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Visitors to mainland pandas top 1 mln at Taipei zoo
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The Taipei zoo said visitors to a pair of giant pandas, sent as gifts from the Chinese mainland, on Friday topped 1 million.

Four-year-old Chou Jie-ting, from Taipei County, became the 1 millionth visitor when she arrived at the Panda House at about 11 AM.

She was rewarded with a greeting card bearing the paw prints of the two pandas, a movie ticket to "Touch of the Panda" among other gifts.

The pandas, named "Tuan Tuan" and "Yuan Yuan" (when linked, their names mean "reunion" in Chinese) arrived at the zoo on December 23 last year. They made their public debut on Jan. 26 after a month of quarantine.

The pandas have been popular since then and visitors exceeded half a million on Feb. 28.

The mainland announced in May 2005 that it would give two giant pandas to Taiwan as a gesture of goodwill. Their departure was delayed for more than three years for political reasons. Improved cross-Straits ties made their journey to Taiwan possible.

Giant pandas are among the world's most endangered animals. There are about 1,590 pandas living in China's wild, mostly in Sichuan and the northwestern provinces of Shaanxi and Gansu. Through 2007, there were 239 captive-bred giant pandas in the country.

(Xinhua News Agency April 17, 2009)

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