The Beijing Zoo has began preparation work to welcome Yaya, a 23-year-old giant panda living in Memphis Zoo in the United States for 20 years, back home, reported the Beijing News Thursday.
Beijing Zoo has not decided whether to let Yaya meet the public after coming back as considerations will be given to its health condition and evaluations from feeder and the zoo.
On April 2003, female giant panda Lele from Shanghai Zoo and male giant panda Yaya from Beijing Zoo arrived at the Memphis Zoo as a China-U.S. joint protection and research project. The Memphis Zoo signed an agreement with the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens in 2013 to extend its lease for another 10 years.
According to the extended lease, Yaya will return home on April 7.
Chinese netizens discovered in the beginning of 2022 that the giant pandas' health condition was not encouraging. They claimed that Yaya was suffering from skin disease and malnutrition. Later the Chinese Association of Zoological Parks organized experts to conduct multiple health evaluations on Yaya and said that Yaya was in sound health.
However, netizens' concern reappeared with Lele's sudden death on Feb 1. They said that Yaya should be sent back to China as soon as possible.