China’s giant pandas adapt well to life at Taipei Zoo

December 24th, 2008 - 8:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Taipei, Dec 24 (DPA) Two giant pandas given by China to Taiwan are adapting well to life at the Taipei Zoo, and will make their debut after one month’s quarantine, the Taipei Zoo said Wednesday.Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan were a little bit upset after arriving at the Taipei Zoo Tuesday afternoon. They paced nervously in the Panda House, sniffing every corner and everything to get familiar with the new environment, zoo spokesman Chin Shih-chien said.

But they slept soundly Tuesday night.

“We turned out the light for them at 9.14 p.m. They ate from 11 p.m. Tuesday until 3 a.m. Wednesday. After sleeping for five hours, they woke up at 8 a.m. to eat again,” he said.

Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan, whose names mean “reunion” in Chinese, live on a mixed diet of Chinese and Taiwanese bamboo, but later will switch to Taiwan bamboo, fruits, wowotou, a steam bun made from bamboo powder, soybean, corn, calcium, sugar, salt and egg and high-fibre biscuits, he said.

The Taipei Zoo held a welcome ceremony for the two pandas Wednesday. Chao Xuemin, head of China’s send-off delegation, presented the map of the pandas’ genome to the Taipei Zoo, and Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-pin promised to the Chinese people that Taipei will give best care to Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan.

Pandas are endangered species with 1,590 of them living in the wild - mostly in China’s southwest - and more than 180 giant pandas living in captivity around the world.

Since the 1950s, China has given dozens of pandas to foreign countries to cement ties, giving rise to the term “panda diplomacy”.

Chinese President Hu Jintao offered two pandas to Taiwan in 2005 as a symbol of friendship, but the offer was turned down by the government of former president Chen Shui-bian.

President Ma Ying-jeou accepted the latest offer, choosing to ignore the pandas’ highly political names, but the opposition Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers are demanding new names for the two pandas because critics interpret their names as hinting at unification between China and Taiwan.

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