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Xi to join Merkel for panda debut

China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-05 07:27

Xi to join Merkel for panda debut

The two pandas, Meng Meng and Jiao Qingin, received a warm welcome on their arrival in Berlin, Germany, last week. Provided To China Daily

President to take part in ceremony as arrivals are unveiled to public

BERLIN - Two giant pandas that arrived in the German capital from China last week will meet the public on Wednesday as part of an official ceremony to open the refurbished Panda Garden in Berlin Zoo.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will inaugurate the attraction.

"I hope this pair of giant pandas ... will serve as envoys of China-Germany friendship," Xi said in an article published on Tuesday in German media before he travels to the country for a state visit and the G20 Summit in Hamburg.

"We need to ... deepen cooperation in education, culture, science and technology, tourism, health, think tanks, media, football and other fields, implement visa-related and other facilitation measures and bring our two peoples closer to each other."

The zoo's new residents, Meng Meng and Jiao Qingin, are quickly settling into their new home, according to Yin Hong, a Chinese panda keeper who accompanied the pair from a research base in Chengdu, Sichuan province.

Meng Meng, which means "sweet dream", is a 4-year-old female, while Jiao Qing, or "darling", is a 7-year-old male.

"With just one night's rest after their arrival, their appetite has returned since the second day and they have been very responsive to the instructions given to them," said Yin.

Doctor Andreas Ochs, senior veterinarian at the zoo, added that Meng Meng and Jiao Qing are "very healthy".

"Obviously, they feel very good here. They are still under quarantine ... you just have the feeling that they are not strangers. They use the inside furniture as if they have been here forever," he said.

To make sure that Meng Meng and Jiao Qing have enough food, the Chinese keepers traveled with 1 metric ton of bamboo.

But, according to Yin, eating bamboo alone is not nutritiously adequate, and each day the pandas will be given mooncake-like snacks.

"Our German partners have already learned how to make the cakes for the pandas so that we do not have to worry when we are back home," Yin said.

The Panda Garden has been built on the site of the previous one but has been expanded to cover about 5,500 square meters.

Meng Meng and Jiao Qing have already gained star status, with zoo guests stopping for pictures outside the garden.

Ochs said the zoo attracts about 3.5 million visitors every year, and with Meng Meng and Jiao Qing, the number would definitely grow.

"We are very proud to be able to house the animals, who are a symbol for the friendship between Germany and China," he said.

The pair, who are in Berlin on a 15-year conservation and breeding program, are not the first pandas to be given or loaned to Germany by China. The last panda Berlin had was Bao Bao, which was sent to Berlin in 1980 as a state gift from China. He died in 2012.


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