Volga-Dnepr freighter flies pandas to new home in Finland

Pandas have settled into their new home at Ahtari Zoo in Finland after being flown from China to Helsinki Vantaa Airport on a Volga-Dnepr Airlines IL-76TD freighter.

The delivery of Lumi and Pyry was performed under a joint programme of the People’s Republic of China and Finland aimed at the preservation and study of giant pandas.

Their arrival in Finland followed the signing of an agreement in 2017 by the Preservation and Research Center for Giant Pandas in Dujiangyan, which agreed to transfer the two pandas to Ahtari Zoo for a set time period.

Volga-Dnepr Airlines general director, Mikhail Smirnykh said: “This flight in support of such an important wildlife preservation programme was special for our company so we are delighted to hear that Lumi and Pyry have acclimatised so quickly to their new surroundings.”

During the flight, the pandas were accompanied by one of their keepers and a vet from the Finnish zoo, who ensured their safety and well-being throughout the journey.

To monitor the conditions onboard the aircraft, special measuring equipment was acquired for the flight. One hour before landing, the crew gradually lowered the temperature in the cargo hold to 10 degrees Celsius to help the pandas acclimatise gradually for their arrival in snow-covered Helsinki.

Onboard the aircraft, they enjoyed their usual food rations, including chopped bamboo shoots, carrots and apples.

Lumi and Pyry are expected to live at Ahtari Zoo for between 10 to 15 years and will return to their homeland after that. Their cubs, if any, will also go to China with their parents, which is provided under the agreement.