Panda couple ambassadors of “good”will

panda-3-beautifulfreepicturesA pair of giant pandas made their last public appearance in China on Monday  December 22, 2008 and will  be loaded aboard a plane taking them to their new home in Taiwan. This gift and others  marks the start of a new relationship  between the island and its arch rival Taiwan.

The active and healthy pair of ambassador pandas from a panda base in Sichuan, southwest China were met by a Taiwanese delegation on Monday to bring them to the self-ruled island.
The pandas’ new keeper Yu Hsueh-ying from the Taipei Zoo, who was among a team of 20 animal experts to take care of the pandas, came to Sichuan 10 days ago in preparation for their relocation.
The two four-year-olds, earthquake survivors, named “Tuan Tuan” and “Yuan Yuan”, are at a base nestled in the scenic Bifeng Gorge in Ya’an, They were evacuated from the famed Wolong reserve due to damage in the May 12 earthquake. When their names are joined as one “Tuanyuan” this combination of the characters means “reunion” in Chinese.

The relocation of the pair comes amid hopes on both sides that the goodwill gesture will be matched by an increased willingness to work towards warmer cross-strait relations.

Taiwan and China split in 1949 at the end of a civil war, but Beijing still considers the island to be part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

A group of local children came to  say goodbye to the pandas and some of these children were to perform at a farewell gathering due to take place on Tuesday in Ya’an.

The pandas will then travel to the provincial capital Chengdu where authorities will see them off in a ceremony before they board a chartered jet from Taiwan’s Eva Airways, heading straight for their new home in Taipei.

The city will hold a welcoming ceremony for the panda couple on Wednesday, but the two main characters will not be there, as they will begin a 30-day quarantine immediately upon arrival.They are both expected to be unveiled to the Taiwanese public during the Lunar New Year holidays starting January 25, 2009, if they complete the quarantine with a clean bill of health.

Beijing’s pandas usually come with enormous rental fees, but in this case the Chinese have said there will be no charges for Taiwan.The Taipei city government, which has invested around 10 million US dollars in an enclosure at Taipei zoo, expects them to attract six million visitors a year.

Taiwan-bound panda couple to bid farewell to China.- Staff Writers

Ya’An, China (AFP) Dec 22, 2008
http://Taiwan News at reported in Terra

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