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Let China pandas live in ‘natural habitat’, Thai critics urge as PM mulls loan

This Week in AsiaHealth & Environment

Thailand can’t ensure ‘happiness’ of pandas, critics say as PM Srettha mulls loan from China

Conservationists, netizens and a former minister oppose the plan, urging that any additional resources be instead channelled towards Thailand’s elephantsOthers say the era of ‘exchanging animals to enhance bilateral ties’ is over, pointing to the case of a Thai elephant gifted to Sri Lanka that was neglectedThailandSCMP’s Asia deskPublished: 5:24pm, 21 Sep, 2023Why you can trust SCMP

A former Thai minister has opposed Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s plan to loan a new giant panda from Beijing, saying the tropical kingdom lacks a conducive environment for the endangered species to thrive, and pandas are better off living in their country of origin.

Srettha last week said requesting for a panda as a goodwill ambassador would be on the agenda when he visits China next month.

But conservationist Kanchana Silpa-archa urged the government to reconsider its proposal given the high costs involved in raising a panda and instead spend the funds on upkeep of local animals such as elephants.

“I love pandas and all animals, and want to ensure their happiness,” Kanchana wrote on Facebook. “We did a great job raising Lin Hui, Chuang Chuang and Lin Bing at Chiang Mai zoo, but its panda zone is too limited.”

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