KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's first locally-born giant panda headed to China yesterday, with officials bidding it a sad goodbye.
Two-year-old Nuan Nuan was born in Malaysia's national zoo in August 2015, a year after its parents arrived in the country on a 10-year loan from China.
In the wild, giant pandas can be found only in China's mountainous central regions where bamboo, their favourite food, grows in abundance. But as part of its policy of "panda diplomacy", Beijing loans the animals to countries worldwide.
Its agreement with Malaysia states that cubs born in captivity must be handed back at the age of two.
Nuan Nuan was placed inside a container yesterday and lifted into a Malaysia Airlines freighter for a 41/2-hour flight to Chengdu - home to a research base for giant panda breeding. It will be released into the forest after a period of acclimatisation.