China: Around The Nation

US-born giant panda twins struggle with the local food and language after arriving in China

Animals can’t understand keepers and prefer American-made snacks after spending first three years of life in Atlanta, newspaper reports

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 November, 2016, 12:15pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 November, 2016, 1:11pm

Three-year-old panda twins have arrived at a research centre in southwest China as part of a loan agreement with a zoo in the United States, a newspaper reported.

Mei Lun and Mei Huan were born at Zoo Atlanta, but are now settled at a panda research centre in Chengdu in Sichuan province, the Chengdu Business Daily reported.

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The pandas’ parents were loaned by the authorities in China to the zoo in the US and as part of the deal any offspring are returned to the mainland when they are old enough.

Breeder Luo Yunhong was quoted as saying that the twins prefer snacks such as biscuits made of starch brought back from the United States and showed little interest in the food made at the breeding centre.

The pandas also struggle to understand the breeders’ Sichuan dialect and respond only to English commands such as “come here”, the newspaper reported.

The two pandas will stay in quarantine for one month before moving into a breeding area at the centre.

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Luo said the twins were gradually adapting to life in their new home and their appetites were improving.

The pandas were born at Zoo Atalanta in July 2013 and are the fourth and fifth offspring of 19-year-old parents Lun Lun and Yang Yang.