“Diplomacy of the panda”
China sends bears to Berlin for the G20
The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, launched the negotiations to get bears during a visit to China in 2015.
Panda bears are ambassadors, they are sometimes more dear that the ambassadors human. Photo: File
Andreas Landwehr and Ulrike von Leszczynski
Two panda bears will arrive tomorrow to Berlin as ambassadors of the protection of the species, a loan from the people’s Republic of China to Germany in sign of good will face to the summit, the Group of Twenty industrialised and emerging countries (G20) to be held on 7 and 8 July in Hamburg.
The female Mengmeng (night night, in chinese) and the male Jiao Qing (Tesorito) will go to the zoo of the German capital from the breeding centre in Chengdu, in central China, where they lived in quarantine. China is the only country in which the pandas live in the wild and are under strict protection.
Six years after the death of the popular polar bear Knut, the Berlin zoo hopes that the giant pandas will become your new attraction.
No other zoo in Germany has pandas. In China, the care of this species is a “matter of State”. The bears are threatened but no longer are in danger of extinction. According to the organization for the protection of animals WWF, little more than 2,000 animals live in the bamboo forests of southwestern China. The protection and breeding has contributed to the increase of the population.
In the olden days, these friendly animals were donated by the chinese Government, but are now assigned to loan to other countries in what is known as the “diplomacy of the panda”. Only heads of State and government, friends of China can apply for pandas.
Animals not only have a political value high, it also costs a lot of money, a million dollars a year “rent”. The greater part of this fee is intended for the protection of the species and research on the pandas and the rest is devoted to administrative expenses. The pandas are always a loan and remain the property of China, including the fry.
The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, launched the negotiations to get bears during a visit to China in 2015. The chinese ambassador to Germany, Shi Mingde, noted last April that the assignment highlighted the friendship between the two countries. “Panda bears are ambassadors and, at times, are more dear that the ambassadors human”.
The chinese president, Xi Jinping, is scheduled to visit the couple of giant pandas along with Merkel on July 5 in the framework of his visit to Germany and his participation in the G20 summit. “It will be the photo most important of all the visit,” noted well-informed circles.
The bears have grown up separately and meet for the first time in Berlin, where he is expected to play. However, there are also each one will have their own space. “The pandas are animals that are very individualistic,” said Yin Hong, the chinese expert who raised them. “Pandas can’t be together because otherwise they would fight”.
The pandas can live together when they are young or in short phase of mating, of about two weeks in the spring. The female panda is fertile for only three or four days. “We would like to have breeding but we have to see how they get used to each other,” admitted the caretaker German Christian Toll, who is in charge of the animals in Berlin.
“Night night” is four years old and is a female, very active. “It is very nervous, he runs a lot, watch a lot, shows a lot of interest”, describes Toll. “Tesorito”, for its part, has seven years and “is more the quiet man is a long time to cast and not very impressive”.
In Berlin, the pandas will need to adapt to a new climate, new smells, and new bamboo. The animals swallowed between 50 and 60 kilos of bamboo a day and the food is sent directly from the Netherlands. The pandas will have to get used to a new language. Until now, only knew the dialect of Sichuan, and in Berlin you will receive the instructions in English.
Toll also began to make a training the pandas to learn the position to be subjected to ultrasound, or to open the mouth for examination of teeth. “The biggest challenge will be to stay quiet because the pandas are quite sensitive to stress and noise,” explained Toll. And if it doesn’t work the mating, the breeder chinese Yuan Bo has a piece of advice: show “pornos of pandas”, videos of other pandas mating so they can imitate. “Yes, look,” said the caregiver. “In nature, the pandas see their peers, but not so in the zoo. We put movies to learn. If they like it, stay more time looking at the pictures.”
The Berlin zoo has experience in the care of pandas. In 2012 he died, the panda “Bao Bao”. The zoo has invested nine million euros (ten million dollars) to build the new home of the pandas in close cooperation with China. The animal will stay in Germany for 15 years.