Dingding, a female panda. (Photo/asianewsphoto)
Li Caiwu was emotional as he prepared to leave Shuangliu International Airport in Chengdu, Sichuan province, as two giant pandas, Ruyi and Dingding, were flown to Moscow in April.
"I lived with them day and night during their one-month quarantine before their departure, and I fell in love with them," said Li, 38, who heads the animal hospital at the Ya'an base of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda.
Having worked at various bases since he graduated from a university as an animal medicine major in 2005, Li has bid farewell to many pandas, including animals heading for Malaysia, Australia and South Korea.
"But I felt more pressure this time with Ruyi and Dingding, because the top leaders of Russia and China will attend the opening ceremony of the panda house," Li said.
Ruyi, a 3-year-old male, and Dingding, a 2-year-old female, will stay at a panda facility at the Moscow Zoo for 15 years as part of a scientific program.
They have received special care, Li said, adding that each had a 50-square-meter den and a more than 1,000-square-meter playground during their monthlong quarantine at the Ya'an base.
"Each day during the quarantine, we took their temperatures and checked their pulses. We observed whether they had good appetites and checked their droppings for anything abnormal. The two pandas are strong and were never ill during the quarantine," Li said.
On the first day after arriving, Dingding, who was unfamiliar with the environment, stayed in a tree on the playground and refused to come down, ignoring calls from Wang Pingfeng, an experienced keeper, who is in Russia to take care of the two.