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US-born pandas understand English but not Sichuanese after returning to China

(People's Daily Online)    13:22, November 17, 2016
US-born pandas understand English but not Sichuanese after returning to China
Meilun (left) and Meihuan

Meilun and Meihuan, two Chinese pandas born in the U.S., are gradually getting used to life back in China. However, they have not shed all their old habits; they still prefer American crackers to Chinese bread, and know English better than Chinese.

The pandas arrived at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding on Nov. 5. Meilun is very lively, often jumping onto the roof and hanging upside down from a rail. Unlike her elder sister, Meihuan is much calmer. She prefers to sit still and observe her new environment, occasionally snacking on bamboo.

Pandas are shy with strangers and need company, explained Luo Yunhong, a breeder at the panda base. Luo's main worry about the pandas' transition is that they both love American crackers so much that everything they eat - from bamboo to apples and even water - must be mixed with the crackers. To help them get used to food in China, Luo has been gradually replacing the crackers with Chinese bread.

Another problem is that Meilun and Meihuan cannot understand Sichuan dialect; only hearing their names can make them raise their heads. In contrast, they react to a number of basic words in English, such as "Come here".

Luo has been recording their stool samples and body temperatures every day, as well as providing daily updates to the Exit-Entry and Quarantine Bureau of Chengdu. According to the officer, the sisters are gradually getting used to their new lives. 

See also:

Sneaky panda cub stages 'prison break' by squeezing through metal bars of its enclosure

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