Loaning out our wildlife - for a fee

Loaning out our wildlife - for a fee

KUALA LUMPUR - Zoo Negara will study China's method of loaning its pandas to other countries and propose for the same to be done with the wildlife in Malaysia.

Zoo Negara deputy director Dr Muhammad Danial Felix said the same could be done with Malaysian wildlife such as the orang utan and the Malayan tiger to fund research and sustainability of the animals.

"If other countries want our animals, we can practise this method. We may not need to impose such a high fee but we can charge a certain amount - not for free.

"For China, the loan of these animals sustains research work, and we can do the same here," he said.

On June 15, 2012, the Malaysian and Chinese governments clinched a deal for pandas Feng Yi and Fu Wa to be loaned to Malaysia to mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries this year.

Malaysia will be paying China US$ 1mil (S$1.25 million) a year for 10 years to keep the pandas.

The two giant pandas will be arriving from Chengdu, China, next month but visitors can only see them at the zoo a month later to allow the animals to adapt to the new environment.

If the two pandas on loan here produce a baby, Malaysia would have to pay China US$640,000 and can keep the baby for two years.

"The female panda is only productive for 72 hours a year, so if the animals are not able to mate at that specific time, we will have to wait another year to try again.

"This is why we have to invest in expensive equipment such as for urine analysis.

"Through the urine samples, we will be able to determine when the female is ready to mate," Dr Muhammad Danial said.

If the pandas were to reproduce, more people would visit the zoo as they would want to see the baby, he added.

To get the pandas accustomed to its local trainers, Zoo Negara has sent two of its staff members to China to spend time with the animals before returning with the animals next week.

The fully air-conditioned 1.6ha panda complex is fitted with three air conditioners and 22 CCTV cameras.

It will also have a nursery and there will be two veterinarians on stand-by.

"We have to be very meticulous about the day-to-day operations as we have to check everything from the exact amount food consumed each day to the colour and consistency of the faeces," Dr Muhammad Danial said.

The pandas were originally slated to take up residency at Zoo Negara this week, but the arrival was postponed to a more "significant date" to celebrate 40 years of diplomatic relations between both countries which falls next month.

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