Thailand, China expected to renew panda loan contract

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CHIANG MAI, Sept 19 — China and Thailand have agreed to extend the contract lending pandas Lin Hui and Chuang Chuang to Thailand for another 10 years as Panda Ambassadors. They are expected to renew the agreement in November.

Chiang Mai Zoo Director Dr Karnchai Saenwong told the press at Chiang Mai Zoo earlier today of the progress toward a contract, noting that both China and Thailand have now primarily agreed on the draft of the new agreement.

The zoo has already presented the proposal to the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment for the minister to forward the proposal to the Cabinet for the final approval.

By November, representatives from both sides will be invited to ink the new contract, Dr Karnchai said.

Under the new agreement, according to Dr Karnchai, Thailand will give US$500,000 annually to China’s Animal Conservation Funds, up from the previous figure of $250,000 a year, for another 10 years or for as long the pandas are on loan to Thailand.

Other details of the contract, however, remained unchanged, said the zoo director.

Dr Karnchai said Chiang Mai Zoo will celebrate Lin Hui’s 13th birthday on September 28. The zoo’s research team has been keeping close watch on the panda, as she is still fertile, though there is no sign that she is in heat this year after having a miscarriage last year.

The research team said both pandas remained very healthy.