TAIPEI, Nov. 6 (Xinhua) -- The mainland chief negotiator on Taiwan affairs said here Thursday morning that the giant panda pair that the mainland promised to donate to Taiwan three years ago will soon arrive on the island.
"After completing relevant procedures, the panda pair, Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan, will arrive in Taiwan and be housed at the Taipei Mucha Zoo," said Chen, president of the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS).
The mainland announced in May 2005 it would donate two giant pandas to Taiwan to demonstrate goodwill. But their departure has been delayed for more than three years.
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 mainland also offered Taiwan 17 Nyssaceae seedlings, a rare flowering plant that grows in the mainland only.
Chen said the plants were gifts from the Qiang minority group in Wenchuan, a county in Sichuan Province devastated by the May 12earthquake.
"The gifts showed the gratitude of mainland compatriots, including those in the quake-affected areas, to the Taiwan compatriots for their generous donations and help (for quake relief)," he said.
Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) chairman Chiang Pin-kung said Taiwan would take good care of the pandas and plants to ensure they grow healthily.
On behalf of mainland compatriots, Chen also accepted two rare animals from Taiwan. One is an indigenous goat with the scientific name of naemorhedus swinhoei, the other is a spotted deer.