Tow pandas' life in Australia

CNC report from Sydney
Added On June 19, 2013

Orphaned by the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in China's southwest Sichuan Province, two pandas named Wang Wang and Fu Ni, began a journey that would take them thousands of kilomteres to a new home in the south of Australia.

Lifestyles checked up on how they're doing down under.

"Here we are in Adelaide zoo to come and see the zoo's main attractions, Wang Wang and Funi, two beautiful Giant Pandas who've come over from Sichuan and who - everyone hopes - are going to soon breed the southern hemisphere's first giant panda baby cub. Lets go and have a look."

The giant panda is native to a few mountain ranges in central China, mainly in Sichuan province, but also in the Shaanxi and Gansu provinces.

It's a climate and a world far different to that of Adelaide zoo - home to more than 1,800 animals, and now also home for Wang Wang and Fu Ni, two very special residents with a very special mission to fulfill in 2013.

"I guess this year to us is probably more important than the last two years. There were very young animals attempting natural mating, getting them used to each other this year."

Visitor numbers jumped more than 75 per cent after Adelaide Zoo welcomed Wang Wang and Fu Ni.

"So people get very, very excited when they see the pandas for the first time and people will come back purely just to see the pandas. We get a lot of people come from inter-state just to see these beautiful guys."

"Because they're very rare, very unique and there's not many left and we're very lucky to have them in Adelaide.
I like pandas because they're beautiful they're very cute.
I think very lucky we are to have the pandas. It's a good bond between China and Australia."

The arrival of Wang Wang and Fu Ni from the ruins of their mountain home to the warmer climate of South Australia has turned a moment of loss into a shared joy.

Joy for both the people of South Australia and China.

SOUNDBITE: LEON BIGNALL, South Australia Minister for Tourism
"It has been fantastic, it's another addition to the zoo of course Australia has plenty of beautiful native animals but to have the pandas here everyone recognizes them, they're the symbol of the WWF, I mean they're just such majestic, beautiful creatures, they're just so typical of China so I think when people see our pandas they think of China we have visitors from around Australia to see them and indeed around the world."

"Now they say opposites attract, and if that's true, then there really is a great hope here in Adelaide zoo that Wang Wang - a little bit more rambunctious; a little bit of a naughty boy - is going to be able to attract Fu Ni who is more sedate; more gentle; more feminine  - and if everything works out hopefully produce the southern hemisphere's first baby panda cub."

Except for Australia's marsupials – such as the kangaroo – a giant panda baby is the smallest mammal newborn relative to its mother's size.

In fact newborn Giant Pandas only weigh  between 90 and 130 grams. That makes it hard for zookeepers to tell when a female is pregnant.

"The success rate of breeding pandas in captivity is quite low and it is common practice to do artificial insemination and we'll be doing that this year, which we are very, very excited about."

Certainly the response in Adelaide has been overwhelming and if goodwill plays a part in successful breeding, Fu Ni will be a mother by the southern hemisphere spring.

"The public have been fantastic for us. A lot of tourism came to South Australia to see the giant pandas in the southern hemisphere - but our public - they donate bamboo; and just generally hearing all the good, positive comments around here. I think Wang Wang and Fu Ni are becoming big parts of South Australia."

So with just a few short winter months to prepare, the people of South Australia are patiently hoping for good news.

SOUNDBITE: LEON BIGNALL, South Australia Minister for Tourism
"We'd like to see them do a little more breeding. We look at Wang Wang and Fu Ni and were hoping for some babies last year and hoping for this year."

Whatever happens, Wang Wang and Fu Ni represent more than nature under threat -- they're symbols of national friendship.