Pandas to depart for China next month amid thanks

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Eimei is seen at Adventure World in Shirahama, Wakayama Prefecture.

SHIRAHAMA, Wakayama — Giant pandas Eimei, Ouhin and Touhin will leave their current home at a theme park in Shirahama, Wakayama Prefecture, in February to take up residence in China. The pandas will live in a Sichuan Province facility that mainly studies reproduction in the species.

Eimei, a male, came to Shirahama’s Adventure World theme park from China in 1994. Since 2001, he has had a total of 16 cubs with two female pandas at the park.

In 2020, Eimei’s 16th cub, Fuhin, was born. As he was 28 years old at the time, Eimei broke the world age record among pandas for having a cub as a result of natural mating. He turned 30 in September this year, which in human years would make him 90 years old.

Ouhin and Touhin, both female, were born from Eimei and Rauhin in 2014. Though they have reached reproductive age, none of the park’s resident pandas would make suitable partners for them, so mating partners will be sought for them in China.

Ahead of the departure of the three pandas, Adventure World will quarantine the bears from mid-January to check their heath status. During the period, visitors will only be able to see the pandas through glass walls in the park’s breeding center.

Four female pandas will remain in the theme park after the scheduled transfer, and park officials are negotiating with the Chinese side for the delivery of a new male panda.

Shirahama Mayor Makoto Itani issued a statement saying, “I offer my gratitude to Eimei for his reproductive successes and contributions to tourism promotion.”