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Moscow Zoo preparing for panda lovers to pour in

If there is a big flood of visitors, the zoo will introduce a special schedule for visiting the bears

MOSCOW, June 7. /TASS/. The Moscow Zoo is gearing up for a possible spike in the number of guests willing to view the newly-arrived panda pair from China, and may introduce a special schedule for visiting the bears, the zoo’s Director General Svetlana Akulova told TASS.

"Starting Thursday, the panda pavilion will be open to visitors. Now, no crowds have been spotted and people can watch the animals in rather comfortable conditions. However, we have also prepared for a rush. If there is a big flood of visitors, we will introduce a special schedule for visiting the bears," Akulova said.

A special schedule means free access to the pavilion between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. and certain restrictions after 10 a.m., and pandas will be able to have a half-an-hour rest between the visits. Panda admirers are supposed to register on the website, and volunteers will compile lists near the entrance to the zoo, she explained.

The zoo expects that the number of guests from China to climb. "Their numbers started growing on Thursday. Since the early morning, nine people out of ten that were in line were Chinese, even ordinary Chinese citizens are watching the pandas closely and asking about their health, because these animals are the unofficial symbol of China," the zoo’s head said.

No 'panda huggers'

The Moscow Zoo is not planning to employ "panda huggers," she said, explaining that there is no such a profession. "That’s a joke, pandas must not be hugged, they are wild animals with big claws and teeth."

She noted that the bear pair are very communicative and they have become attached to the zookeepers and are watching visitors with great interest. The female panda named Ding Ding sometimes loves posing for photos. The animals are active early in the morning and late in the evening, and they have a nap during lunch.

Ru Yi and Ding Ding

The young pandas, considered to be the unofficial symbol of China, were handed over by China to Russia during Russian President Vladimir Putin's April visit to Beijing. This event was dedicated to the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of establishing bilateral diplomatic relations. The official handover ceremony attended by Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping was held on June 5.

The pandas will spend 15 years in Russia as part of a joint research project aimed at studying the ways of preserving the animals and the possibility of returning them into the wild. For this, scientists need to learn about their diets, ensure breeding prospects and help them fight diseases.

The pandas were given their names at birth. Ru Yi means "wishes come true," and Ding Ding is similar to "the sound of falling drops." The representatives of the project’s working group said China had given permission to rename the animals. Now, Russia plans to launch a nationwide vote on renaming the pandas.

The bears’ favorite dish, bamboo, will be delivered to Moscow from Sichuan. On average, one big panda eats some 50 kg of bamboo per day, and the young pair will need some 700 kg per week. In the future, the task will be set to add new dishes to their diets, including Russian bamboo. The bears are also fond of apples and carrots.