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Thailand says China extends panda cub loan

07 april 2011, 11:13
China will allow Thailand to keep for two more years a giant panda cub with millions of fans and her own reality television show in the kingdom, AFP reports citing a Thai official.

Linping, who is one year and 10 months old, was the first giant panda cub to be born in Thailand, following years of artificial insemination and efforts to encourage her parents to mate at Chiang Mai zoo in the country's north.

China provided Linping's parents on a 10-year loan in 2003. Linping also officially belongs to China and was on an initial two-year loan that was due to expire on her second birthday in May.

Chinese parliamentary leader Wu Bangguo told visiting Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn that Linping would be allowed to stay until 2013, Prasertsak Boontrakulpoontawee, head of Thailand's panda project, told AFP.

Linping is a national star in Thailand. A live 24-hour "Panda Channel" follows her every move, while a competition to name her in 2009 attracted 22 million entries.

Her name means "forest of ice" in Chinese and is based on her mother's name Linhui (beautiful forest) and the name of the Ping River in Chiang Mai.

Giant pandas, notorious for their low sex drive in captivity, are considered endangered -- about 1,600 pandas are believed to survive in the wild in China.

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