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People in Malaysia help care for pandas at zoo

Reporter: Rian Maelzer 丨 CCTV.com

04-25-2016 06:24 BJT

The 'Giant Panda keeper experience' is a program that lets volunteers in Malaysia help look the animals at the country’s national zoo. China loaned Malaysia two adult giant pandas two years ago to mark 40 years of diplomatic ties between the countries who last year produced a baby in near record time. And despite the unglamorous nature of the work, Malaysians are lining up for a chance to clean up after the panda family.

Giant pandas Liang Liang and Xing Xing, and baby Nuan Nuan are a huge draw for local and foreign visitors to Malaysia’s national zoo. But many people want to do more than just observe these beloved animals in their custom-built, air-conditioned enclosure. They want to get their hands dirty helping out as volunteers.

"There was a fantastic response. We received a lot of email a lot of enquiries about this program. And then they wanted to know more, to learn more about the giant panda and also how we take care of the panda with our experienced keepers," Junaidi Omar with Malaysia National Zoo's Education Dept. said.

The volunteers help prepare the pandas’ food, including scrubbing the bamboo, and whipping up nutritious baked snacks for them. Then they help lay out the treats in the enclosure.
And of course what goes in.

"Yeah, it’s been quite interesting, but fortunately the poop isn't that smelly. We find out more, like that they don’t really digest the bamboo that they eat. It comes out like the same," Vanessa Goh, volunteer with Giant Panda Keeper Experience said.

Any volunteers expecting to get up close to the pandas will be disappointed, though. Strict biosecurity rules mean they can only see the pandas from afar to prevent the possibility of passing on any illness or disease to the animals. Still, it’s an educational experience for them.

"You get to help out with the pandas and you get to know a lot more actually. It's a great experience, and you definitely learn something and you definitely get something out of it," Ch' Ng Yu Ru, volunteer with Giant Panda Keeper Experience said.

The pandas are obviously thriving in the environment Malaysia has created for them.

It took Liang Liang barely a year after arriving in Malaysia to conceive through natural means. That’s one of the fastest times ever for a new panda pair to successfully mate in captivity. It normally takes around eight years.

That has raised hopes that Xing Xing and Liang Liang will have more babies during their remaining eight years in Malaysia. The volunteer programme aims to give the public a chance to help contribute to the conservation of this endangered species -- by making the pandas’ lives as comfortable as possible.

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