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Pandas ready for new home
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The pair of giant pandas offered by the Chinese mainland to Taiwan are in good health and ready to depart for the island at any time.

Two staff, a feeder and a veterinarian, from the Wolong Nature Reserve in southwest China's Sichuan Province will accompany Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan, whose names said together mean "unite," to Taiwan, deputy director of the China Giant Panda Protection and Research Center Li Desheng said yesterday.

The Taipei city zoo, which will house the two pandas, said last month that it expected the pair to arrive mid-December so they'd be ready for public display around the Lunar New Year, after a one-month quarantine. The holiday falls on January 26.

Li said the two staff selected to accompany Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan had worked at the reserve for many years and were "very experienced."

Li added: "They will cooperate with colleagues in Taipei to help the pandas adapt to their new life."

The two staff will bring a week's worth of the pandas' favorite food, such as steamed corn buns and fresh bamboo, Li said. Other necessities include medicines such as motion-sickness pills.

The mainland announced in May 2005 it would donate two pandas to Taiwan. But their departure has been delayed for more than three years.

The 4-year-old pandas, one of China's most endangered species, were transferred to a breeding base in Ya'an in Sichuan after the Wolong Nature Reserve was damaged in the 8.0-magnitude earthquake on May 12.

Li said after being shocked by the earthquake, Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan were emotionally unstable and lost weight. But they soon recovered.

"A recent physical check-up showed they are very strong and healthy and are ready for travel anytime," Li said.

(Xinhua News Agency December 13, 2008)

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