Olympic pandas return home after Beijing mission

March 23rd, 2009 - 3:15 pm ICT by ANI  

New Delhi, Mar 23 (ANI): A large number of well-wishers turned up at the Beijing Zoo to say good-bye to eight panda cubs who wrapped up their Olympic mission and returned home.

The pandas had been sent to Beijing Zoo from Sichuan province, southwest China, to bring extra cheer to visitors during the Beijing 2008 Olympics. The adorable cubs remained playful and naughty despite it being their last day in the capital.

I really dont want them to leave. They have brought me so many good memories, like the Olympics. I really wish they could stay in Beijing for good, the China Daily quoted Liu Ping, as saying.

The Olympic pandas were flown to Beijing on May 24 last year, earlier than expected, after their home, the China Giant Panda Protection and Research Centre in Wolong, was severely damaged in the May 12 earthquake.

I am not disappointed at all about the pandas departure. Actually, I am really glad to see them returning to Sichuan, where their home is, said Quan Hao, 33, from Beijing.

He also hoped the cubs could leave behind the trauma caused by the quake and start a new chapter of their lives when they go back to Sichuan, like their brave human friends have.

More than 2.1 million tourists watched the cubs nine-month stay in the capital. The Beijing Zoo made its best effort to accommodate the VIPs.

A 4.5-million-yuan glass-walled compound with features simulating their natural habitat helped the traumatized pandas recover from the earthquake.

The eight Olympic pandas were taken off display on Sunday and loaded on to a truck surrounded by heavy security. The cubs were kept in individual cages with their favourite food - bamboo. (ANI)

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