Giant panda Ya Ya back on home soil, will spend a month in quarantine in Shanghai
Ya Ya, the giant panda who had spent 20 years at the Memphis Zoo in the United States, was back on home soil on Thursday after a 16-hour-long flight to Shanghai.
Ya Ya will spend one month in an air-conditioned quarantine area at the Shanghai Zoo, complete with an indoor living facility, outdoor sports stadium, and feed processing room, before returning to her birthplace, the Beijing Zoo.
Given her advanced age and the change in her living habitat, experts from Beijing Zoo will watch Ya Ya round the clock during the quarantine.
They will constantly monitor Ya Ya's health, provide her with appropriate food and nursing, and assist her in getting used to her surroundings.
Ya Ya was born in the Beijing Zoo on August 3, 2000. In 2003, she moved to America with a male giant panda named Le Le and began a new life at the Memphis Zoo in Tennessee.
According to CGTN, the zoo spent US$16 million to build a Chinese-style home for Ya Ya and Le Le.
The initial agreement allowed Ya Ya to stay in the United States for 10 years. At the end of the expiration period in 2013, the Memphis Zoo requested a 10-year extension, which was approved, according to CGTN.
In December last year, the Memphis Zoo announced that Ya Ya and Le Le would head back home to China at the end of the agreement.
Le Le, however, died in February at the age of 25 from heart disease, sparking concern among the public.
People kept a close check on Ya Ya's health. Many online videos claimed that Ya Ya was struggling with weight loss and skin issues.
China sent a team of experts to America to evaluate Ya Ya's health. They went over her monthly health and physical examination findings. Ya Ya's health was determined to be stable, with experts stating that she was shedding fur as a result of a skin problem.
In March, a group of Beijing Zoo staffers traveled to the United States to prepare for her return trip.
The Memphis Zoo held a farewell event for Ya Ya earlier this month, which was attended by hundreds of people.
It announced in a Twitter post on Wednesday that she had begun her journey back to China.
"Ya Ya is accompanied by Memphis Zoo's senior veterinarian and Chief Zoological Officer – together they possess over 25 years of giant panda experience. Our veterinarian will manage any medical concerns or needs, while our Chief Zoological Officer will manage all husbandry needs while en route," it said.
"After 20 years, Ya Ya has become like family to the Memphis Zoo staff and the local community, and she will be sorely missed by the Memphis Zoo staff and the local community. We wish her the best of luck in her new home."