Chinese pandas arrive in Denmark to mixed response

An opinion poll has found that just under 50 percent of people are pleased that Copenhagen Zoo is now home to two Chinese pandas.

Chinese pandas arrive in Denmark to mixed response
Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Mao Sun and Xing Er completed their journey from China to the Danish capital earlier this week, the culmination of years of planning and the construction of a special enclosure at Copenhagen’s Zoo.

The public was able to visit the pandas for the first time on Thursday.

According to a poll of 1,115 representative individuals conducted by Voxmeter, just under half of people in Denmark agree with the decision to bring the pandas to the country.

In the poll, respondents were asked whether Denmark should have accepted the two pandas from China. 49.4 percent answered yes, while 30.4 percent gave the opposing response.

The pandas still belong to China, as do any cubs they might produce in future.

Their arrival has met with both excitement and criticism.

Critics include the Tibet Support Committee, a Danish organisation committed to improving conditions for the Tibetan people. The committee argues that, by accepting the pandas from China, Denmark is collaborating with a country that has violated the rights of Tibetans.

Protestors with Tibetan flags outside Copenhagen Zoo on Thursday. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Others do not see the pandas as a political issue. The poll found that 50.3 percent did not consider the bears’ presence at Copenhagen Zoo as affecting the Danish government’s ability to criticise China. 36.9 percent said it was a factor.

Just over half of those asked, at 52 percent, felt that the agreement for Denmark to loan the pandas would improve business opportunities between the two countries.

Although the zoo hopes to improve ticket sales with its new guests, their immediate impact was moderate, according to a spokesperson for the attraction.

“There are a few more visitors than normal for a Thursday, but I don’t think we’ll break any records today,” head of press relations Jacob Munkholm Hoeck said on Thursday afternoon.

READ ALSO: Copenhagen Zoo starts work on new panda enclosure

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Escaping lockdown: Panda breaks out at Copenhagen Zoo

Humans are not the only ones tiring of confinement during the coronavirus pandemic -- a panda escaped from his enclosure at Copenhagen Zoo on Monday.

Escaping lockdown: Panda breaks out at Copenhagen Zoo
Mads Claus Rasmussen / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP
Xing Er, a six-year-old male panda — soon to be seven — then took a tour of the zoo, which was closed at the time.
He was spotted on a surveillance video “leaving his enclosure, slipping under an electric fence”, zoo spokesman Jacob Munkholm Hoeck told AFP.   
The animal wandered around the zoo until an employee noticed it and called a security team.
“The veterinarian of the zoo anaesthetised the panda and he was brought back to the enclosure,” Hoeck said.
“There he was given an antidote and woke up a couple of minutes later.”
Xing Er was not harmed and there were no human injuries. 
Bengt Holst, the zoo's chief scientist, said in a statement that security around the enclosure will be “carefully examined” to “make sure (it) doesn't happen again”.
Xing Er and his female mate Mao Sun — who did not take part in his escape — arrived in Denmark in April 2019, on loan from the Chinese city of Chengdu.   
They are a part of the “panda diplomacy” programme set up by China which consists of lending pandas in order to foster relations with trading partners.