Pressure Growing To Call Chinese Pandas Hong And Kong

These blind and almost hairless Panda twins are at the centre of a political row after a campaign was started to have them named Hong and Kong in protest at China’s crackdown on recent protests.

Berlin zoo’s resident panda mum surprised keepers when she gave birth to twins.

Video Credit: CEN/Zoo Berlin

Video Credit: CEN/Zoo Berlin

The zoo tweeted news of the event at the start of this month, saying: “Meng Meng our panda is a mum” and saying the fact that they ended up with twins instead of a single baby had left them “speechless”.

The notoriously difficult to breed panda is listed as “threatened” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List and wildlife populations are being backed up with over 400 pandas living in zoos around the world.

Credit: CEN/Zoo Berlin
Berlin zoo’s resident panda mum surprised keepers when she gave birth to twins

But China retains control of all its panda pairs, with offspring having to be sent back and contracts that insist all of the panda bears are only ever made available on loan. China is actually paid 400,000 EUR (358,000 GBP) per year for an adult panda by Berlin zoo.

China says the money is used for conservation projects to help pandas.

However, the tiny pandas, which are pink with a light coating of white hair and are blind, are now at the centre of controversy after a campaign was started to have them named after the embattled former British colony.

Video Credit: CEN/Zoo Berlin

Video Credit: CEN/Zoo Berlin

The Berlin-based Tagesspiegel said that pandas, because of their connection with their Chinese owners, were permanent diplomats for the country, and therefore it was important that they have appropriate names.

They noted that by far the most popular name suggestions that flooded into the editorial office was Hong and Kong, and the message was echoed by bestselling German newspaper Bild.

Credit: CEN/Zoo Berlin
The baby pandas have not been named. Berlin zoo director Andreas Knieriem, 54, admitted: “At the end of the day, China decides on how things go forward.”

They referenced the Tagesspiegel reader poll and added that the panda birth had an important political dimension because the new pandas were unwillingly being used as an instrument to win hearts and minds of people in the West and make them “blind to the country’s crimes.”

Signalling how important it was to make a stand on the issue, the paper added: “Bild has also named the mini pandas since their birth Hong and Kong, because the brutal politics of China is what is behind them. We (Bild) urge Germany to also use politics when reacting to the birth of these pandas. We would suggest that the Chancellor Angela Merkel let the Chinese leaders know in their homeland.”

Credit: CEN/Zoo Berlin
The baby pandas with Meng Meng their mother

They pointed out that today (Thursday) she was travelling with a trade delegation to Beijing.

However, whether this will happen remains unclear, after Berlin zoo director Andreas Knieriem, 54, admitted: “At the end of the day, China decides on how things go forward.”


To find out more about the author, editor or agency that supplied this story – please click below.
Story By: Michael LeidigSub-EditorJoseph Golder, Agency: Central European News


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