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.



Saudi Team Wins 6 Awards at 2024 International Mathematical Olympiad in UK

Saudi Team Wins 6 Awards at 2024 International Mathematical Olympiad in UK
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Saudi Team Wins 6 Awards at 2024 International Mathematical Olympiad in UK

Saudi Team Wins 6 Awards at 2024 International Mathematical Olympiad in UK

Under the auspices of the King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity "Mawhiba" and the Ministry of Education, the Saudi mathematics team won six awards at the 65th International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) 2024 held in the UK from July 15 to 21.

The event featured 603 talented students from 104 countries, with the Saudi team securing 1 silver medal, 4 bronze medals, and 1 certificate of appreciation.

Hadi Al-Aithan from the Al-Ahsa education department won the silver medal, while Youssef Bakheet (Yanbu education department), Mohammed Rabie (Madinah education department), Muath Al-Qahtani (Al-Sharqiyah education department), and Ahmed Al-Shehri (Riyadh education department) received bronze medals.

Mohammad Al-Ghamdi from the Al-Sharqiyah education department was honored with a certificate of appreciation.

Secretary-General of Mawhiba Amal Al-Hazzaa extended her congratulations to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, for this remarkable national achievement.

She also congratulated the students, their families, schools, teachers, and education departments for their outstanding accomplishment and wished them continued success.

Al-Hazzaa described this triumph in such a prestigious competition as a moment of immense pride for the entire nation.

Furthermore, she underlined her gratitude to Minister of Education Youssef Al-Benyan for his unwavering support of Mawhiba and the exceptionally talented students in public education.

She commended the minister's dedication in providing necessary resources and opportunities, which have contributed to the fruitful partnership between the ministry and Mawhiba.

Furthermore, she highlighted Al-Benyan’s efforts to empower Saudi talents and propel them to greater heights of achievement through this collaboration.

Saudi Arabia's participation in the IMO 2024 is part of the Mawhiba International Olympiad program, which operates under a strategic partnership with the Ministry of Education. The program is one of 20 different initiatives offered annually by Mawhiba and the ministry, providing advanced curricula and enriching programs.

The initiatives offer a multi-phase journey for gifted students, exploring, boosting, and empowering their ambitions, in collaboration with local and international partners.

Students enrolled in the Mawhiba International Olympiad program undergo rigorous training, over 1,000 hours a year, in cooperation with the ministry. The training, focused on their chosen scientific track, is delivered under the guidance of local trainers and international Olympiad experts.

With this latest achievement, Saudi Arabia's tally of IMO awards has risen to 77, including 12 silver medals, 46 bronze medals, and 19 certificates of appreciation.