Finland plans to return pandas to China ahead of time

The Finnish zoo is preparing to return a pair of pandas lent by China ahead of time because it can no longer afford to take care of them.

Pandas named Lumi and Pyry were brought to Finland in January 2018, nine months after Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the Nordic country and signed a joint agreement to protect the animals. .

Ahtari Zoo, which privately adopted the pandas in the hope that they will help attract more visitors, now says it is saddled with mounting debts as a result of the travel restrictions. Covid-19.

The Finnish government in 2021 used to support Ahtari Zoo about $ 217,000, but rejected the zoo’s application for a subsidy of more than $ 5.4 million. Finnish authorities are currently considering the option of returning Lumi and Pyry to China before the end of the 15-year loan term.

Panda Lumi at the Ahtari Zoo, Finland, in February 2018.  Photo: Reuters.

Panda Lumi at the Ahtari Zoo, Finland, in February 2018. Photo: Reuters.

The decision was made after several members of the Finnish parliament pointed out that the amount of money supporting Ahtari Zoo to keep a pair of pandas is more than the amount the country spends every year to protect some endangered species. extinction of his country.

The Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had set up a working group to find a solution.

“If the pandas are returned, we believe that China will understand it as a business decision by a private company in a difficult financial situation. We do not think this move will have a major impact on the situation. Finnish-Chinese relations,” said a spokesman for the Finnish Foreign Ministry.

China has not yet responded to the information.

Panda diplomacy is China’s policy to promote diplomatic relations through the donation or lending of pandas. China’s modern panda diplomacy is said to have begun in 1972 when the country presented two pandas to the US.

Ngoc Anh (Theo Reuters)

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