Photo taken on December 11, 2008 shows Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan, the pair of giant pandas offered by the Chinese mainland to Taiwan, are happily fed.
The Taiwan-based EVA Air, entrusted by the island's authority to ship two giant pandas from the mainland, announced Tuesday that its panda charter plane will leave on Dec. 22 and come back next day.
The plane will leave for Chengdu, of southwestern Sichuan Province, from Taiwan's Taoyuan Airport on Dec. 22 and fly back with the two pandas on Dec. 23, said G.W. Nieh, vice general manager of the EVA Air, at a press conference in Taipei.
"We are very happy to ship Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan (the panda pair's names) and will try our best to give them a comfortable journey to Taiwan," he said.
The airline company has arranged a Boeing 747-400 plane for the pair. They will stay in a 180-square-meter chamber equipped with air conditioners to provide a comfortable temperature and humidity, he said.
Feeders and veterinarians can visit them during the journey so that they would not be frightened.
Besides the two pandas and staff to accompany them from both the mainland and Taiwan, 100 passengers will also be on board, he said.
Deputy Director of the China Giant Panda Protection and Research Center Li Desheng had told Xinhua last Friday that the pair are in good health and ready to depart for the island at any time.
Two staff, a feeder and a veterinarian from the center, will accompany the pandas to Taiwan, he said.
Five staff from the Taipei zoo, which will house the two pandas, have been at the breeding center since October.
Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan
(Xinhua News Agency December 17, 2008)