Giant Panda Ya Ya returns to Shanghai tomorrow, from the US

Lu Feiran
On loan to the Memphis Zoo, Ya Ya the giant panda will be returning to China tomorrow after spending 20 year's in the US. Procedures have been taken to ensure a safe journey.
Lu Feiran

Giant panda Ya Ya will be back in China from the United States as scheduled, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday.

Transport programs, airlines and emergency measures have been prepared to ensure a safe journey for the 22-year-old female panda to return home. But the ministry didn't specify the flight time.

Giant Panda Ya Ya returns to Shanghai tomorrow, from the US

Giant panda Ya Ya at the Memphis Zoo in this undated file photo.

Meanwhile, Beijing Youth Daily reported that Ya Ya will take FedEx Flight FX9759, which will take off from Memphis International Airport early Thursday morning (Beijing time) and arrive at Shanghai Pudong International Airport at around 5pm on Thursday.

The "lease" that sent Ya Ya to the Memphis Zoo in Tennessee about 20 years ago expired on April 7. The zoo said earlier this year that Ya Ya has a "skin and fur condition."

In March, two veterinarians and panda specialists from Beijing Zoo, where Ya Ya was born in 2000, arrived in Memphis to take care of the panda. She has been trained to adapt to the environment of the transport cage, to prepare for the journey.

Ya Ya was "leased" to the Memphis Zoo, along with male panda Le Le, when she was 32 months old. The original 10-year agreement was extended for another decade.

The zoo announced last December that the two pandas would return to China. The death of 25-year-old Le Le in February sparked much anxiety in China and spurred calls for Ya Ya's immediate return.

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