People calling for the urgent release of two “abused” pandas enclosed in a US zoo is mounting to more than 87,000.
Currently, YaYa and LeLe are encaged in Memphis Zoo and have been for almost two decades.
Animal rights campaigners claim they are “visibly distressed.” This is because they are malnourished with dental and skin problems, and suffer from “excessive” cage time.
Pandas trapped in zoo
Both are underfed their usual diet of bamboo, according to multiple animal rights organizations. This is in breach of basic panda care, they say.
One of the animals, 21-year-old YaYa, has undergone four miscarriages following artificial insemination procedures and is “extremely underweight.”
Despite experiencing two miscarriages, another procedure was performed on her in the same year. Yaya has also been suffering from a parasitic skin condition for seven years.
Campaigners say she is presenting “severe signs” of mental stress as a result of being in captivity. This is shown through repetitive zoochotic behavior, meaning the stereotypical behavior of animals trapped in zoos.
The other panda, LeLe, is 23. He also displays the tell-tale signs of mental agony, with webcams showing him playing with his tongue. Campaigners say this is due to a lack of enrichment in the enclosures.
87,000 call for return
The pair were shipped from Beijing, China, in 2003. Now, two scaling petitions are calling for them to be retired so they can return home.
Fleur Dawes is the communications director for In Defence Of Animals. In a statement sent to PBN, they said: “Anyone watching the Memphis Zoo webcam can see these pandas are in crisis.
“We’re calling on Memphis Zoo CEO Jim Dean to stop the torture of YaYa and LeLe and send them back to China where they can be nursed back to health, eat suitable food, and live as pandas should.”
According to Panda Voices, “urgent measures” are needed to protect them. A representative for the organization, which is made up of panda fans across the globe, said Memphis Zoo is yet to respond to their calls.
And Beijing Zoo has been unable to make contact either, despite requesting for the animals to be flown back.
You can sign the petition via Change.org here
Additionally, you can support the In Defence of Animals calls here