Friday, China celebrated the arrival of two pandas from the United States, Tai Shan and Mei Lan. The two pandas are being treated like the celebrities they are, and China is sparing no expense when it comes to making them comfortable in their new homes. That includes hiring a Chinese tutor for Mei Lan, the female panda born in a zoo in Atlanta.
Although she was born in the USA, her parents were loaned to the Atlanta Zoo by the Chinese government, and under the agreement, all giant pandas and their cubs must go home to China after a specified period of time.
In the Los Angeles Times, Huang Xiangming, director of the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding’s animal management department,explained that:
“Mei Lan has been living in the United States since she was born, and she must be unfamiliar with Chinese.”
In an article posted on China Daily, Cui Kai, a worker at the breeding center, said that:
“She will be taught Chinese with a Sichuan dialect. She will become familiar with some simple phrases. For example, she will be taught the phrases for returning to the cage or coming out from the dormitory.”
According to China Daily, 14 people have already applied for the job of teaching Chinese to the panda. The US sent back another panda, Tai Shan, on Friday as well. However, there is no need for a Chinese tutor for Tai Shan-he will be kept at the Bifengxia Base of China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda, and handlers there are bilingual, able to speak both English and Chinese.
Both pandas are expected to be introduced into the breeding program, and the Chinese government has set up a website to allow citizens to vote on a “boyfriend” for Mei Lan.