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With captive Giant Pandas living longer than ever, list of their physical and even Emotional needs is growing

Of the roughly 30 pandas at the base, Xu is responsible for three, all of them over 20 and starting to develop health issues from failing eyesight to poor digestion and teeth worn down by a lifetime of chopping bamboo.

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Female Giant Panda Qiao Yuan, 24, eats a bamboo shoot at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda Dujiangyan Base in the southwestern province of Sichuan

Failing eyesight, poor digestion, bad teeth, limbs no longer so limber: With captive giant pandas living longer than ever, the list of their physical and even emotional needs is growing.

China, the pandas’ native home, is seeking to cater to those requirements with a special home for the old timers along with customized diets, exercise and other care aimed at improving their quality of life.

“Of course we spend more energy taking care of old pandas,” said Xu Yalin, a panda keeper for 19 years at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda Dujiangyan Base in the southwestern province of Sichuan.

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“Every day we need to interact with them closely and check their mental state,” Xu said. “We also examine their faces, the shape of it and so on. We worry more about the old pandas than the juveniles.”

Pandas are considered old after they turn 20. The current longevity champion, Basi, recently turned 37 and lives in Fujian province in southeast China.

Of the roughly 30 pandas at the base, Xu is responsible for three, all of them over 20 and starting to develop health issues from failing eyesight to poor digestion and teeth worn down by a lifetime of chopping bamboo.

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Those who can no longer handle coarse bamboo shoots get the more tender leaves instead. They eat, sleep and do little else, to the delight of the visitors.

One of Xu’s charges, a 24-year-old female named Qiao Yuan, gets fruits and smooth corn porridge rather than the wowotou bread made of corn and sorghum that younger pandas receive.

“Another panda, who was rescued from the wild, does not eat bamboo because of his bad teeth, so every day we chop bamboo leafs and mix them with pieces of the corn and sorghum bread, with carrots and apples,” Xu said. “It’s like a bamboo-flavored salad.”

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Xu visits Qiao Yuan first thing each morning to ensure she spent a good night. While feeding her a snack of carrots and apples, she performs several exercises aimed at checking Qiao Yuan’s eyesight and teeth. She also has her stand up, to make her stretch her limbs.

Dinner is at 4 p.m. – more bamboo and porridge, which Qiao Yuan eagerly slurps up.

“Looking at Qiao Yuan’s behavior at her age, you can’t help but think about an old human being that has difficulty eating and walking,” said Xu. “Taking care of an old panda is just like taking care of an old person.” (VOA)

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Japan, China to Agree on Giant Panda Breeding Research

The signing is intended to showcase the continuing thaw in bilateral relations that have been frayed

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Japan, China, Giant Panda, Breeding
Candidate zoos for a new giant panda have already been discussed and they include facilities in Miyagi and Hyogo prefectures. Pixabay

Japan and China are planning to cooperate on breeding research for giant pandas by signing a memorandum later this month when their leaders meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, the media reported.

The signing is intended to showcase the continuing thaw in bilateral relations that have been frayed over territorial and historical issues and paves the way for China’s future lease of another giant panda at the request of Japan, The Japan Times quoted sources as saying on Wednesday.

Chinese President Xi Jinping plans to make his first visit to Japan since he came to power in 2013 and a meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is being arranged on the sidelines of the June 28 and 29 summit.

According to the report, the memorandum will state that Japan’s Foreign Ministry and Environment Ministry and China’s National Forestry and Grassland Administration will cooperate over giant panda breeding.

Japan, China, Giant Panda, Breeding
Japan and China are planning to cooperate on breeding research for giant pandas. Pixabay

It will also enable the two countries to jointly cope with diseases and other breeding problems faced by giant pandas, including those already leased to Japan.

Giant pandas from China are seen as symbols of bilateral friendship. There are now 10 giant pandas in Japan, including leased animals and their offspring.

Three of them reside at the Ueno Zoological Gardens in Tokyo, six live at Adventure World in Wakayama prefecture and one is a resident of Kobe Oji Zoo in Hyogo prefecture.

Most recently, the loan period for giant panda cub Xiang Xiang at Ueno zoo was extended until the end of next year. Beijing has ownership of the cub, born in 2017 at the zoo, and the animal was originally due to be returned to China this month, The Japan Times said.

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The envisioned agreement “will add impetus to efforts to secure the lease of another giant panda”, a senior Foreign Ministry official said.

Candidate zoos for a new giant panda have already been discussed and they include facilities in Miyagi and Hyogo prefectures.

The first giant pandas came to Ueno zoo in 1972 to commemorate the normalization of bilateral ties. In 2011, China expressed a willingness to lease more giant pandas to Japan but it did not materialize. (IANS)