Le Le and Ying Ying settle into new surroundings at Ocean Park

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 April, 2007, 12:00am

The city's newest bamboo-munching darlings, Le Le and Ying Ying, spent a comfortable first night in their new home, out of sight of the public in quarantine at Ocean Park.

There was some concern the 20-month-old cubs might have experienced discomfort during their journey from Sichuan , but they quickly took to their new surroundings, Timothy Ng Sau-kin, assistant director of zoological operations and education, said yesterday.

'These pandas like to play a lot. If one of them sleeps, the other will wake it up because it wants to play.'

They will spend the next 18 months together in Ocean Park's refurbished giant panda habitat before moving to individual living quarters nearby towards the end of next year. The existing habitat, which continues to house ageing pandas An An and Jia Jia, is undergoing a HK$10 million facelift that will provide three different sloping activity areas for Le Le and Ying Ying.

Suzanne Gendron - executive director for zoological operations and education, and director of the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation - said the new area for Le Le and Ying Ying would feature toys, logs, tree stumps and wooden structures to satisfy their love of climbing and sleeping in trees.

The cubs will relocate to Astounding Asia, the new animal kingdom under construction next to the habitat, when it opens at the end of next year. They will be joined by goldfish, crocodiles, endangered red pandas and other creatures, Ocean Park chairman Allan Zeman said. An An and Jia Jia will stay where they are.

The cubs are a big deal for Ocean Park and Hong Kong not only because they are national treasures, but because the mainland stopped offering pandas as state gifts in the 1980s.

For now, the cubs are enjoying a quiet life out of the public eye, feeding on bamboo supplemented by carrots, apples, pears, special cornmeal buns and milk, according to Paul Ng Lai-kong, who specialises in animal behaviour and enrichment management at the park.