Panda main­te­nance to cost RM151m by 2024

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will spend over RM151 mil­lion by 2024 for the gi­ant pan­das at the Na­tional Zoo.

Nat­u­ral Re­sources and En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Wan Ju­naidi Tuanku Jaa­far said more than RM30.2 mil­lion has been spent since 2014 for their up­keep.

“The to­tal ex­pen­di­ture for the Malaysi­aChina Gi­ant Panda In­ter­na­tional Con­ser­va­tion Agree­ment at the Na­tional Zoo for 2014-2016 is RM30,214,186.

“This amount is a com­bi­na­tion of an al­lo­ca­tion of RM25,449,044 and RM4,765,142 from the gov­ern­ment and the zoo re­spec­tively,” he said in a writ­ten re­ply to Datuk Liang Teck Meng (BN-Sim­pang Renggam).

Wan Ju­naidi said the agree­ment was signed be­tween Malaysia and the China Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion As­so­ci­a­tion (CWCA) for a pe­riod of 10 years and will end on May 24, 2024.

“The de­ci­sion to ex­tend (the stay) or to re­turn the panda pair to China will be de­cided by the Cabi­net later,” he said.

Liang had asked the min­istry to state the to­tal ex­pen­di­ture for the gi­ant pan­das and the gov­ern­ment’s plan af­ter the end of the agree­ment.

Wan Ju­naidi had pre­vi­ously said it costs an av­er­age of RM60,000 a month to main­tain the pan­das.

The gov­ern­ment had come un­der heavy crit­i­cism for the high main­te­nance cost for the pan­das.

It was re­ported that en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists have said the money would have been bet­ter spent on con­ser­va­tion ef­forts for threat­ened Malaysian wildlife.

The gi­ant pan­das, fe­male Feng Yi and male Fu Wa, ar­rived in Malaysia on May 21, 2014 and are be­ing housed in a 1.6ha air­con­di­tioned com­plex at the zoo.

Their names were later changed to Liang Liang and Xing Xing re­spec­tively.

China has agreed to loan the pan­das to Malaysia to mark 40 years of diplo­matic ties be­tween the two na­tions.

In Septem­ber last year, the gov­ern­ment had to pay US$600,000 (RM2.6 bil­lion) for the gi­ant panda cub Nuan Nuan, which was born here on Aug 18, 2015 as stated in the agree­ment.

Malaysia among 18 coun­tries that breeds pan­das.

Panda cub Nuan Nuan with her mother Liang Liang.

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