Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat :

Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : China to Replace Australia's Popular Giant Pandas

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 16: Wang Wang the panda chews a box as South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas and China's Premier Li Qiang listen to a Zoo ranger at Adelaide Zoo on June 16, 2024 in Adelaide, Australia. Asanka Ratnayake/Pool via REUTERS
ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 16: Wang Wang the panda chews a box as South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas and China's Premier Li Qiang listen to a Zoo ranger at Adelaide Zoo on June 16, 2024 in Adelaide, Australia. Asanka Ratnayake/Pool via REUTERS
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China to Replace Australia's Popular Giant Pandas

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 16: Wang Wang the panda chews a box as South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas and China's Premier Li Qiang listen to a Zoo ranger at Adelaide Zoo on June 16, 2024 in Adelaide, Australia. Asanka Ratnayake/Pool via REUTERS
ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 16: Wang Wang the panda chews a box as South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas and China's Premier Li Qiang listen to a Zoo ranger at Adelaide Zoo on June 16, 2024 in Adelaide, Australia. Asanka Ratnayake/Pool via REUTERS

China will loan Australia new "adorable" giant pandas to replace a popular pair that failed to produce offspring in more than a decade together, visiting Premier Li Qiang announced Sunday.

Adelaide Zoo has been home to Wang Wang and Fu Ni since 2009 when they were loaned by China as part of a global preservation scheme that also serves as a tool of "panda diplomacy".

Breeding panda cubs is a notoriously difficult task for the low-sexed creatures and hopes of a pregnancy in Adelaide, including through the use of artificial insemination, have been repeatedly dashed.

As one of the furry giants played with a strip of tree in the background, Li delivered the news that they will be going home.

"Wang Wang and Fu Ni have been away from home for 15 years -- I guess they must have missed their home a lot -- so they will return to China before the end of the year," the premier said, according to Agence France Presse.

"But what I can tell you is that we will provide a new pair of equally beautiful, lovely and adorable pandas as soon as possible."

China would provide Australia with candidates to choose from, said Li, who landed in Adelaide on Saturday on a four-day fence-mending trip after Beijing withdrew a string of trade sanctions on major Australian exports.

The announcement is a nod to Foreign Minister Penny Wong's efforts to stabilize Australia's relationship with China, following a diplomatic rift with the former conservative government.

Li said he remembered the Australian foreign minister had twice reminded him during a visit to Beijing last November that the panda loan agreement would expire later this year.

"We have made this announcement to fulfil the wishes of the minister," he said.

Adelaide is Wong's hometown, and she said her own children would be "very happy" at the news.

"It's good for the economy, it's good for South Australian jobs, it's good for tourism and it's a symbol of goodwill, and we thank you," she said.

There are an estimated 1,860 giant pandas left in the wild, according to environmental group WWF.

But the animals, which were removed from the International Union for Conservation of Nature's endangered species list in 2016, still face serious threats from loss of habitat and fragmentation.



Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Whale Surfaces, Capsizes Fishing Boat off New Hampshire Coast

The incident occurred Tuesday near Odiorne Point State Park.  (file photo/The AP)
The incident occurred Tuesday near Odiorne Point State Park. (file photo/The AP)
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Whale Surfaces, Capsizes Fishing Boat off New Hampshire Coast

The incident occurred Tuesday near Odiorne Point State Park.  (file photo/The AP)
The incident occurred Tuesday near Odiorne Point State Park. (file photo/The AP)

Two occupants of a fishing vessel are safe Tuesday after a whale surfaced under their boat, capsizing it off the New Hampshire shore, according to the US Coast Guard.

The incident occurred Tuesday near Odiorne Point State Park. The Coast Guard posted to X that they had received a mayday call stating that a 23-foot center console boat had turned over because of a whale breach, The AP reported.

“The occupants were ejected from the vessel as the boat capsized,” the Coast Guard posted, adding that an urgent marine information broadcast was issued and the Coast Guard Station Portsmouth Harbor was alerted.

“A good Samaritan recovered both individuals from the water. No injuries were reported,” the Coast Guard posted.

The boat crew from Station Portsmouth reported that the whale appeared not to be injured. The incident was reported to the Center of Coastal Studies Marine Animal Hotline and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The vessel has also been salvaged.