Zoos aren’t usually my thing, but the allure of the new Giant Panda Conservation Centre that is housed at Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur Negara Zoo, meant I just couldn’t leave the city without seeing the pandas for myself.
Launched in 2014 the state of the art conservation centre which is now home to two giant pandas, Feng Yi and Fu Wa, features three main exhibit areas and is kept at under 24°C to mimic their natural habitat. Other facilities in the colourful yellow and green complex include an exercise area, holding den, laboratory, veterinary clinic, incubator room and a monitoring room.
Seeing animals in captivity can be upsetting, however witnessing these spellbinding animals thriving and roaming lazily about, snacking on huge mounds of bamboo, free from bars and most importantly free from threat, is a truly unique experience and one I shall never forget.
The Panda Centre, unlike some other animal attractions in South East Asia, is completely void of cheap and cruel gimmicks. If you were expecting to pet a baby panda, take a picture alongside one or see them preform some kind of circus act then you have come to the wrong place. Here the pandas are respected. They are being safeguarded in the hope that these amazing animals stay on our planet a little longer. Before you enter the domed building you will be given a strict set of rules. You may take photos, but are forbidden to use the flash and you are expected to keep quiet in order to ensure optimum safety for both guests and the pandas, neither of which are separated by bars.
The moment I first laid eyes on the pandas I was taken aback. They were truly breathtaking. Huge, dexterous and sat so human like, at one in their new home, chomping their way through sticks of bamboo. Pandas need to eat huge amounts of bamboo each day due to its low nutritional values. The female of the two pandas also enjoyed the bamboo but was far more inquisitive than her male counterpart. She moved around her manmade home exploring the different height levels and taking in her audience, though seemingly unfazed and at ease. Ultimately the centre means that these two lucky pandas can now live out their days in peace, instead of fighting for survival.
If you are still a little sceptical about parting with your cash to see just two pandas then consider this…without the aid of conservation these magnificent, and adorably cute creatures will disappear, forever. Your donations mean the world to Feng Yi and Fu Wa, and together along with the people at Kuala Lumpur’s Negara Zoo we can all help in the fight to save the giant panda.