PARIS - Two giant pandas from China's southwest Sichuan Province arrived Sunday at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport to start their new life in France.
The two giant pandas, Huan Huan and Yuan Zi, both 3 years old, will be directly delivered to the Beauval Zoo near the city of Tours in central France, where they will settled down in an living area of 2.5 hectares as their new home in France.
"The arrival of Huan Huan and Yuan Zi is a historic event for the Beauval Zoo. It reflects our excellent cooperation with China and our long-standing involvement in the protection of endangered species," said Frances Delord, Founder and President of the Beauval Zoo.
The two pandas' arrival marks the return of the Chinese endangered species to France. Since 1973, two pandas had been sent to France, one died shortly after arriving, another one named Yen Yen died in 2000 of old age.
"We've been waiting for this moment for five years," the zoo president said, "since the day the zoo decided to embark on this epic to bring giant pandas in France."
Rodolphe Delord, Director of the Beauval Zoo, said the arrival of the two giant pandas has allowed the zoo to strengthen its role in protecting one of the most endangered species in the world. "This marks the beginning of a long-term partnership in support of research programs and conservation between Beauval and (China's) Chengdu panda base."
Chinese Ambassador to France Kong Quan and the French officials in charge of the panda project came to the Paris' airport to welcome the two pandas that had travelled on a Panda Express, a Boeing 777 non-stop flight connecting China and France in minimum flying time.
As an endangered species, to date some 1,600 pandas live mainly in three provinces of China.