Indonesian safari park teaches wonderstruck visitors China's pandas more than just cute

Updated 2018-03-29 10:39:04 Xinhua

The education kits installed in Indonesia's giant panda exhibit have attracted visitors, particularly children, who were astonished at the form and anatomy of China's iconic creature.

The kits were installed in the hallway leading to the clean and neatly-designed panda enclosures.

The installation of the education kits in the panda exhibit was conducted by the Indonesia Safari Park, also known as Taman Safari Indonesia (TSI).

The kits are intended to deliver knowledge about pandas for the visitors, as the animal is different from those found in Indonesia, as well as in the TSI's animal collections.

The panda education kits are comprised of information boards on pandas dietary needs, their behavior in the wild and comparisons with other animals in the bear family.

A miniature set of panda research and hospital was also set there.

The kits conclude with a short movie that shows the pandas' activities and behavior in the wild.

It is played in a theater for the visitors before they entered the giant pandas' indoor and outdoor enclosures.

Ardita Widianti, a veterinarian who supervises the health of the giant pandas in the safari park, said the education kits are attracting visitors.

She said the visitors often ask for more detailed explanations from the attendants related to information displayed on the boards.

She added that pandas' thumbs are the piece of anatomy that the visitors are most curious about.

"Mostly they don't know that the panda has small thumbs, allowing it to hold tube-shaped bamboo tightly while they eat it. Because of its thumbs, pandas are capable of grasping things in the same way as humans," she told Xinhua.

The X-ray image of a panda's small thumbs were displayed in the research and hospital section, side by side with a human's.

Pandas' small thumbs are located a bit far from its five claws, making it perfectly effective for the panda to hold the bamboo, Ardita said.

Tari Safitri, a teenager who studies in elementary school, was surprised after receiving the information about the pandas' small thumbs.

The 10-year-old girl said that before getting the information at the panda exhibit, she only knew that pandas were cute and came from China.

"Now I know that pandas holds things like we do it. It makes me love these adorable animals more and more," Tari, who came with her family, said.

The giant panda couple, Cai Tao, the male and Hu Chun, the female, arrived in Indonesia in September last year with on a specially arranged flight from China's Chengdu.

Their presence in Indonesia was based on a 10-year breeding loan agreement with the Chinese government.

Ardita said the two pandas were in excellent health and had experienced no adverse conditions since their arrival.

She said a particular team, including veterinarians and keepers, was formed by the TSI to monitor the pandas' health conditions on a daily basis.

"I check their health every morning at 9:00 a.m. Besides checking every aspect of their external condition, I also check their mouths to ensure their gums and make sure the inside of their mouths have not been injured by sharp bamboo, or that fragments haven't been left between their teeth," said Ardita, who was sent by TSI to undergo training programs in several of China's panda conservation centers.

She added that all health check procedures in the panda exhibit follow the instructions of researchers in China's conservation centers.

Besides conducting routine health examinations, Ardita said her panda team is now tightly monitoring the female panda's behavior for signs of estrus.

If Hu Chun were to have a cub, it would be the first baby panda born in Indonesia.

"But the pandas' mating season is difficult to predict as estrus period is brief. It's not easy for them to breed," the veterinarian, a graduate from Indonesia's prominent Gajah Mada University, said.

She said that along with some of the keepers, she would leave for China in the near future to undergo another training course regarding the panda breeding program.

The two giant pandas live in a Chinese-style enclosure at the TSI, called Panda Castle, which is surrounded by bamboo plantations.

It is located in Cisarua, Bogor, West Java, around 71 km south of the Indonesian capital city of Jakarta.

The panda exhibit is situated 1,800 meters above sea level, which suits the pandas natural habitat in China.

Besides the giant pandas, the TSI also displays China's red pandas in a nearby enclosure.

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