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Pairi Daiza twin pandas turn two – and prepare to leave mum and dad

14:34 09/08/2021

The twin panda cubs born at animal park Pairi Daiza have just celebrated their second birthday. It is a milestone for the young bears as they have now reached the age when they will move out of the family habitat and into their own.

In the wild, pandas leave their mothers and go solo from age two. The animal park in Hainaut province will make sure that siblings Bao Di et Bao Mei can do the same, providing them both with their own enclosures and weaning them away from their parents.

The pandas’ brother, five-year-old Tian Bao, already lives in his own habitat in another area of the park. Tian Bao, in fact, should have been sent back to China on his fourth birthday, according to an agreement with the Chinese authorities. But his return was interrupted by the corona crisis.

Temporary loan

Twins Bao Di and Bao Mei – a male and a female, respectively – will also have to be returned to China when they are four years old. While China used to gift pandas to other countries, they now ‘rent’ them, which is much more lucrative. Pairi Daiza’s panda pair Hao Hao and Xing Hui, the parents of all three of the pandas born at the park, are on loan for a total of 15 years. They are about  halfway through that stay.

The birth of all of the pandas was a boon for both the park – which passed the two million visitor mark in 2019 for the first time – and for the panda in general, which is an endangered species. Pandas do not mate easily, and Belgium was just the third country in Europe to ever welcome a baby panda.

Pandas are only native to China, and there are no real wild pandas left. The approximately 1,600 in China outside of zoos are in protected wildlife reserves.

Bao Di and Bao Mei celebrate their second birthday on Sunday at Pairi Daiza
©Virginie Lefour/BELGA


Written by Lisa Bradshaw