Pandas Wang Wang and Fu Ni to stay in Adelaide zoo under Labor plan

PM criticises opposition’s pledge for five years’ more funding, saying his priority right now is Queensland’s floods

A Labor government would spend $1.3m a year for Adelaide zoo to keep two giant pandas that have failed to produce any offspring since their arrival at the zoo almost 10 years ago.

The opposition committed on Sunday to five years of funding for Wang Wang and Fu Ni, who have been on loan from China, if elected this year.

But the prime minister, Scott Morrison, criticised the timing of the announcement, saying his focus was on the destruction caused by Queensland’s floods.

“I have been talking to [South Australian premier] Steven Marshall about this, but I’ll simply say this: my priority at the moment actually – with all due respect to people in South Australia and pandas – is cattle lying dead on properties in north Queensland,” he told reporters at a press conference in Burnie, Tasmania.

“That’s where my focus is right now. If the Labor party wants to focus on pandas, that’s fine. I’m focused on dead cattle on the ground in north Queensland.”

At an announcement in Adelaide, Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman, Penny Wong, said the pandas were a tourism drawcard for Adelaide and keeping them would be good for Australia’s bilateral relationship with China.

“Wang Wang and Fu Ni are one of our most popular attractions. South Australian kids, Australian kids, kids from around the world who come here with their families, love the pandas,” she said.

“And we know that without funding, unfortunately the pandas would have to go home in November.”

Later on Sunday, she said it was “appalling that Mr Morrison is playing politics with the terrible floods in Queensland”.

“We all stand with those affected by these disasters and he knows that,” she said. “If he actually listened to South Australians he might understand why today’s announcement matters to our community and to our tourism industry.”

From 2015 to 2019, the government committed $9.1m for the breeding program.

The amount is nearly double what it committed for its recovery fund for Australian threatened species. The government claims it has spent more than $255m in total on Australian threatened species protection and recovery.

Last September the zoo suspected Fu Ni was pregnant after two artificial inseminations. Attempts to get the couple to mate during last year’s 36-hour fertility window were unsuccessful.

“It’s quite possible Fu Ni was at one stage pregnant but the window has now passed during which time she would have given birth,” said the zoo’s SA senior veterinarian, Ian Smith. “Hormonal and behavioural signs indicate she experienced either pseudo pregnancy or an unsuccessful pregnancy.”

Contributor

Lisa Cox

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Adelaide tram project: Labor pledges to create jobs with $500m for first stages
AdeLINK is estimated to cost $3bn and needs a positive assessment from Infrastructure Australia to get go ahead

Paul Karp

17, May, 2016 @3:06 AM

Article image
NSW records 89 new cases and one death as Morrison announces Covid support package – as it happened
Follow live

Lisa Cox (now) and Ben Smee, Elias Visontay and Matilda Boseley (earlier)

13, Jul, 2021 @8:56 AM

Article image
Labor presses Coalition on independent inquiry – as it happened
Prime minister grilled in parliament; Queensland calls on Canberra to consider Covid vaccine rollout in PNG. This blog is now closed

Mostafa Rachwani and Amy Remeikis

15, Mar, 2021 @8:14 AM

Article image
New national hotel quarantine worker testing rules announced – as it happened
SA introduces ‘wide-ranging restrictions’ from midnight on Wednesday; $200 vouchers for Victorians to spend in regional areas. This blog is now closed

Calla Wahlquist and Matilda Boseley (earlier)

18, Nov, 2020 @8:32 AM

Article image
"Global supply shock' to affect Australian supplies – as it happened
Move to suspend trans-Tasman arrangement for 72 hours prompted by Covid variant case in Auckland. Also, late February Pfizer vaccine rollout planned. This blog is now closed

Mostafa Rachwani (now) and Calla Wahlquist (earlier)

25, Jan, 2021 @9:52 AM

Article image
Two more deaths in New South Wales after state records 145 new infections – as it happened
Follow latest updates live

Naaman Zhou (now) and Matilda Boseley and Mostafa Rachwani (earlier)

26, Jul, 2021 @8:33 AM

Article image
Six Victorian prisons in lockdown after worker tests positive – as it happened
Scott Morrison announces jobkeeper payment to be reduced to $1,200 a fortnight and jobseeker reduced from $550 to $250. This blog is now closed

Elias Visontay and Calla Wahlquist

21, Jul, 2020 @9:34 AM

Article image
Today's campaign: Newspoll hands Coalition its best result in 14 weeks
Election 2016: The Coalition campaign launch may not have drawn rave reviews but Malcolm Turnbull will be happy nonetheless

Helen Davidson

26, Jun, 2016 @9:16 PM

Article image
Mathias Cormann reveals last-minute timing of Newstart backdown – as it happened
Prime minister on the campaign trail in Queensland as Mathias Cormann refuses to tell Penny Wong the cost of the Coalition government’s advertising

Amy Remeikis

08, Apr, 2019 @5:51 AM

Article image
Australian stock market falls 5.6%, NRL suspends 2020 season – as it happened
Australian Olympic Committee says national team can’t be assembled for 2020 Tokyo Games; MyGov not targeted in cyber attack, just overwhelmed. This blog is now closed

Calla Wahlquist (now) and Amy Remeikis (earlier)

23, Mar, 2020 @12:07 PM