Allegedly abused by feeding only dead bamboo… Ya-Ya, a panda from the U.S., is under fire in China due to her severely emaciated body.
Gajigajigajigajigajigajigajigajigajigajigajigajig ……. A panda with tattered fur and obviously emaciated is single-mindedly chewing on a bamboo. It may be old bamboo, or it may be yellowing, but it doesn’t seem to care. It seems to be desperate to satisfy its hunger. In another scene, the panda is walking around in a small room, perhaps looking for food. Perhaps giving up, the panda eventually cowered with its head against the wall – and then it was time to go.
A video posted on the Chinese social networking site Weibo has caused a firestorm. The panda in the video is Yahya, 22, who lives at the Memphis Zoo in Tennessee, USA. The zoo is now facing allegations of panda abuse.
Yahya, a female panda, was sent to the Memphis Zoo in April 2003 together with Lor Lo, a male panda (24), and has lived there for about 20 years. The decision was made to return Yahya to China last December, but recently a video showing Yahya’s current condition was posted on social networking sites, and it was also revealed that Low Low had died suddenly in February of this year, which raised questions about the zoo’s husbandry practices.
The Chinese public was outraged by the tragic sight described at the beginning of this article, and social networking sites were filled with comments such as, “It’s so sad,” “He has been suffering like this for 20 years,” and “Please go pick him up immediately.
Are the allegations of abuse really true? This magazine asked the Memphis Zoo for an interview, but they refused to give us any information. We then contacted In Defense of Animals, an animal welfare organization that monitors the zoo, and received a shocking answer from Brittany Mitchelson, who is the most knowledgeable person about the situation at the zoo.
Yaya’s condition is clearly malnourished. We have also observed diarrhea and skin disease, and we suspect zoochosis, a condition in which animals in captivity exhibit abnormal behavior due to mental stress. Ya-Ya’s behavior of continually spinning around and around has been observed.
In ’21, we petitioned the zoo to provide better quality bamboo and bamboo shoots, but they did not respond. Lor Lo collapsed once in mid-January, but presumably was not treated properly and died two weeks later.”
Will Yahya be able to return safely to China?
From the March17, 2023issue ofFRIDAY
PHOTO： Kyodo News