Panda pair Hua Bao and Jin Baobao left Sichuan province in China last week to move into their new home in Ähtäri Zoo, Finland. The exchange of pandas turned a new page in a long relationship of forestry and environment conservation between China and Finland.
Three years old female panda Jin Baobao (金宝宝) and four years old male panda Hua Bao (华豹) – known as Lumi (Snow) and Pyry (Flurry) in Finnish – left from Dujiangyan panda center to Ähtäri Zoo in Finland last week. The exchange of pandas made Finland to become one of the eight European nations that have pandas.
Finland offers a good home for pandas because the climate and environmental conditions are similar to panda’s natural habitat. For pandas it’s important to have four seasons and especially snowy winters. Moreover, as the dark period of winter gives a way for brighter spring, it enhances panda’s reproductive instinct. It is highly wished that Finland’s panda couple would breed so that the cubs could be sent back to China to strengthen the diversity of the specie’s genotype.
Hua Bao and Jin Baobao’s cubs would be for a great worth for China’s panda conservation program. That is why both Hua Bao and Jin Baobao have been examined thoroughly and found to be very healthy and vital. Jin Baobao has been called as the China’s most beautiful panda whose habit is to climb up to a tree to dine. Hua Bao, on the other hand, is famous for its energetic spirit.
The couple resides in Ähtäri Zoo where there’s a spacious modern wooden panda house representing Nordic architecture. With the collaboration of the world’s best experts, the house offers a wide outdoor space in the middle of the Finnish forest as well as with comfortable and spacious indoor facilities. For the last two years China and Finland have collaborated were intensely to maximize Finnish expertise on panda caring.
The exchange of pandas to Finland was signed last year in April during the China’s president Xi Jinping’s state visit to Finland. However, panda pair didn’t come out of the blue to underline the warm relations between China and Finland. Linked to pandas, there are 40 years of tight collaborations between Finland’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and China’s State Forestry Administration (SFA). SFA builds and maintains the conservation areas for pandas and is the body in charge of conservation of pandas. Finland has for example taken part in conservation of panda forests in the Sichuan province.
The first proposal straightly concerning the research and conservation of pandas between China and Finland was made as early as at the turn of new millennium. However, in 2008 a fierce earthquake occurred in Sichuan province damaging various panda research centers in area. The co-operation had to be halted for few years.
Pandas were taken on the agenda again at the beginning of this decade with China proposing the exchange of these animals for the first time. The negotiations finally started in 2015 and Finland had its pandas at record-breaking time.
Pandas will sure increase the tourism in Finland and especially in Southern Ostrobothnia region in which Ähtäri belongs. However, pandas are placed outside China in the first place to secure the species. If there were animal disease to spread among pandas in China, the individuals that are located outside China would remain. For instance, spreading of distemper is considered as a threat to the species.
Along with caring Hua Bao and Jin Baobao, Ähtäri Zoo will also take part in conservation of pandas and their habitat in China. In addition, Ähtäri Zoo will take part in funding both the operations of Dujiangyan wild animal hospital and the research on pandas.