You *Might* See Giant Panda Ya Ya at Beijing Zoo in The Future

By Alistair Baker-Brian, April 11, 2023

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If you’ve followed recent panda-related news, chances are you’ve come across Ya Ya – the giant panda who is set to return to China from Memphis Zoo in Tennessee, United States. 

Born in 2000, female panda Ya Ya has been in Memphis Zoo since 2003, along with male panda Le Le, who sadly passed away on February 1 of this year. 

With Ya Ya’s lease at an end, the Zoo held a farewell event on April 8, which offered members of the public the chance to write a message to Ya Ya and see a performance by the Tennessee Wushu School, reports Xinhua

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Image via Weibo/@慧_wen

Upon returning to China, Ya Ya will undergo 30 days of quarantine in Shanghai, in accordance with the law. After quarantine, Ya Ya will then be moved to Beijing Zoo. 

What’s not yet certain is whether Ya Ya will be on display to the public, according to Jimu News, who spoke to members of staff from Beijing Zoo. 

Experts quoted in Beijing Youth Daily said that at 23 years, Ya Ya is considered to be in old age. With this in mind, she requires close monitoring and, if she is to be on display to the public, the number of visitors should be limited. 

Ya Ya’s physical appearance has recently led to concerns about her health. 

Some Weibo users have posted using the hashtag ‘Ya Ya’s condition is getting better and better’ – which has garnered over 340 million views on the social media platform – to claim that the panda has been mistreated and that China should not send any more pandas to the United States.

Some users also suggested that the bamboo being fed to Ya Ya was not fresh enough. 

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Image via Weibo/@这只是一个传说

On Memphis Zoo’s official website, a press release entitled Memphis Zoo Responds to Misinformation About Pandas states that information about Ya Ya and Le Le – including that related to husbandry, reproductivity and nutrition – is subject to regular reports which are shared with the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens (CAZG). 

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On Ya Ya’s physical appearance, they stated that: 

“Ya Ya lives with a chronic skin and fur condition which is inherently related to her immune system and directly impacted by hormonal fluctuations.

“This condition does not affect her quality of life but does occasionally make her hair look thin and patchy.

“The condition is closely monitored by our animal care team and veterinary staff.” 

They added that, despite efforts via natural breeding and artificial insemination, Ya Ya was unable to maintain a pregnancy. 

Experts from CAZG who recently visited Memphis Zoo reported that apart from the aforementioned chronic skin and fur condition, Ya Ya’s overall health condition – including diet, faeces, weight, etc. – was normal.


[Cover image via Weibo/@这只是一个传说]

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