10 giant pandas to head for Expo 2010

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Ten giant pandas will head for Shanghai, host city of the 2010 World Expo, Tuesday on a chartered plane for a year-long display, said an expert with the China Wolong Giant Panda Protection and Research Center.

Workers with the center will transfer the pandas, six females and four males, into cages at 7:20 a.m. Tuesday, and drive them to the Shuangliu International Airport in Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province, said Li Guo, a senior researcher with the center.

Health checks showed that the pandas are in good health and ready for the coming flight, Li said.

 10 giant pandas to head for Expo 2010

Giant pandas play at Ya'an Bifeng Gorge Breeding Base in southwest China's Sichuan province, January 4, 2010. [Photo/Xinhua]

The pandas were all born in the Ya'an Bifeng Gorge Breeding Base of Sichuan after the deadly Wenchuan earthquake on May 12, 2008, and brought up in groups of three or four, Li said.

But in order to enhance the intimacy between them, workers have allowed them to live together about 20 days before their departure, he said. "They've had a happy time together."

The pandas will go on display in the Shanghai Zoo in the first half of 2010 and on display in the Shanghai Wildlife Zoo in the second half, he said.

The zoos have built new or renovated existing exhibition areas and established bamboo supply bases to ensure sufficient food for the pandas, said Cai Youming, deputy head of the Shanghai municipal forestry bureau.

Ruan Deci, who adopted "Olympics", one of the ten pandas, said she flew to Shanghai several days ago to check the panda's new home.

"I am confident that the pandas will start a wonderful life there," she said.

Giant pandas, known for being sexually inactive, are among the world's most endangered animals due to shrinking habitat.

There are about 1,600 giant pandas living in China's wild, mostly in Sichuan and the northwestern provinces of Shaanxi and Gansu.

China has built 62 giant panda nature reserves that cover 3.2 million hectares and are home to 70 percent of the animals in wild, according to the State Forestry Administration.

 10 giant pandas to head for Expo 2010

Two giant pandas play at Ya'an Bifeng Gorge Breeding Base in southwest China's Sichuan province, January 4, 2010. [Photo/Xinhua]

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