China Southern Airlines (CSA) will transport eight giant pandas from quake-hit Sichuan Province to the national capital Beijing so that the animals can have a better breeding and recovery environment.
The eight pandas live in the China Giant Panda Protection and Research Center based in Wolong, which is only 30 kilometers from the epicenter of last week's massive earthquake.
"The pandas are scheduled to leave Chengdu of Sichuan at 3:00 p.m. Saturday and arrive at Beijing Zoo the same day," said Liu Shaoyong, general manager of CSA. They will travel on a Boeing 747-700 cargo plane, along with bamboo (their usual food) and water.
Liu did not say when the pandas would return to Wolong.
The May 12 earthquake killed five staff at the Wolong-based China Giant Panda Protection and Research Center. Two pandas were injured and six went missing, of which four have been found. The center had 53 pandas.
There are about 1,590 pandas living in the wild in China, mostly in Sichuan and the northwestern provinces of Shaanxi and Gansu. Another 180 have been bred in captivity.