KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will spend over RM151 million by 2024 for the giant panda conservation at the National Zoo. Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said more than RM30.2 million has been spent since 2014 for their upkeep. "The total expenditure for the Malaysia-China Giant Panda International Conservation Agreement at the National Zoo for 2014-2016 is RM30,214,186. "This amount is a combination of allocation of RM25,449,044 and RM4,765,142 from the government and the zoo respectively," he said in a written reply to Datuk Liang Teck Meng (BN-Simpang Renggam). Wan Junaidi said the agreement was signed between Malaysia and China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA) for a period of 10 years and will end on May 24, 2024. "The decision to extend (the stay) or to return the panda pair to China will be decided by the Cabinet later," he said. Liang had asked the ministry to state the total expenditure for the giant panda conservation and the government's plan after the end of the agreement term. Wan Junaidi had previously said it costs an average of RM60,000 a month to maintain the pandas. The government had come under heavy criticism for the high maintenance cost for the conservation of the pandas. It was reported that environmentalists have said the money would have been better spent on conservation efforts for threatened Malaysian wildlife. The giant pandas, female Feng Yi and male Fu Wa, arrived in Malaysia on May 21, 2014 and are being housed in a 1.6ha air-conditioned complex at the zoo. Their names were changed to Liang Liang and Xing Xing respectively. China has agreed to loan the pandas to Malaysia to mark 40 years of diplomatic ties between the two nations. In September last year, the government had to pay US$600,000 (RM2.6 billion) for the giant panda cub Nuan Nuan, which was born here on Aug 18, 2015 as stated in the agreement. Malaysia is the eighth country among 18 countries that breeds pandas.