Feature: Giant pandas an ongoing signature of 50 years of China-Mexico friendship

Updated: February 20, 2022 Source: Xinhua News Agency
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MEXICO CITY, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- With a yellowed newspaper in hand, Fernando Gual Sill recalled when the first giant pandas from China arrived in Mexico almost five decades ago as a symbol of friendship between the two countries.

"It was big news," Gual Sill, general director of Mexico City's public zoos, told Xinhua. The September 1975 newspaper and a photo album are treasures he has carefully tended.

That year, China gifted Mexico with a pair of giant pandas: a male named Pe Pe and a female named Ying Ying, who made their new home at the Chapultepec Zoo in Mexico City.

"When they arrived they were just cubs," Gual Sill said. "At the time, not much was known about pandas in zoos or how they reproduced. We were fortunate that a few years later, giant pandas were born in Mexico City."

To preserve the species in Mexico, experts from the two countries have collaborated closely and conducted academic exchanges.

"Several Mexican veterinarians traveled to China for academic and training visits, including for medical, geriatric and offspring care, and reproduction, which were key," the expert said.

Pe Pe and Ying Ying turned out to be one of the most prolific panda couples in the world, breeding seven offspring in captivity.

Currently, two females -- Shuan Shuan, born in 1987, and Xin Xin, born in 1990 -- live at Chapultepec and they are the longest living giant pandas in captivity outside China.

Gual Sill confirmed that the pandas are the stars of the zoo, with thousands of people visiting and getting to know the Chinese species and Mexican offspring.

For the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Mexico on Feb. 14, Gual Sill invited Chinese friends to the zoo's giant panda pavilion to celebrate together.

Javier Ojeda, a member of the veterinary team at the zoo, said the pandas represent the friendship between the two countries because reproduction and conservation could not have been successful without both individual and governmental collaboration.

"It's a privilege to work with this species," Panda keeper Elias Garcia Ramirez, who has over 20 years of experience, told Xinhua, adding that he considers the pandas part of his family since he spends most of his time with them and has a close emotional connection with them.

Editor: Yang Yifan