A pair of young giant pandas will soon call Adelaide Zoo in
South Australia home.
The couple will be the first pandas to settle down in the
southern hemisphere - the last time the endangered species were
seen was nearly two decades ago during a visit to the Australasian
President Hu Jintao and Australian Prime Minister John Howard
signed an agreement yesterday formalizing the 10-year loan in
Hu said the move is a friendly gesture and the pandas will
become a symbol of friendship.
Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said after the
signing ceremony that he played a key role in working with the
Chinese to borrow the pandas as part of a global survival
Australian Foreign Minister
Alexander Downer holds a picture of a panda as he was interviewed
in Sydney yesterday.
"I love animals and I think the giant panda is one of the truly
great animals of the world," said Downer.
A native of Adelaide, Downer was excited that China agreed to
send the pandas to the zoo where his grandfather was once the
It is hoped that the two-year-old male "Wang Wang", or "Net" and
one-year-old "Funi", or "Lucky Girl", will breed when they reach
The two pandas are from the Wolong Nature Reserve in Sichuan
Province and they were named by the public earlier this year, said
Zhang Guiquan, a director at the reserve.
Chris West, CEO of the Royal Zoological Society of South
Australia, said that the pair's presence in Australia will signify
international collaboration to secure a future for wildlife.
"We will send our staff to Wolong to receive training," West
said. "Our staff will also visit the giant panda facilities at San
Diego Zoo, where they have successfully bred and managed giant
pandas, and the climate is similar to that in South Australia."
The giant panda is unique to China and often serves as an
unofficial national mascot. The animals were sent abroad as a sign
of warm diplomatic relations or to mark breakthroughs in ties.
In a related development, two giant pandas "Bing Xing", 7, and
"Hua Zui Ba", 4, are scheduled to leave China today for a 10-year
sojourn in Spain.
Giant pandas are among the world's most endangered species.
State Forestry Administration figures show 1,590 pandas live in the
wild, mostly in the mountains of Sichuan, and more than 200 live in
captivity in the country.
(China Daily September 7, 2007)