Panda cub Nuan Nuan leaves for China
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.
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.