What preparations are needed in advance of a panda flight? What kind of onboard catering will the pandas enjoy? When are the pandas due to land in Berlin? Jörg Bodenröder, Lufthansa Cargo’s Head of Animal Transport and animal welfare officer, and Dr Andreas Ochs, the zoo’s chief veterinarian, answered today the burning questions surrounding the panda transport. The question on everyone’s lips was: when are the pandas due to land in Berlin? The MD-11F from Chengdu is expected to land at Berlin Schönefeld Airport at around 2 p.m. on 24 June.
“We feel that being asked to assist with this transport recognises our wealth of expertise in transporting animals properly. We are pleased to contribute our extensive experience to this cooperation and provide a first-class service”, said Jörg Bodenröder. As an addition to Lufthansa’s First Class offering, all animal passengers travelling with Lufthansa Cargo also enjoy a perfect full service. This begins with appropriate housing at the Frankfurt Airport gateway, and continues with transportation in special containers developed together with breeders and vets on to intensive supervision by trained staff in the air and on the ground. With the “Frankfurt Animal Lounge”, Lufthansa Cargo also provides one of the most state-of-the-art animal care facilities at an airport anywhere in the world – a kind of “First Class Lounge” for animal passengers.
However, the Berlin pandas won’t get to experience the hospitality at the Frankfurt Animal Lounge, as the scheduled flight from Beijing to Frankfurt has been specially rerouted via Chengdu and Berlin for the two VIP passengers. “With 42 large animal stalls, 39 dog kennels, special climate-controlled chambers and black light areas for examining ornamental fish, we have the right solution for every animal”, explained Jörg Bodenröder, who has been with Lufthansa Cargo since 2001 already. “Fish are the main animals we carry. Zoo animals present a particular challenge, often due to their size alone, but we are well up to the task”, continued Bodenröder.
The two pandas will be accompanied by two animal caretakers from Chengdu and the zoo’s chief veterinarian Dr Andreas Ochs. He also provided details on the transport: “Meng Meng and Jiao Qing will enjoy ample bamboo snacks while en route. Of course, they will also have access to a drinking bowl in their transport container. We will be able to visit the animals at any time during the flight and make sure they are getting on fine.” Precautions have also been taken in case they need to “do their business” while on the move. The transport container will be equipped with absorbent mats so that Mr and Mrs Panda can remain dry no matter what and will not be bothered by odours during the rest of the trip. The calculated flight time from Chengdu to Berlin via Novosibirsk is around 12 hours and 20 minutes.