Millennium Post

US-born twin pandas struggle in China as they know only English

Two US-born giant panda twins, currently in China are struggling to adjust to the local food and language as they only know English, state-media reported on Thursday.

Three-year-old Meilun and Meihuan are struggling to follow Chinese, specially the Sichuan dialect as they can only understand English. They are gradually getting used to life in China after their arrival early this month.

However, they have not shed all their old habits; they still prefer American crackers to Chinese bread, and know English better than Chinese, state-run People’s Daily reported.

The pandas arrived at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding on November 5 from Atlanta Zoo. The twins were born in the US. Their mother, Lun Lun, gave birth to another set in September.

The giant pandas are on loan from China. As part of the agreement, all adult offspring are sent to China when they’re of age. Meilun is very lively, often jumping onto the roof and hanging upside down from a rail. Unlike her elder sister, Meihuan is much calmer. She prefers to sit still and observe the new environment, occasionally snacking on bamboo.

Pandas are shy with strangers and need company, explained Luo Yunhong, a breeder at the panda base.

Luo’s main worry about the pandas’ transition is that they both love American crackers so much that everything they eat – from bamboo to apples and even water – must be mixed with the crackers.

To help them get used to food in China, Luo has been gradually replacing the crackers with Chinese bread.

Another problem is that Meilun and Meihuan cannot understand Sichuan dialect; only hearing their names can make them raise their heads.

In contrast, they react to a number of basic words in English, such as “Come here”.

Luo has been recording their stool samples and body temperatures every day, as well as providing daily updates to the Exit-Entry and Quarantine Bureau of Chengdu. 
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