Taiwan is preparing to receive a pair of pandas donated by the Chinese mainland.
State Council Taiwan Affairs Office spokeswoman Fan Liqing said on Wednesday, the pandas would arrive on the island next month.
Relevant departments on both sides were busy working on issues including transportation, equipment and personnel training.
The zoo said it was ready to receive the pandas, which were likely to meet the public sometime around the Spring Festival. First though, they have a one-month quarantine. The Spring Festival falls on Jan. 26, 2009.
The mainland announced it would donate pandas to Taiwan to demonstrate its goodwill in May 2005, but the animal's departure has been delayed for more than three years because of political reasons.
Earlier this month, Chen Yunlin, president of the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) announced, during a Taiwan visit, that the panda pair, Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan would soon arrive on the island and be housed at the Taipei Mucha Zoo. Their names, meaning "reunion," were chosen by the mainland public through mobile phone text messages.
The 4-year-old pandas, one of China's most endangered animal species, are at a panda breeding base in Ya'an, southwestern Sichuan Province.
They were transferred to the base on June 18 from the Wolong Nature Reserve, also in Sichuan, which was seriously damaged in the May 12 earthquake.
"The giant panda is a treasure of the Chinese nation and it is a symbol of peace and auspiciousness," Chen had said. "It is the sincere wish of the mainland compatriots that the giant panda could live and breed on the island."
On behalf of mainland compatriots, Chen accepted two rare animals from Taiwan during the visit. One is an indigenous goat with the scientific name of naemorhedus swinhoei, the other is a spotted deer.
The spokeswoman said the mainland and Taiwan were in contact for further details about the donation of these two animals.
(Xinhua News Agency November 12, 2008)