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Leaving Bash for Ya Ya the Giant Panda Ahead of Return to China

A farewell party for Ya Ya the giant panda has been held at Memphis Zoo ahead of her departure back to China.

Highlighted by Chinese cultural performances, the send-off marked the end of a 20-year loan agreement with the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens.

About 500 people attended the event, which featured a demonstration by the Tennessee Happy Kung Fu School.

Ya Ya was born on 3 August 2000 in Beijing.

She was joined in Memphis under the loan agreement by Le Le, a male panda who was born on 18 July 1998 but died in February ahead of the pair’s planned return to China.

Ya Ya is expected to head back to China at the end of month, according to zoo spokesperson Rebecca Winchester.

The zoo says the pandas were key to research and conservation projects and helped people experience Chinese culture.

The life expectancy of a giant panda in the wild is about 15 years, but in captivity they have lived to be as old as 38.

Decades of conservation efforts in the wild and study in captivity saved the giant panda species from extinction, increasing its population from fewer than 1,000 at one time to more than 1,800 in the wild and captivity.

Advocacy groups In Defence of Animals and Panda Voices previously applauded the return to China, saying the pandas had been suffering in the zoo setting.

Zoo officials countered that the groups were spreading false information.

Source : SkyNews