Giant panda couple Xing Xing and Liang Liang continue to play their role as “ambassadors” to Malaysia as the couple turned 17 on Wednesday.
In a ceremony, the giant pandas, who have played a prominent role in promoting the close and harmonious relationship between China and Malaysia since their arrival here in 2014, were presented with an “ice cake” as well as other treats to mark their special day at the Giant Panda Conservation Center in Zoo Negara.
Crowds of onlookers turned up to mark the occasion, with many donning panda-themed clothing and accessories as they watched Xing Xing and Liang Liang enjoy their cakes.
Besides the ice cakes, the couple were also treated to their favorite fruits, other cakes made of eggs, soybean, corn, rice, corn oil and calcium powder. The pandas wasted no time finishing their treats and enjoying the attention they were getting.
In his remarks to mark the occasion, Abdul Wahid Abu Salim, deputy secretary-general of the Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Ministry, stressed the diplomatic importance that the pandas have continued to play.
“The giant pandas serve as a special envoy from China, fostering understanding and close cooperation between our nations… From its inception, this project has come to embody the close friendship and collaboration between Malaysia and China. It represents our shared commitment to preserving these magnificent creatures and their habitats for generations to come,” he said.
“Today’s celebration extends beyond the borders of giant panda conservation in Malaysia. Let us contemplate the broader implications of our collective efforts. May this project stand as a luminous example of international cooperation, inspiring us to collaborate not only for the well-being of these incredible creatures but also for the prosperity and understanding of our nations,” he added.
Zhang Jiexin, director of the China Cultural Center in Kuala Lumpur, said the primary goal of the panda cooperation in Malaysia is twofold: to promote research on panda reproduction and survival in both artificial and natural environments, and to spread knowledge about pandas, fostering a strong affection and support for panda conservation.
“Additionally, pandas serve as ambassadors of goodwill, strengthening the friendship between China and Malaysia,” he said.
For his part, Zoo Negara Deputy President Rosly Rahmat Ahmat Lana said the couple represented a significant success in conservation efforts, having given birth to three cubs over their stay in Malaysia.
“These pandas are not just an adorable icon, they are ambassadors of goodwill and symbols of the enduring friendship between our countries. They have captured our hearts and minds, bridging cultural divides and inspiring us to work together for a better future,” he said.
Meanwhile, Zoo Negara’s administration director Ahmad Nizam Zainudin told Xinhua that it is a great pleasure to take care of pandas. “The offer to become a giant panda caretaker at Zoo Negara brought me immense delight. One particularly beautiful memory revolves around the birth of the first panda cub, Nuan Nuan. It stands out as a moment of pure happiness for both the team and me. This feeling remained just as strong when Liang Liang gave birth to her second and third cubs.”
Xing Xing and Liang Liang, after arriving in Malaysia in 2014, delivered their first Malaysia-born giant panda cub Nuan Nuan on Aug. 18, 2015, while their second, Yi Yi was born on Jan. 14, 2018, and the third Sheng Yi was born on May 31, 2021. Nuan Nuan returned to China in November 2017 after turning two years old.