Yi Yi, Sheng Yi to return to China after August

Star attraction: Despite the hot weather, Zoo Negara is seeing an increase in the number of visitors who are eager to see the panda cubs before they return to China. — AZMAN GHANI/The Star

PETALING JAYA: Yi Yi and Sheng Yi, the two panda cubs born in Malaysia, will be returned to China together after August, says Zoo Negara deputy president Rosly@Rahmat Ahmat Lana.

He said the agreement between Malaysia and China – which loaned a pair of pandas to Zoo Negara – states that any cubs born must be returned to China once they reach two years old.

However, China has not fixed an exact date for Yi Yi and Sheng Yi to make the journey.

“We will request the Chinese government to arrange to have Sheng Yi and Yi Yi sent back together,” he told The Star.

According to Rosly, Sheng Yi’s two-year-stay here ends on Aug 31, and Zoo Negara intends to send it back together with Yi Yi, which was born in 2018, to save transportation costs.

“We are waiting for the Chinese side to set a date for the repatriation,” he said.

Sheng Yi and Yi Yi are the offspring of Fu Wa and Feng Yi, the pandas loaned to Malaysia in 2014 for 10 years to mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Malaysia and China.

The giant pandas were renamed Xing Xing and Liang Liang after they arrived in Malaysia.

Since arriving here, they became parents to Nuan Nuan (born Aug 18, 2015); Yi Yi (Jan 14, 2018); and Sheng Yi (May 30, 2021)

Nuan Nuan returned to China in 2017, but Yi Yi’s return was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Rosly said it was up to the Malaysian government to decide whether the agreement to keep Xing Xing and Liang Liang should be extended after 2024.

He added that Xing Xing and Liang Liang’s presence is good enough for the zoo, and there is no need to keep panda cubs here.

He said many Malaysians had visited the zoo recently to see the young pandas due to their imminent return to China.

“The number of visitors has increased dramatically in the past few months, and despite the hot weather, visitors still insist on seeing the pandas,” he said.

When asked if Xing Xing and Liang Liang had any chance of having a fourth baby, he explained that female pandas only go into heat for about 24 to 72 hours per year, usually between March and May.

“But there has not been any signs of mating that we are aware of,” he added.

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