The agreement between Adelaide Zoo and the China Wildlife Conservation Association has been signed, thereby extending the loan of Giant Pandas Wang Wang and Fu Ni for five more years.
The two Giant Pandas will now stay at Adelaide Zoo until late 2024, delighting visitors and helping conservationists to learn more about this vulnerable species.
Speaking about the signing of the agreement, Zoos SA Chief Executive, Elaine Bensted says, “We are absolutely thrilled to announce that Wang Wang and Fu Ni will stay at Adelaide Zoo until late 2024.
Bensted continues, “The Giant Pandas are a huge draw card, helping people to connect with nature and learn about this incredibly special species.”
Under the new deal, Adelaide Zoo will receive funding from the South Australian Government to support its commitment to Giant Panda conservation.
This money goes directly towards Giant Panda research and breeding programs in China in exchange for the opportunity to have Wang Wang and Fu Ni in Adelaide.
“We’re really pleased with the agreement and we look forward to continuing to bring people from all over the country to see Wang Wang and Fu Ni over the next five years,” Bensted says.
To celebrate the five-year extension and to encourage people to come and see Wang Wang and Fu Ni, ticket prices to Adelaide Zoo will be slashed to $5 for children up to 15 years old and members can also bring a guest for $5 from 25 – 30 November 2019.
“Rather than ‘Black Friday’, we’re also gearing up to release a ‘Black and White Friday’ sale on Friday 29 November with amazing discounts on animal experiences, membership and retail items both online and in store,” says Bensted.
Director of Life Sciences at Adelaide Zoo, Dr Phil Ainsley, was happy to announce the deal was complete and said it was pleasing that the Giant Panda’s conservation status had improved during the past decade, from critical to vulnerable, indicating funding from zoos around the world was working.
“In 2016, the IUCN World Conservation Congress down-listed the Giant Panda to ‘vulnerable’. It’s very rare to see an animal improving in conservation status and Adelaide Zoo is incredibly proud to have played a global role in achieving that,” says Ainsley. “We are incredibly grateful to China for sharing the pandas with us; it has offered the unique opportunity to contribute to global panda research. We look forward to continuing to help Giant Panda conservation and gain a better understanding of pandas living in the Southern Hemisphere.”
While the agreement was being drawn, it was decided not to breed the pandas this year. Instead researchers collected urine samples from female panda Fu Ni both pre and post-ovulation. These samples gave the zoo valuable baseline data and greater insight into what impact being in the Southern Hemisphere may have on the pair’s ability to reproduce.
There are high hopes for Wang Wang and Fu Ni to become parents in the future and the plan is to attempt breeding again in the coming years with Wang Wang and Fu Ni at peak mating maturity.
The data collected from research this year will assist with future breeding attempts.
Wang Wang and Fu Ni arrived in Adelaide on a 10-year loan from the China Wildlife Conservation Association in 2009.
As a conservation charity, the Giant Panda breeding program is one example of the many local, national and international conservation programs that Zoos SA supports.
Wang Wang and Fu Ni play a key role in the future genetic diversity of the international breeding program.
They also act as ambassadors for all endangered species.
Stay tuned for updates.