New panda couple at Indonesian zoo to get VIP treatment

Two pandas in a breeding research center in Chengdu, China. Source: Shutterstock

INDONESIAN President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping are set to personally inaugurate the opening of a panda exhibit at an Indonesian zoo.

Taman Safari Indonesia – a hugely popular safari park based in Bogor, West Java – will soon welcome the arrival of two giant pandas from China named Cai Tao and Hun Chun. They are on loan to Taman Safari for ten years for a breeding program.

The Indonesian government said that the pandas will arrive in the country on Thursday aboard a Garuda Indonesia cargo plane.

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The park’s marketing department has confirmed that the countries’ respective presidents will be in attendance at the giant panda enclosure’s grand opening, reported the Indonesian daily Kompas.

Taman Safari Indonesia calls itself a “wildlife conservation institution and theme park … set within one of Indonesia’s best natural environments.”

According to Taman Safari spokeswoman Triyoba Nataria, one of the pandas is expected to give birth in the second year of its time in Indonesia. Cai Tao and Hun Chun are expected to be on display to the public by the end of October or early November.

“This is a symbol of bilateral and peace relations between the two countries,” Triyoba said as quoted by Kompas.

Under Jokowi’s administration, Indonesia has drawn closer to China who seeks to invest in Southeast Asia’s largest economy through its Belt and Road initiative. Their attendance at the opening ceremony reflects symbolic importance of the panda breeding program for bilateral relations.

Poor conditions in Indonesian zoos have been under the spotlight of late, however, particularly regarding to live animal shows.

*This article first appeared on our sister site, Asian Correspondent.