PETALING JAYA - With giant pandas Fu Wa and Feng Yi set to arrive in Malaysia latest by Chinese New Year (Jan 31), preparations by Zoo Negara have swung into full gear.
Its deputy director Dr Muhammad Danial Felix said four keepers had been identified to care for the giant pandas, while renovations for their complex were almost 60 per cent completed.
"The excitement is building up. On the whole, everything is moving according to the plan and Fu Wa and Feng Yi will definitely arrive by Chinese New Year," he said when contacted.
He said the keepers had spent the past few months learning about giant panda husbandry via stints spent at Thailand's Chiang Mai Zoo and Singapore's River Safari.
Dr Muhammad Danial said the stints had boosted the keepers' confidence greatly, adding that they would visit Fu Wa and Feng Yi next month to begin the critical bonding process.
Noting that the female giant panda was ready to breed for a mere 72-hour window in a year, he said the keepers played a vital role in assessing whether Feng Yi was ready via taking daily urine samples as well as through observing her behaviour.
"When the arrival date is set, the keepers will return to China for two weeks to a month prior to it, so they can re-establish the relationship," he said, adding that Fu Wa and Feng Yi are based at Bifengxia Panda Base in Ya'an, Sichuan.
River Safari assistant curator (zoology) Halim Ali said that Singapore's giant pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia have settled down nicely since they arrived on Sept 6 last year.