Two young giant-panda twins born in the United States have returned home to China, but they are struggling to adapt to the food and language.
The three-year-old sisters, Mei Lun (美轮) and Mei Huan (美奂), were the first surviving panda twins to be born in the United States, and were returned to China from Zoo Atlanta on November 5. They understand English better than Chinese, and prefer American crackers (薄脆饼干) to Chinese bread.
Luo Yunhong, a breeder at the Chengdu Giant Panda Research Base (成都大熊猫繁育研究基地), said that his main concern is that the pair are so addicted to American crackers that everything they eat—from bamboo to apples—has to be mixed with crackers. They even want to snack on crackers when drinking water.
Luo is trying to help the pandas get rid of their cracker habit, gradually replacing the American food with Chinese bread. Mei Huan is adapting, but Mei Lun doesn’t want to touch the unfamiliar bread.
Mei Lun is the livelier of the two, often jumping onto the roof and hanging upside down from a rail, but her slightly younger sister Mei Huan is calmer, preferring to sit still, observe her new environment and occasionally snack on bamboo.
A language barrier is also reported. While the pair respond to their own names, and understand some English phrases such as “come here,” they don’t understand the Sichuan dialect of Chinese.
The news provoked some amused reactions on Chinese social media, with some users commenting that the pandas would soon get used to Sichuan’s famously spicy cuisine.