China group given RM2.54mil gift for Liang Liang’s cub

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KUALA LUMPUR: The Government is forking out US$600,000 (RM2.54mil) as a token fee to a panda society in China for the birth of a cub here.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the “birthday gift” was stipulated under the Giant Panda International Conservation Cooperation Agreement Programme, through which the two giant pandas, Liang Liang and Xing Xing, were brought to Malaysia.

“When a cub is born, the adopted country will have to give a ‘gift’ to the panda society. With our low currency exchange against the US dollar, they stand to earn slightly.

“But if you look at it from a different angle, we have managed to increase the number of visitors to Zoo Negara since we adopted the pandas.

“So, in reality, we are not at the losing end,” he told reporters after an official visit to the Giant Panda Conservation Centre at Zoo Negara yesterday.

On Aug 18, Liang Liang gave birth to a female cub weighing 175gm. The gestation period was 104 days.

Dr Wan Junaidi said his ministry and the zoo would jointly hold a public contest to name the cub.

“We need some time to ensure that the cub survives infancy before we can name it.

“The ministry and the zoo will make the selection of names. Under the agreement with China, we are allowed to name the cub but with the consent of China,” he added.

Malaysian Zoological Society Giant Panda Conservation Centre and veterinary services director Dr Mat Naim Ramli said it’s up to Liang Liang to “release” the cub before it can be shown to the public.

“It is entirely dependent on the mother as to when she will let go of her cub. As long as she is clutching to her offspring tightly, we will not separate the two.

We hope in the next two months, the cub can be shown to the public,” he said, adding that Liang Liang had shown good maternal instinct by attending to her cub.

The arrival of Liang Liang and Xing Xing marked the 40-year diplomatic ties between both countries. – The Star

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