KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Visitors crowded Malaysia's Zoo Negara on Saturday (July 22) to see Nuan Nuan, the one-year-old panda which would leave for China on Aug 18 - her date of birth.
Nuan Nuan (which means warmth) is the first Malaysian-born panda cub.
Bus technician Sharini Ahmad, 36, and his wife Hairiyati Masdar, 32, took their eight-year-old daughter and five-year-old son to the zoo yesterday to bid farewell to Nuan Nuan.
"We have brought the children here many times but this is the first time they are seeing the pandas," said Sharini.
Nuan Nuan was born within 15 months of the arrival of Xing Xing and Liang Liang in Malaysia on a 10-year loan.
They came on May 21, 2014, to mark the 40th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Malaysia and China.
Last week, the Government said that Nuan Nuan would be sent to a panda sanctuary in Sichuan next month, explaining that the Giant Panda Conservation Centre at Zoo Negara would need to be expanded if Nuan Nuan remained here longer.
There is also a US$600,000 (S$817,383) fee and other expenses.
Those who visited Nuan Nuan on Saturday included an Indian couple, Divya Jain and her husband Sarthi Longani, both 28, who flew from Hyderabad to Malaysia for the first time on Friday.
"We came here just to see her (Nuan Nuan)," said Divya, adding that they found out from Facebook about the panda's impending departure to China.
"It's our first time seeing a panda so we are super excited," said Divya.
Chin Chet Mooi, a volunteer at the Giant Panda Conservation Complex, said she is looking forward to visiting Nuan Nuan in China.
"She has never seen other panda cubs. I am keen to see how she interacts with other cubs in China," said Chin.
Zoo Negara deputy president Rosly @ Rahmat Ahmat Lana, who said that he was sad about the panda's departure, added that a wild panda cub would usually leave its mother between 18 and 24 months after birth.
"They separate naturally, otherwise they will fight. Pandas are solitary animals," he said.
He said Nuan Nuan's parents are kept in separate compounds and only meet three times a year to mate.
"Even then, they are together for 10 to 20 minutes only for each session," said Rosly.
Three veterinarians and three keepers look after the pandas here with the guidance of a Chinese expert.