Fri, January 09, 2009
China > HK/Taiwan > Mainland pandas reach Taiwan

Mainland-donated panda pair to meet Taiwan public on Lunar New Year's Day

2009-01-08 14:48:45 GMT2009-01-08 22:48:45 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

A pair of giant pandas walk in the Taipei Zoo in Taipei, southeast China's Taiwan Province Dec. 23, 2008. The 4-year-old giant pandas, Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan offered by the Chinese mainland arrived in Taiwan by air on Dec. 23, 2008. (Xinhua photo)

TAIPEI, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- The mainland-donated panda pair is scheduled to meet the Taiwan public on Jan. 26, the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year, the Taipei city government announced on Thursday.

Taipei mayor Hau Lung-bin will visit the panda pair a few days earlier, on Jan. 24, with 500 orphans and children from poor families.

"If all the quarantine measures for the panda pair and other procedures for their moving into the zoo go well as scheduled, the 500 children invited by the city government will be the first visitors on Jan. 24," Hau said.

The Taipei city zoo said an opening ceremony for the panda enclosure would also be held on Jan. 24. The area would be open to the public on the morning of Jan. 26.

It's estimated an average of 22,000 panda visitors per day will come to the enclosure once it's opened, according to the zoo. To accommodate the crowds, the zoo will extend business hours until 18:00 p.m. during the Spring Festival holidays.

The city government said earlier in a statement that the pandas were expected to attract about 6 million visitors to the zoo annually, double the current number.

The pair of 4-year-old giant pandas named "Tuan Tuan" and "Yuan Yuan" (when linked, their names mean "reunion" in Chinese), have now become "sweethearts" on the island. Cartoon images of the bears are displayed at bus stations and the airport's entrance.

The mainland announced in May 2005 it would donate two giant pandas to Taiwan. Their departure had been delayed for more than three years. Improved cross-Straits ties made their journey to Taiwan possible.

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