agreement between the Government and China Wildlife Conservation Association, in commemoration of the countries' 40th anniversary of diplomatic relationship, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry said in a statement yesterday.

The agreement will be signed on June 15.

The pandas will be placed in a special exhibit in Taman Wetland, Putrajaya. Malaysians will also get the chance to name to pandas in a nationwide contest.

The ministry said the cooperation would enable Malaysia to conduct conservation research, adding that the presence of the pandas would promote public awareness on China's panda conservation efforts.

“This agreement shows Malaysia's commitment towards China's effort in increasing the number of endangered Giant Panda which is endemic in China, estimated currently about 1,600 only.

“This is in accordance to Aichi Targets 2010 under the Convention on Biological Diversity which promote conservation efforts in preventing species extinction,” the statement read.

The ministry said the close relationship between the two countries had enabled Malaysia to attract more foreign investment from China to boost the country's economy further.

“Through this cooperation too, Malaysia can conduct conservation research on the Giant Panda.

The strength of our local expertise will be enhanced through technology transfer by PRC in the field of artificial insemination, genetic and behavioural study on the Giant Panda,” it said.

The agreement was made following Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Nanning, China, last April.

Najib had made the request during his visit there to open the Malaysia-China industrial park.

China news reports in April reported that Malaysia would spend a whopping RM20mil for the upkeep of the pandas.

The budget is expected to cover for the construction of an air-conditioned sanctuary for the pandas, importing bamboos from China for their meals as well to train local handlers for the animals.

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