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Beijing to get more pandas for Olympic Games
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A giant panda breeding center in southwest China's Sichuan Province is loaning the Beijing Zoo up to 10 of the bears during the Olympic Games in August.

Eight to 10 of the animals, described as "strong, lovely and adaptable," are to be chosen by netizens from 16 candidates born in 2006 in the Wolong-based China Giant Panda Protection and Research Center, Li Desheng, the center's deputy director, told Xinhua on Thursday.

The pandas will be on display with seven of their peers at the zoo in Beijing through November.

The zoo has already begun to upgrade its facilities to accommodate the additional animals. It also planned to build a giant panda museum that would document efforts to save the endangered species.

"We would like to take the opportunity of the Olympic Games, when millions of tourists are expected to flow into the national capital, to promote the protection of the rare pandas and their living environment," Li said.

To ensure the animals' health and safety in their new home, Wolong was sending a large group of panda keepers, vets and technicians to help take care of them during their stay.

Li said the exercise was more than just an exhibition; it also emphasized the motivation to "exchange technologies on panda breeding".

"Experts at the Beijing Zoo were artificially breeding giant pandas in 1964, the earliest in China. So it's also a good opportunity to learn from our counterparts."

The pandas' departure date for the capital will be announced at a press conference next week when the voting closes.

Last year, 31 pandas were born at breeding centers around the nation in the first 11 months. A total of 25 survived, according to the State Forestry Administration. The Wolong center welcomed 20 pandas alone with 16 survivals.

The giant panda, known for being sexually inactive, is among the world's most endangered animals due to shrinking habitat.

In November, China had 239 giant pandas in captivity, including 128 at the Wolong center. About 1,590 other pandas were thought to be living in China's wilderness, mainly in Sichuan, Gansu and Shaanxi provinces.

(Xinhua News Agency March 14, 2008)

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