Panda cub Nuan Nuan leaves for China

New Straits Times - - News -

SEPANG: The driz­zle and cloudy sky aptly re­flected the som­bre mood among the ground han­dlers as they gin­gerly loaded the coun­try’s first lo­cally-born panda onto the air­craft headed for her home­land, China, yes­ter­day.

Nuan Nuan, which means warmth in Chi­nese, was born on Aug 18, 2015 to gi­ant pan­das, Xing Xing and Liang Liang. She was on her way to Du­jiangyan Panda Base in Sichuan, China.

At 2pm yes­ter­day, the 90kg gi­ant panda cub was tak­ing a nap in her cage. She later be­came more an­i­mated, hap­pily eat­ing bam­boo shoots inside the cage.

The air­craft took off at 5.40pm. Nuan Nuan was ac­com­pa­nied by Zo­ol­ogy, Vet­eri­nary and Gi­ant Panda Con­ser­va­tion Cen­tre di­rec­tor Dr Mat Naim Ramli and an­other vet, Dr Jessie Ho.

MAB Kargo Sdn Bhd (MASkargo) chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Ah­mad Luq­man Mohd Azmi said Nuan Nuan was on Flight MH6476, an A330-200 freighter, pi­loted by Cap­tain Is­mail Yaakub and copi­lot Shahreen Abu Has­san.

“The plane is ex­pected to land at the Shuan­glin Air­port in Chengdu at 9.55pm.

“In a re­la­tion­ship that au­gurs well for Malaysia, we are proud to be part of such a sig­nif­i­cant event. It is an hon­our and a na­tional ser­vice for MASkargo to trans­port one of the na­tional trea­sures of China to her home­land,” said Luq­man at MASkargo An­i­mal Ho­tel.

The cost of fly­ing Nuan Nuan to China was about US$100,000 (RM419,257), he said.

With al­most 20 years of ex­pe­ri­ence, he said, MASkargo and its An­i­mal Ho­tel were well equipped with ex­per­tise on live an­i­mal han­dling and trans­porta­tion.

Ear­lier, Dr Mat Naim said it took about three months to pre­pare for Nuan Nuan’s trip to China.

He said Nuan Nuan was well­be­haved and did not cause trouble for her keep­ers.

“All of us who looked af­ter the cub have de­vel­oped a bond with her.

“The most mem­o­rable mo­ment I have with her in­volved a stray cat. Nuan Nuan had climbed high to the ceil­ing and re­fused to come down for nearly 20 hours.

“We were won­der­ing why she was act­ing up and later learned that she was up­set by the pres­ence of a stray cat. Once we caught the cat, she came down.”

Dr Mat Naim said Nuan Nuan would adapt eas­ily to her new en­vi­ron­ment in China.

Her care­taker, Ah­mad Farhan Ah­mad Razei, said she loved play­ing with her stuffed panda doll when she was small. He said Nuan Nuan chose the panda doll over other toys and would cud­dle it when she was sleep­ing.

Farhan said he would miss the panda cub as he had taken care of Nuan Nuan since she was one week old.

The move to re­turn Nuan Nuan to China is in com­pli­ance with the Malaysia-China Gi­ant Panda In­ter­na­tional Con­ser­va­tion Agree­ment, whereby any panda cub born in Malaysia is to be re­turned to China upon the age of two.

PIC BY HAFIZ SOHAIMI

Zoo Ne­gara work­ers load­ing a special cage used to house the gi­ant panda cub Nuan Nuan onto a lorry at the zoo in Kuala Lumpur yes­ter­day.

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