Giant Pandas are famous for being absolutely adorable and are an animal that tourists love to see. It’s well known that these remarkable animals originate from Asia, and they are under a vulnerable status, leaving tourists wondering, are there any in Thailand?
Yes, there is one Giant Panda in Thailand in the Chiang Mai Zoo. They used to have three pandas, but one passed away, and the other returned to China. Prehistoric Giant Pandas also populated Thailand’s forests in the past, as shown by fossils found in Lampang.
Related: Are There Bears In Thailand?
Were There Pandas In Thailand In The Past?
The Giant Panda, scientifically known as Ailuropoda Melanoleuca, is native to China. Still, during its evolution through the Ice Age, prehistoric pandas populated an extensive area of Asia, including northern parts of Thailand. Due to evolutionary weather changes, the population declined.
All the prehistoric pandas in low-laying areas disappeared and only survived in the more northern parts of Asia, where they evolved into the Giant Pandas we know today. Although the modern panda isn’t native to the country, they have a history in Thailand.
What Happened To The Pandas That Were In Thailand?
In 2003, two pandas got placed in the Chiang Mai Zoo as a loan from China. Their names were Lin Hui, a lady Giant Panda, and Chuang Chuang, a male. They had a baby panda in 2009 named Lin Bing.
Sadly, Chuang Chuang passed away in 2019 naturally due to a heart attack, even though China suspected mistreatment. Lin Bing moved back to China in 2013, after Thailand’s contract ended, and was rumored to return but has not to this day. Lin Hui remains in Thailand and recently turned 21.
Is There A Panda Diplomacy In Thailand?
Panda Diplomacy is a contract with the Chinese government where they send Giant Pandas to a country to influence diplomacy, which is an occurrence that affects another country’s affairs. Pandas used to get gifted under this agreement, but now they are leased.
Diplomacy is the reason Lin Bing got returned to China. Thailand obtained its Pandas under Panda Diplomacy. Initially, Thailand’s contract with China got for Lin Bing was set to be for two years, but China was kind enough to let Thailand lease her for another two.
Panda lease agreements are costly, rumored to be one million dollars a year! Lin Hui is kept under this agreement and is Chiang Mai Zoo’s most popular attraction. Thai people love pandas, so the Thai population contributes to Chiang Mai’s tourism, hopefully bringing in enough money.
Can Tourists Visit Pandas In Thailand?
If tourists want to see a Giant Panda, they can visit Lin Hui at the Chiang Mai Zoo, located in the Chiang Mai province in Thailand. Tourists can take photos of her, but there is a strict no-flash photography rule, and people must wear masks to protect the panda’s health.
Are Pandas In Thailand Dangerous?
Giant Pandas are known to have friendly personalities and behave in silly manners, leaving tourists thinking they are safe to be around and cuddle. While pandas’ diets are 99% bamboo, they are still bears and can cause serious harm if people aren’t careful.
Although cases of being harmed by pandas are tremendously rare, tourists have tried their luck in the past in China by entering panda enclosures unwarranted and have paid the price. If you get bitten by a panda bear, you’ll suffer from terrible wounds and likely need skin grafts.
People should always remember that pandas are wild animals; if they feel threatened, they attack people, and pandas don’t take unexpected visitors kindly.
Are Pandas In Thailand Protected?
Pandas are difficult for zoos to obtain, and even their enclosures are expensive to set up, so pandas are ultra-protected. Any foul play or harm done unto a panda will cause extreme repercussions from China as part of their panda diplomacy agreement.
Even the pandas’ health gets safeguarded! In 2007 Chuang Chuang was overweight, so it was big news that the keepers at Chiang Mai put him on a diet. The fact that he was overweight meant he could not mate and would cause him major health problems.
Furthermore, when Chuang Chuang passed away in 2019, there was heavy speculation from China because pandas are supposed to live up to 30 years old in captivity, and he was only 19.
There was massive media coverage and backlash on the zoo, but the autopsy showed that he was healthy; unfortunately, it was an unexpected heart attack. After they found out the cause, all got forgiven, but the Chinese public still wasn’t happy.
Because Pandas are vulnerable to extinction, they get covered by the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act. Thailand is known to struggle with illegal traders selling animal parts, but since pandas are protected by legislation, anybody caught in this act will be prosecuted.
Are Pandas Popular In Thailand?
Thailand’s people adore Giant Pandas. People from all over the country make an effort to travel to Chiang Mai and visit the zoo to see Lin Hui. Lin Bing was especially popular in Thailand due to being the third panda born outside of China.
Lin Bing became a celebrity in Thailand and even had his own Thai television channel dedicated to him where people could watch him play and go about his daily activities. There were parades celebrating his birth, as well as his birthdays spent in Thailand.
It is extremely common to see panda merchandise all over Thailand, especially in Chiang Mai. Panda merchandise is seen on T-shirts, posters, and even bumper stickers. The city of Chiang Mai often hosts parades; almost without fail, someone will wear a panda costume!
What Is The Cultural Significance Of Pandas In Thailand?
Pandas don’t fall part of any cultural significance per se, as it does not show up in Buddhist culture, but Thai people are known to love pandas and celebrate them. Lin Bing is a Thai celebrity with many adoring fans awaiting his return to the Chiang Mai Zoo.