Pandas born in Belgium to go back to China

The three giant pandas born in recent years at the Pairi Daiza zoo in Hainaut will be returned to China to breed. This is reported in De Standaard on Wednesday.

No zoo outside China has ever had as many pandas as Pairi Daiza, but that will change this year. Tian Bao, born in 2016, and twins Bao Di and Bao Mei, born in 2019, are moving to China. Their parents, Xing Hui and Hao Hao, will remain in Brugelette for now.

"It's a dark end to our festive year," CEO Eric Domb told De Standaard. Pairi Daiza is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. "But we know that all baby pandas born abroad return to China. And we had the largest number of giant pandas outside China, with five. The oldest pandas still have a five-year contract."


In 2014, Domb brought Xing Hui and Hao Hao from China to Belgium. The fact that this honour went to Pairi Daiza and not to Antwerp Zoo was the subject of a controversy that took on communal dimensions.

Like the pandas' arrival, the preceding 'panda riot' made world headlines. The Antwerp Zoo had tried to get pandas a few years earlier, but failed. This led the Flemish party N-VA to suspect that the then-prime minister, Elio Di Rupo, was using his diplomatic contacts to favour his home region.

Success story

In any case, the pandas' presence in Pairi Daiza is a success story by any measure. Not only have the animals attracted more visitors and generated more revenue. The breeding programme has also been successful, with three offspring.

Zoos around the world are trying to breed giant pandas. But they reproduce very rarely, both in the wild and in zoos. Because of the low numbers of pandas in the wild, many breeding programmes aim to release pandas into reserves.


Pandas Bao Di and Bao Mei and mother Hao Hao celebrate their second anniversary at the Pairi Daiza animal park, Sunday 08 August 2021, in Brugelette. © BELGA PHOTO VIRGINIE LEFOUR

Illustration video shows one of the twin baby giant pandas born in August 2019 at the Pairi Daiza zoo in Brugelette. ​ ​

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