Experts from China arrived in the U.S. and visited the Memphis Zoo on Saturday, where giant panda Ya Ya lives, to carefully assess the living and breeding conditions of Ya Ya, following the giant panda's health condition that has sparked concerns among Chinese netizens.
A video taken by a Chinese netizen who visited Ya Ya at the Memphis Zoo shows a staff member from China carefully inspecting the quality of her living conditions and diet.
A team of veterinarians and keepers was sent by the Beijing Zoo to the U.S. to assess Ya Ya's breeding condition and work with the Memphis Zoo to arrange the necessary breeding and nursing work for the giant panda, read a notice released by the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens on March 8.
The relevant departments from China and the U.S. have been actively discussing measures to speed up procedures for Ya Ya to return home, in an effort to bring her back home soon, and the Chinese side has already completed the approval procedures.
Ya Ya will be quarantined in Shanghai for about a month after her return from the U.S. and will reside in Beijing Zoo when her condition is qualified. Beijing Zoo has already made preparations to welcome Ya Ya home in terms of breeding grounds, feeding plans, medical care and feed supplies.
A video taken by netizens in the U.S. at the end of February showing Ya Ya's living conditions at the Memphis Zoo has raised concerns among netizens about her health, and they have been calling for her to be brought home to China.
In the video, the bamboo provided by the zoo looked difficult for Ya Ya to swallow, and the skinny panda is forced to beg for food from visitors. Ya Ya's thin physique and dirty living conditions have caused concerns among netizens.
Entries such as "Ya Ya continues to beg for food" and "what can we do for the national treasure to return home" continue to be top searches on Sina Weibo, a Chinese Twitter-like social media platform.
In April of 2003, Ya Ya from Beijing Zoo and Le Le from Shanghai Zoo arrived at the Memphis Zoo in the U.S. state of Tennessee as part of a joint conservation and research project between the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens and the U.S. zoo. The agreement was initially for 10 years and was extended by 10 more years in 2013. Earlier in February, Ya Ya's male partner, giant panda Le Le, passed away at the zoo at the age of 25.
The public concerns over giant panda Ya Ya in the U.S. have grown into a spontaneous "campaign" among Chinese people all around the world to check how pandas are surviving in overseas zoos.
However, the safety and health of Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, a pair of giant pandas also living in the U.S., have also raised concerns, with a video posted by a netizen showing the two pandas in poor condition and suspected health problems.
Mei Xiang gave birth to a cub on August 21, 2020 in the U.S., shortly after her 22nd birthday. This is the first time a panda has been successfully impregnated and delivered by artificial insemination with frozen semen at a zoo in the U.S., making it the oldest panda to give birth in the country. Under an agreement previously renewed by the zoo, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian and their cub Little Miracle will remain in the United States until the end of 2023.