Officials at Taiwan's biggest zoo said Wednesday they hoped to welcome a pair of giant pandas from the Chinese mainland as early as November, a move expected to draw millions of tourists.
|A giant panda hall has been built in the Taipei Zoo.
Taipei's Mucha Zoo, which was chosen last month to house the endangered animals, has now applied for an import license to bring the pandas to the island as soon as possible.
"Considering the climate, November-December is the best season to move the two giant pandas here," zoo spokesman Chin Shih-chien said.
"If everything goes smoothly, they could be introduced to Taiwan in November at the earliest."
Chin said he expected the pandas to spark a frenzy among local residents and animal lovers, drawing as many as 6 million visitors to the zoo annually.
The move to bring the pandas to Taiwan is yet another sign of the island's increasing openness to the mainland since the election earlier this year of Ma Ying-jeou.
Beijing made the panda offer during a historic trip to the mainland in 2005 by Taiwan's then opposition leader, former Kuomintang chairman Lien Chan.
|Giant pandas Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan
The pandas are named Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan, which comes from the Chinese word "tuanyuan", or "reunion" in English.
Taipei's city government says it has invested about 250 million Taiwan dollars (US$8 million) to build a panda house.